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Forget what you know


One of the issues many new traders struggle with when starting out on their journey is the apparent lack of control they are faced with when starting to trade. This is an acute problem for many who have been highly successful in their previous careers where their particular personalities and skills sets have always served them well in achieving their goals and afforded them a great deal of control in the process. Take a sales executive who has always been able to use his or her skills in persuasion and negotiation who is empathic and people focussed with an engaging personality. What are they to make of a trading environment where none of these character traits and skills has any bearing at all of whether they will be successful. Similarly take a succesful engineer who knows that a always leads to b, this mathematical function always results in this solution and that the laws of physics and mechanics are immutable. How is he or she going to deal with the seemingly randomness of price action where nothing is certain. This lack of being able to bring to bear on a new trading career the very things that have made them succesful in the past can be an extremely disorienting. Even knowing at the outset that new thinking is required still causes acute stress as many of these former attitudes, traits and skills are so ingrained in the sub conscious (and in our self worth and social standing) as to be nearly impossible to overcome. So whats the answer.

At this point its traditional that the writer comes up with a flippant "Simple - do this" type of statement. However, in my experience it is anything but. Changing long entrenched attitudes and belief systems is a hard slog. However, it can be done.

While I am no psychologist or habit change guru, my wife will attest to this fact :), I have had to go through this process myself so what I can pass on is how I have dealt with this issue.

1 Realize that whatever made you a success in the past has no part in your future success. Accept this at the outset and keep it in mind at all times. Start off as a complete rookie and start to think "if I am a rookie what do I need to learn / know?". Might seem obvious but practising this youthful inquiring mindset at all times will help you stay alert to not falling back on old traits and habits that could be damaging. While there are some inherent character features that will help such as being naturally patient and, in my opinion, being a visual thinker (useful in pattern recognition), adopting an open mind at the outset is undoubtedly beneficial.

2 Dump the Ego. If you are used to being right and listened to you have to accept that your voice will not be heard in the markets and being right is irrelevent. In fact having to be right will almost certainly result in you being wrong more times than not.

3 Become a probabilistic thinker. Start to think in terms of probability rather than certainty. Absolutes are for amateurs, probabilities are for professionals. For example if you have a strategy that gives you an edge 60% of the time (i.e. profit) then that is the reason you enter a trade not on the specifics of the particular trade. Its scary to enter a trade when you have to eveluate it every single time but much less so when you know that 60% of the time it comes good. Probability is on your side not certainty.

4 Adopt a routine. The one thing you have control over in trading is you. The best way I have found ro maintain that control is via routine. Find one and stick to it. For example when I get to my charts in the morning (at the same time each day), I look at whats happened in Asia and at what data is upcoming. I then mark up my reaction points and I either set limits at these points or decide to trade at market. I know and trust my stragtegy, my risk (stops) and my exits (targets) and do this every day. I then trade accordingly. Do not veer from the course. Stick to the path to aviod getting hit by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune :). Routine is critical and I cant stress it enough.

There are many other things you can bring to bear on changing your attitude to one that suits being a successful trader and there are numerous books on pyschology you can read on the subject. For me the above steps are a good kick off point and critical in regaining the control you need.


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