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I am a professional Day Trader working for a Prop Fund, Hope I can help people out and answer some questions
Howdy all, I work professionally for a proprietary trading fund, and have worked for quite a few in my time, hope I can offer some insights on trading etc you guys might have. Bonus for you guys Here are the columns in my trading journal and various explanations where appropriate: Trade Number – Simply is this the first trade of the year? The 10th?, The 50th? I count a trade that you opened and closed just one trade number. For example if you buy EUUSD today and sell it 50 pips later in the day and close out the trade, then that is just one trade for recording purposes. I do not create a second trade number to describe the exit. Both the entry and exit are under the same trade number. Ticket Number – This is ticket number / order ID number that your broker gives you for the trade on your platform. Day of the Week – This would be simply the day of the week the trade was initiated Financial Instrument / Currency Pair – Whatever Financial Instrument or currency pair you are trading. If you are trading EUUSD, put EUUSD. If you are trading the EuroFX futures contract, then put in Euro FX. If you are trading the emini S&P, then put in Emini S&P 500. If you are trading a stock, put in the ticker symbol. Etc. Buy/Sell or Long/Short – Did you buy or sell to open the new trade? If you bought something to open the trade, then write in either BUY or LONG. If you sold(shorted) something to open a trade, then write in SOLD, or SHORT. This is a personal preference. Some people like to put in their journals as BUY/SELL. Other people like to write in Long/Short. My preference is for writing in long/short, since that is the more professional way to say it. I like to use the lingo where possible. Order Type – Market or Limit – When you entered the trade was it a market order or limit order? Some people can enter a trade using a combination of market and limit orders. If you enter a trade for $1 million half of which was market order and the other half was limit order, then you can write in $500,000 Market, $500,000 Limit as a bullet points. Position Size / Units / Contracts / Shares – How big was the total trade you entered? If you bought 1 standard lot of a currency pair, then write in $100,000 or 1 standard lot. If you bought 5 gold futures contracts, then write in 5 contracts. If you bought 1,000 shares of stock, then write in 1,000 shares. Etc. Entry Price – The entry price you received entering your opening position. If you entered at multiple prices, then you can either write in all the different fills you got, or specify the average price received. Entry Date – Date that you entered the position. For example January 23, 2012. Or you can write in 1/23/12 . Entry Time – Time that you opened the position. If it is multiple positions, then you can specify each time for each various fill, or you can specify the time range. For example if you got $100,000 worth of EUUSD filled at 3:00 AM EST, and another $100,000 filled at 3:05 and another $100,000 filled at 3:25, then you can write all those in, or you can specify a range of 3:00 – 3:30 AM EST. Entry Spread Cost (in pips) – This is optional if you want to keep track of your spread cost in pips. If you executed a market order, how many pips did you pay in spread. Entry Spread Cost (in dollars) – This is optional if you want to keep track of your spread cost in dollars. If you executed a market order, how many dollars did you pay in spread. Stop Loss Size – How big is your stop loss size? If you are trading a currency pair, then you write in the pips. If you are trading the S&P futures contract, then write in the number of points. If you are trading a stock, then write in how many cents or dollars your stop is away from your entry price. % Risk – If you were to get stopped out of the trade, how much % loss of your equity is that? This is where you input your risk per trade expressed in % terms if you use such a position sizing method. If you risked 0.50% of your account on the trade, then put in 0.50% Risk in dollars – If you were to get stopped out of the trade, how much loss in dollars is that. For example if you have a $100,000 account and you risked 1% on a trade, then write in $1,000 dollars Potential Reward: Risk Ratio – This is a column that I only sometimes fill in. You write in what the potential reward risk ratio of the trade is. If you are trading using a 100 pip stop and you expect that the market can reasonably move 300 pips, then you can write in 3:1. Of course this is an interesting column because you can look at it after the trade is finished and see how close you were or how far removed from reality your initial projections were. Potential Win Rate – This is another column that I only sometimes fill in. You write in what you believe