Big Mike's Trading Blog

Day trading futures, discussing money management and trade management techniques, and more

Your Trading Destiny

I was just reading a sample on my Kindle of Carl Futia's book The Art of Contrarian Trading, and in the preface or Chapter 1 (I can't remember which) he is trying to prepare the majority of traders that they will lose, and tell them that if they don't have an edge then they should not trade.

Anyway, in it he says that unlike the professional world, in trading a high IQ, substantial net worth, a greater education and lots of hard work will not make you a profitable trader.

I firmly believe the statement and have been saying similar things for a while myself. But, I think of critical importance is something he left out. That there is hope. The thing is, it is absolutely true that a high IQ, substantial net worth and greater education are not enough to give you an edge in trading. But what is also true is that you and only you are in complete and utter control of exactly what will give you an edge. Yourself.

It's been said many times. Trading is simple, not easy. In fact, trading is the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life. It's also the most rewarding.

Trading makes you be at your absolute best. Anything less, and you won't be successful. You've got to have your life in order, you've got to have your beliefs in order, and you've got to have confidence in yourself. All self-doubt and outside influence is left at the door. As it should be. Trading is about facing your inner most demons, and winning, quite possibly dramatically changing your own tendencies and behaviors in your life.

So it's easy to say that trading can and will in fact change your life. If you succeed. And you control your success. Not your boss, not your family, not the market. You.

It's easy to find excuses on why you had a bad day or bad week. None of them matter. The market doesn't give a shit about your excuses folks! The market is only about the now. It is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. The market is never wrong.

I know many of you are part-time traders and are hoping to one day be full-time traders. You might want to check out this other thread, btw, where I was hoping to discuss that in more detail. It's fine to be part-time. In fact, in many cases, it's more than fine. It's prudent. But what I've seen over and over, and what you must be careful of, is approaching trading as a hobby. For me, treating trading like a hobby is basically treating it like a trip to Vegas. You win some, you lose some, all that matters was you had fun, right? Yes. In Vegas that is what matters. In trading, your a fool if that is what matters.

So even if you are trading on the side, you still must treat it with all the respect it demands and in fact it deserves. Even if you are filthy rich and don't care so much about losing money trading, please just stop and give that money to homeless people who need it far more than you apparently do. Don't carelessly trade as a hobby, for the fun of it. Don't do it.

Now on the other side of the fence, there are a lot of you that are trading and trying with every fiber of your being to do it the best you can. And you are still losing your ass. Some of you have blown up once or twice already. Some of you are lost. Some of you are begging for it to turn around. Some of you don't know what to do next. It is to these people that I would like to say "get a grip!". You are in complete control of what happens next. You are in complete control of your trading performance. You do not depend on the market, you in fact depend on yourself. Once you've come to that realization, then everything else will start to make sense. Some of you madly trying new methods over and over and over, hoping something will work, hoping something will change, hoping something will improve. In doing so, you are completely overlooking what is most important: yourself.

If you are struggling, you've got to look within to find out why. I'm not talking about going to see a shrink and talk about your mommy, although it probably wouldn't hurt. You laugh, but really I am serious. To get deep down at why you are struggling with trading, you have to get deep down inside yourself, your thought process, your biggest fears and obstacles, your pre-programmed behavior and patterns in life. Like I said before, you've got to face your demons, and you've got to win.

What are some ways you can do this? Well, first, you've got to give yourself a fighting chance. You have to give yourself the opportunity to actually learn from what is happening. One way to do this is to slow the heck down. Eliminate the confusion. Create a brand new blank chart, from scratch, and only put two or three indicators on it. Then put a "freeze" on your chart and your workspace.

Promise yourself you will not change anything for the next two weeks. Yes, oh my, two whole weeks you will not change a single setting, a single color, nothing, so help you God.

Step two is to journal. Don't stick your tongue out at me, young man. You've got to journal! If you are old school then go grab an 8.5x11 notebook and on each page put today's date. On the left put the time, column two put the price, column three put your feelings. Record every single trade. Record why you entered, and why you exited. Don't make it fluffy and pretty. Record exactly what you are thinking. If you are thinking "I feel like it's going up" then you better write that down. If you are thinking "this can't go any higher" then you better write that down.

Come back after having done that for two weeks, and I assure you, you'll be a new man. A new trader. You'll have learned a great deal about yourself. For instance, if in two weeks your chart is different or if you skipped a day or two journaling, you'll have learned that you have no self control or discipline. If in two weeks you completely hate your chart, you'll have learned that what is on your chart doesn't make sense to you and you should then gradually (very gradually) make a change or two, and then freeze it for another two weeks. If in two weeks you look at your journal and see a bunch of patterns like "this can't go any lower" followed by a "got stopped - was wrong, it did go lower", then you'll have learned that you are not doing a good job of reading the chart.

Your journal should also contain what I like to call the "woulda/coulda/shoulda" entries. In real time, as they appear on your screen, you should write down any trade that you wish you had taken but you didn't. Do it in real time, like within a couple minutes of missing the entry. No cheating. Write down why you thought you should take it, and write down why you didn't take it. Example "I really think this double bottom is going to hold" followed by "but I've already taken two stops, so I am going to skip it". Come back and analyze all those woulda/coulda/shoulda trades after a couple weeks and look for patterns, you will be very surprised with what you find.

I'd love to hear from all of you. Am I right? Am I wrong? Are you following my advice? Are you trying these things? Have you been there, done that, and are now succeeding? Have you been there, done that, and are still struggling?

Mike

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