When you first get the big idea that you want to be a trader, you’re excited. Maybe you’ve finally found the road to easy money, you can be your own boss, do as you please, and all with the possibility to make a huge income. You can also start part time and keep your day job.
What a great idea! You love math and numbers and games of skill! That excitement gets you through the early phase, whether it’s reading trading books, creating a detailed trading plan, or putting yourself through a seminar and researching trading systems, styles, and methods.
But somewhere around the time you can’t seem to make a winning trade, or you’re struggling with stopping out for a loss when you are wrong, or you’ve spent so much money on software, seminars, trading books, and newsletters you start feeling less like a trader and more like a sucker, you start having second thoughts. Is it even possible to make money at this? How much time and money have I spent just for the privilege of losing money? Not to mention the mental and emotional pain of trading too big or several losses in a row.
You wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to give up your big dream and go back to your old life. One where your job pays you instead of you paying it, you don’t care that you just can’t trade and just want a job with a steady paycheck and leisure time to enjoy without all the work in the off hours.
How do you keep going when being a consistently winning trader seems as far off as a pipe dream?
You’ve hit what everyone hits – the wall of resistance.
Beginnings are where the energy is. When you start something new you’re pumped up, excited to get going. You are unrealistic and have illusions and delusions of what the reality you seek will even be like, you have no reference point. All the things you think you need to do to make your goal happen are new, and you take them on with joy and enthusiasm not to mention naivete.
Getting deeper into learning to trade is tough. This is where your enthusiasm flags, and you may be tired and lose sight of why you went after your big idea to trade in the first place. The middle is where most people give up. It is much easier to wade into the ocean up to your knees or waste but it gets to a whole different level when you start trying to swim against the waves or surf the ocean.
You don’t have to give up. You just need to know you’ll hit a wane of enthusiasm once your have a better understanding of the reality of the markets and trading, you can get through this phase or you can discover that trading is just not for you.
Here are six things you can use to keep going when your goal of being a winning trader seems out of reach:
1. Imagine yourself achieving your goal. When you lay down out night imagine what your life would be like if you were successful as a trader.
2. Remind yourself daily of why you want to be a trader. Where there is a strong enough why we will find a way. How will you or your life be better after you are a successful trader? Whatever your goals are from successful trading, keep them at the front of your mind. You could pay your house off. Quit your day job. Build your kids a large college fund. Trade your retirement account into such a large amount that you can retire 20 years earlier than you thought possible. Or be financially independent.
3. Get support, especially from successful traders who’ve done what you’re attempting. Join a trader’s group, or get a friend who is a successful trader to help keep you accountable. Interview a successful trader and offer them a small gift for their time. Share your doubts and ask for advice and help.
4. Act as if you haven’t lost your passion for the markets. (You must have a love and passion for trading because if you do not have a love for what you are doing you will quit due to the level of difficulty in breaking into the 10% of wining traders). Sure, you’re cranky or tired, so fake it. Keep going anyway, knowing that each step gets you closer, even if it’s hard or doesn’t seem to be moving you forward. The bonus? Discipline is great for self-esteem. Taking on the markets and winning is a huge victory and will build yourself up in your own mind as a successful trader. A key to successful trading is holding the right image of yourself in your mind, seeing yourself as a successful trader due to many winning days, months, or years.
5. Diversify your life, you can not trade to the detriment of your family, friends, and health. I believe to be a happy and balanced trader we need to manage our health, our relationships, and peace of mind through mediation or prayer.
6. Celebrate successes along the way. Build in mini-achievements and reward yourself when you hit them. A winning day, month, or year can not be taken away you have proven you can trade. Make a decadent dinner, buy that new trading book you’ve been wanting on, or spend a night just having fun with your partner or take a nice relaxing vacation.
I can tell you from my experience over the past 14 years in the markets my only two regrets are that I didn’t start trading younger and I did not learn how to trade correctly fast enough.