Thursday, June 25, 2015

Employ A Healthy Skepticism

On the road from the City of Skepticism,
I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity.

Adam Smith

Are you a novice trader who is deeply frustrated and ready to give up? You have read many of the trading books, followed all the trading "gurus," and worked tirelessly. Yet, despite all your efforts, your account is lagging badly. Save heart, your experience is common. When you start out, new traders are extremely excited. They dream of success and the recognition that huge profits will bring. Some indeed achieve early success, but many soon discover that achieving success consistently can be elusive. Many people are drawn to trading, but few can trade profitability. The winning trader is a special breed, a person who is highly motivated, but at the same time is realistic and able to persist in the face of adversity.

It is easy to get yourself "psyched up" when you first start out: You merely convince yourself, "All I have to do is apply myself and I will achieve high profitability." This is a good positive attitude, but the "power of positive thinking" doesn't usually go very far in terms of achieving trading success. It makes you feel good, but then you find that hard work and persistence does not necessarily pay off. You need sound trading strategies, you need to expose yourself to a variety of market conditions, and must hone your trading skills. Successful trading requires talent, and there's no way to develop one's talents without extensive practice. Just think of your favorite sports hero, how often and for how long have they trained and practiced to develop their talent?

While a positive attitude is very good, a healthy skepticism is paramount. When it comes to trading, you can't believe anything you read or hear. The only time you actually know that you have stumbled upon a profitable trading strategy is when it, indeed, produces a profit. Just convincing yourself you can master the markets with sheer determination and willpower will not get you very far. You must accept the fact that, in the end, trading is like a game, a game of probabilities. Obviously you must take it seriously on one hand, but you must also learn to enjoy the process. Experienced traders take the game seriously, they acknowledge that real money is on the line and it is likely that real losses can wipe out one's account. They address this issue utilizing money and risk management (money management on your total account and risk management on individual trades). No trading strategy is foolproof. 

Realize that despite all your efforts, it is quite possible that some unforeseen adverse event can go against your trade, or that current market conditions may just not be conducive to
your trading plan. That's where a happy-go-lucky attitude comes in. I believe it's important to view trading like a sport. If you score the winning point, fine. But if you miss it, do not get too bogged down. Just pick yourself up and try again. Eventually, with enough practice and experience, you will move into the realm of the seasoned professional. It is not going to happen over night. It will take time and practice. And that's where the motivation comes in. It is easy to stay motivated for a short time, if you think the payoff will be large and relatively immediate. Trading is a profession where you can go through long periods with little progress. Over the years, a great deal of money will be spent on commissions, losses, apparatus, and instructional materials. The would-be professional trader isn't fazed by it all. He or she views the money spent on trading as similar to what any professional spends on college tuition. He or she believes that eventually, his or her time and effort will pay off. The winning trader is highly motivated. He or she admits that trading is a challenge and that success is far from assured. Despite this harsh reality, the winning trader persists until he or she achieves consistent profitability.

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