October 27, 2006

Carefree and Profitable

Even though there is great interest in the markets these days, and more opportunities than usual, it's vital to approach trading with the proper mindset. You can't try to do too much, too fast. Successful traders approach trading with a carefree, focused attitude and putting added stress on yourself interferes with attaining this peak performance mental edge. When you are in the proper mindset, you execute trades effortlessly. You concentrate on your ongoing experience. You don't second-guess your decisions and you are not overly influenced by their emotions. But even when things are not going well, you may find yourself thrown off base. You can no longer trade effortlessly. You feel stuck. When you feel stuck and unable to move forward, it's vital to get motivated and go forward. Here's a view key thinking strategies to help you get moving again.

It's important to always look at the big picture. Don't get stuck focusing on a single trade. It's also important to limit your risk. When you focus on one trade as if it is a major event, and if you risk too much on a single trade, you will feel overwhelmed. And when you feel overwhelmed, you are prone to experience stress and choke. It's more useful to minimize the significance of a single trade, both emotionally and financially. It helps to limit your risk by placing relatively small trades (about 2%, for example). There are financial and psychological benefits for limiting risks. A hard reality of trading is that there are few foolproof trading strategies. Even the most reliable strategy is bound to fail eventually. The trouble is that you don't know when a strategy will fail or when it will not beforehand. Your best defense against the sporadic changes in market conditions is to limit your risk on a single trade. Think in terms of the big picture. Your ultimate goal is to achieve profitability across a series of trades. The outcome of a single trade is relatively insignificant. All that matters is the overall outcome. Limiting your risk on a single trade ensures that should you encounter a string of losing trades, you can survive and avoid completely blowing out your account.

When you are feeling stuck, it's also important to think positively and take it easy on yourself. Pessimistic beliefs can be a trader's worst enemy. Many times one may think "I can't be wrong on this trade" or "I must capitalize on every opportunity to make a profit," or even worse, "I must make a ton of money to get caught up and get ahead." These expectations are so high that they can cause uneasiness. When you hold such high expectations for your performance, you place too much pressure on yourself, and cannot maintain a carefree attitude.

It's better to trade in a relaxed and carefree manner. It may be difficult to completely view a trade as a leisurely activity (unless you are so wealthy that it really is just for fun), but there is a lot that you can do to make it fun and carefree. You can limit risk so that you know that you can handle a worst-case scenario. When you know that you can't possibly lose too much, you will feel at ease. In addition, don't put your self-esteem on the line with your money. It's just a trade. Don't seek out glory. Just enjoy the intellectual challenge of trading. You win some; you lose some. Take losses in stride. If you take it easy, you will feel free and creative. That is, when you try too hard, you are bound to crack under the pressure. But when you let the markets take you where they want you to go, ironically, you'll feel carefree and trade more profitably. So don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Slow down, enjoy what you are doing, and when you feel carefree, the profits will come your way. Try it. It's commonsense advice but it really works.


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