One of the hardest truths about trading to implement, is that if you hope to become consistently profitable you’re going to have to think and act like you are, BEFORE you are.
Aspiring traders should follow and mimic the mental traits, attitude, belief systems and trading processes of those successful traders and investors that have walked before them. This seems obvious and sounds relatively easy perhaps, but there’s a reason why so few people actually achieve trading success. You need some insight and help with what you need to actually change and do, if you want to start making money in the markets..
The main reason most people fail at trading is that people generally don’t like to consistently do anything that is somewhat “boring” or “uncomfortable”. Even when it comes to such important things like health and fitness for example, most people know what they SHOULD do, but they knowingly don’t do it, even when they are aware of the consequences.
It is when these “consequences” seem “far off” or “a long time away” that we start to ease up on our dedication to the discipline required to succeed. So, you need to keep these consequences in your mind, so that you begin to place more value into doing what you need to do to achieve what you want.
Want to know the fastest way to lose all your money trading? Trade like you’re desperate. Or, if you want to lose your money REALLY fast, trade like you’re desperate and not even know you’re doing it!
What is “trading like you’re desperate”?
Trading like you’re desperate essentially means you are “desperate” to make as much money as you can as fast as you can, and this is what prevents most traders from actually ever making money, ironically. When you do things like trade when your edge isn’t there, or increase your position size beyond what you know you’re comfortable with losing or otherwise deviate from your trading plan, you are trading as if you’re “desperate” to make money. You will have to stop this if you want to think and trade like a millionaire.
Millionaires operate from a mindset of abundance. They don’t feel desperate to make money, and not just because they are millionaires. It’s because they see the endless opportunities in the market and elsewhere in business, so they don’t feel like they’re in a “rush” to take the next thing that comes along. Instead, they feel like they should wait patiently for the most obvious trade setup or perhaps the lower risk opportunity to come along.
Here is one of my favorite quotes that relates to not trading like you’re “desperate”:
I just wait until there is money lying in the corner, and all I have to do is go over there and pick it up. I do nothing in the meantime. Even people who lose money in the market say, “I just lost my money, now I have to do something to make it back.” No, you don’t. You should sit there until you find something. – Jim Rogers
I know it can be difficult and cliche sounding, but honestly, if you want to become a successful trader you’re doing to have to start trading as if you’re already a professional. The habits and mindset of a losing trader (desperate to make money) are NEVER going to translate into consistently making money in the markets. So, even if you have a $200 trading account, you have to trade it as if you are NOT desperate to grow it too fast or you WILL blow it out, quickly.
One of the biggest distinctions between a successful trader and a losing trader, is that the former values performance whereas the latter primarily values money. When you value your actual trading performance in the market, you start focusing on all the right things and developing the proper trading habits that cause your performance to remain positive. When you value only money, you start to forget about all the things you need to do properly to improve your performance. Things like having a trading plan, being disciplined and not over-trading or risking too much per trade, holding your trades longer, placing your stops further away, etc. You value what you need to do to see your equity curve consistently go up.
You see, it’s impossible to value your trading performance and not also value the proper processes and habits that allow you to see your trading performance improve. But, when you start only valuing the money, you can easily forget that it’s not just about “making money”, it’s about SLOWLY making money over time. Because trying to make “fast money” always results in LOST MONEY.
Focus on performance, on the actual trading “game” and being good at it, not on the money.
The goal of a successful trader is to make the best trades. Money is secondary. – Alexander Elder
Self-doubt does not help anything for the most part. Yet, time and time again traders will stare a perfectly good price action signal in the face and not take the trade, because they’re afraid, for one reason or another. They are doubting themselves and they are not confident in their ability to trade.
One thing you’re going to have to begin doing right away is thinking and acting more confident in your trading abilities. Just like in life and in business, the confident players are typically the ones who come out on top, it’s the same in trading. I’m not saying you have to be some “outgoing prick” but you need to at least have solid confidence in yourself and your ability if you want to make money trading. Fear, insecurity and hesitation are not attractive qualities in relationships, business or trading; they do not attract people or money, so figure out how to drop them, quick.
