This week I tried to trade after a visit to the dentist. As you might guess, I had less than desirable results. The experience reminded me of an important concept often overlooked by traders: if you’re going to execute on the best trade plan, then you have to be the best you can be. Simply put, this means you have to “have your head in the game”, or put another way; you cannot trade well if you are not 100% focused on your task at hand.
It seems simple enough, yet we often push ourselves to trade even though we’re not in our best frame of mind to perform. Remember that a trade plan is not the same as a businesses plan. If you are not at your best, the market will not have no mercy on you, and that could make for a very expensive day. Your success or failure depends in a large part on your ability to focus and handle the pressures associated with trading.
Here are a few suggestions to improve your trade plan and your trading performance:
Sometimes performing your best is as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a big one for me. Have two young children means the possibility of someone waking me up at any point in the night. It’s easy to get caught staying up late watching TV only to have to drag yourself out of bed in time to be ready for the market open, let alone prepare pre-market. My best trading days are the ones where I get to sleep at a decent hour.
A trading friend of mine was going through a rough patch in his marriage. He tried to keep trading during this time even though his life was turned upside-down. Needless to say, this was a recipe for disaster. If you’re experiencing a period of personal strife, or sickness, or in pain (i.e., dentist visit) take a break from trading. Your account will thank you.
New traders tend to be in a rush to make their fortunes day trading. While there are still overnight success stories, they are very rare. Unfortunately, what is more common is the number of traders who blow up their accounts because of their lack of patience and discipline in following their trade plan. Take your time to learn your day trading system. Trading is like anything else in life: you have to practice to get good at it. Don’t rush.
Some of my best trades have been after a vacation. There’s nothing like getting away from the day-to-day grind and clear your head. Trading is not as demanding on your schedule as a normal J.O.B., but it can still take a toll on you. Taking a week off now and again (or even a long weekend away from the computer) can work wonders for your mind and spirit. And when you come back you’ll be surprised at how much clearer you see things.
Unless you have a system that performs 100% of the time, you will have losing trades. Sorry if I burst your bubble but my point is this: don’t beat yourself up if you have a few losing trades. I see a lot of traders who lose their focus just because the market hands them a losing trade. Losing trades are part of the game. The important thing is never to lose more than you can afford. That’s where money management comes in. If you’re employing proper trade management, you don’t need to lose your composure just because the market hands you a loser.
These are just a few suggestions to help you Bring Your A-Game to your trading. The important thing to remember is that if you’re going to perform your best you have to be your best. The market will accept nothing less.
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