Thursday, February 11, 2016

High Hopes

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Francis of Assisi
I am probably dating myself a bit but I wonder how many of you remember Frank Sinatra? One of Frank's Academy Award songs (1959) was "High Hopes" the verse:

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant?
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant.
But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

The power of positive thinking, it is essential to trading/investing successfully. Thousands if not millions of people have attempted to master the markets, unfortunately few achieve enduring success. If you don't push yourself you will never make it. It's one thing to be optimistic, but are you really setting yourself up for failure? Optimism must be tempered with realism. You should be optimistic when entering a trade and hope for the best but do not expect a miracle. 

While being optimistic about the markets or an individual trade is essential, you must, be careful not to turn that optimism into a false hope, or create overly high expectations for yourself. Trading/investing requires creativity, and interaction with the markets. The markets don't always provide opportunities. There must be a match between current market conditions and a given trader's talents, style, goals, and plan. When they don't match it's next to impossible to trade profitably. A trader must continually monitor current market conditions and decide if he or she can trade under such conditions. If the market conditions are not optimal; stand aside and wait. When market conditions are ideal; a trader must push himself to take advantage of current conditions. Optimism will not change current market conditions.

Another important consideration: If you are overly optimistic, you may not recognize your limitations. You cannot expect to trade in every possible market condition and make the same amount of profits. Unless you temper your optimism with a bit of realism and wait for your ideal market conditions to exist, you will likely fail to reach your expectations and become disappointed. When you are under the influence of disappointment and frustration you will make the most trading errors. 

Begin to think in terms of "should" instead of "must" and do not define your goals too narrowly. I should make $50,000 a year and not I must make $1,000 a week. They are not the same goal. If my goal is to make $50,000 per year I have an entire 12 months to achieve that goal. If the goal is $1,000 per week I am setting myself up for disappointment and frustration, the very first week I fall behind. If you just broke even that week then the next you must make $2,000 to be back on track, if you break even again then the following week its $3,000 and so on, not to mention a losing week, creating a seemingly impossible task. You will become frustrated, disappointed, dejected and your own worst enemy. 

One of the greatest obstacles that traders face is their own unrealistic expectations. It's better to live by the old cliche', "Accept what the markets give you." You don't control the markets. You have to accept what you can get, and feel good that you got anything. If you adjust your expectations to market conditions, you'll feel better, and if you feel better you'll trade better.

So any time you're gettin' low
'stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant.
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant
When troubles call, and your back's to the wall
There's a lot to be learned, that wall could fall.

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