This quote by famed trading educator Dr. Van K. Tharp discusses how to build confidence in your trading. First, you learn and study the markets, then you develop a refined trading strategy and then you practice it until you believe in it:
The top traders that I’ve worked with began their careers with an extensive study of the markets. They developed and refined models of how to trade. They mentally rehearsed what they wanted to do extensively until they had the belief that they would win. At this point, they had both the confidence and the commitment necessary to produce success. – Dr. Van K. Tharp
Side note: Being a “confident” trader does not mean you should be a “cocky” trader, and there’s a big difference. A cocky trader will take stupid risks, and too many of them. A confident trader will stick to his plan and execute his trading strategies when he sees his signal present, he doesn’t hesitate but he isn’t stupid and careless either. Hopefully, you see the difference.
I’ve written a multitude of lessons discussing trader psychology and behavior and how significant having the proper trading mindset is. Check out my article on the psychology of forex trading, to learn more.
Knowing how millionaire traders think about trading is only half of the equation, the other half is how they act in the market. As you may well know, it’s one thing to know something and an entirely other thing to put it into action and actually DO IT. So, I don’t want you to just read this lesson and think you “know it all”, I want you to actually put it into action in your trading.
Anyone who’s followed me for any length of time has probably read one of my lessons on end of day trading and why you should do it and how powerful it is. But, let me just repeat it here: end-of-day trading is how most millionaire traders trade. How do I know this you ask? It’s easy. There simply aren’t enough high-probability trading opportunities in the market each day, week or month to allow most traders to day trade and become really successful at it. Furthermore, day-trading is often a catalyst for people to trade too much, risk too much and do everything else wrong. I really can’t say enough bad things about trading too frequently, if you don’t believe me, it’s only a matter of time before you find out through trial and error!
This quote by Jim Rogers is one of my all-time favorites on over-trading:
One of the best rules anybody can learn about investing is to do nothing, absolutely nothing, unless there is something to do. Most people – not that I’m better than most people – always have to be playing; they always have to be doing something. They make a big play and say, “Boy, am I smart, I just tripled my money.” Then they rush out and have to do something else with that money. They can’t just sit there and wait for something new to develop. – Jim Rogers
Controlling position size is really one of the overall keys to trading success. If your position size is in-check then it’s going to go a long ways to calming your mind down and putting you into the proper trading mindset. Also, managing / controlling your position size is one good example of HOW you trade from a mindset of abundance and opportunity, instead of desperation, as I discussed earlier. Keeping your position size at the dollar risk level you know you’re OK with possibly losing per trade, means you’re staying calm and you’re Ok with whatever the outcome and you’re not trying to make “fast money”; you aren’t desperate.
As the following quote from the trading great Paul Tudor Jones highlights, we should be more focused on protecting our capital than on “making money”, because when you focus on being a defensive trader, everything else tends to “fall into place”.
“I’m always thinking about losing money as opposed to making money. Don’t focus on making money, focus on protecting what you have” – Paul Tudor Jones
I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you’re already where you want to be with your trading. You’re making consistent money in the markets for a year, you have a plan you’ve followed to get here and you are comfortable with your risk per trade. You have no issues with losses because you know that as long as you stick to the plan, the wins will eventually make up for them and much more. Now, every time you sit down to look at the charts, before you turn on the computer, do this same exercise or similar. Every time.
Eventually, we do what we think about the most, whether those thoughts are positive or negative, hurtful or helpful to our goals. Hence, all of this, trading success, etc. starts in your head, as thoughts. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true that “thoughts become things”, so be very careful what you are focusing on when you think about trading. Ask yourself, are you thinking about “dollar signs”, money and all the things you’ll buy with it? Or, are you thinking about your trading performance, about a consistently rising equity curve over time and about becoming a more calm and self-controlled human being? Start implementing positive trading habits and effective trading strategies. Fill your mind with positive yet realistic expectations about what is possible in the market and set sail on the journey of self-discovery and improvement that IS trading, and don’t ever look back.