the potential win rate of this trade is. If you were to place this trade 10 times in a row, how many times do you think you would win? I write it in as percentage terms. If you believe the trade has a 50% chance to win, then write in 50%. Type of Inefficiency – This is where you write in what type of inefficiency you are looking to capture. I use the word inefficiency here. I believe it is important to think of trading setups as inefficiencies. If you think in terms of inefficiencies, then you will think in terms of the market being mispriced, then you will think about the reasons why the market is mispriced and why such market expectations for example are out of alignment with reality. In this category I could write in different types of trades such as fading the stops, different types of news trades, expecting stops to get tripped, betting on sentiment intensifying, betting on sentiment reversing, etc. I do not write in all the reasons why I took the trade in this column. I do that in another column. This column is just to broadly define what type of inefficiency you are looking to capture. Chart Time Frame – I do not use this since all my order flow based trades have nothing to do with what chart time frame I look at. However, if you are a chartist or price action trader, then you may want to include what chart time frame you found whatever pattern you were looking at. Exit Price – When you exit your trade, you enter the price you received here. Exit Date – The date you exited your trade. Exit Time – The time you exited your trade. Trade Duration – In hours, minutes, days or weeks. If the trade lasts less than an hour, I will usually write in the duration in minutes. Anything in between 1 and 48 hours, I write in the hours amount. Anything past that and I write it as days or weeks as appropriate, etc. Pips the trade went against you before turning into a winner – If you have a trade that suffered a draw down, but did not stop you out and eventually was a winner, then you write it how many pips the trade went against you before it turned into a profitable trade. The reason you have this column is to compare it to your stop loss size and see any patterns that emerge. If you notice that a lot of your winning trades suffer a big draw down and get near your stop loss points but turn out to be a profitable trade, then you can further refine your entry strategy to get in a better price. Slippage on the Exit – If you get stopped out for a loss, then you write in how many pips you suffered as slippage, if any. For example if you are long EUUSD at 1.2500 and have your stop loss at 1.2400 and the market drops and you get filled at 1.2398, then you would write in -2 pips slippage. In other words you lost 2 pips as slippage. This is important for a few different reasons. Firstly, you want to see if the places you put your stop at suffer from slippage. If they do, perhaps you can get better stop loss placement, or use it as useful information to find new inefficiencies. Secondly, you want to see how much slippage your broker is giving you. If you are trading the same system with different brokers, then you can record the slippage from each one and see which has the lowest slippage so you can choose them. Profit/Loss -You write in the profit and/or loss in pips, cents, points, etc as appropriate. If you bought EUUSD at 1.2500 and sell it at 1.2550, you made 50 pips, so write in +50 pips. If you bought a stock at $50 and you sell it at $60, then write in +$10. If you buy the S&P futures at 1,250 and sell them at 1,275, then write in +25 points. If you buy the GBP/USD at 1.5000 and you sell it at 1.4900, then write in -100 pips. Etc. I color code the box background to green for profit and red for loss. Profit/Loss In Dollars – You write the profit and/or loss in dollars (or euros, or jpy, etc whatever currency your account is denominated in). If you are long $100,000 of EUUSD at 1.2500 and sell it at 1.2600, then write in +$1,000. If you are short $100,000 GBP/USD at 1.5900 and it rises to 1.6000 and you cover, then write in -$1,000. I color code the box background to green for profit and red for loss. Profit/Loss as % of your account – Write in the profit and/or loss as % of your account. If a trade made you 2% of your account, then write in +2%. If a trade lost 0.50%, then write in -0.50%. I color code the box background to green for profit and red for loss. Reward:Risk Ratio or R multiple: If the trade is a profit, then write in how many times your risk did it pay off. If you risked 0.50% and you made 1.00%, then write in +2R or 2:1 or 2.0. If you risked 0.50% and a trade only makes 0.10%, then write in +0.20R or 0.2:1 or 0.2. If a trade went for a loss that is equal to or less than what you risked, then I do not write in anything. If the loss is greater than the amount you risked, then I do write it in this column. For example lets say you risk 0.50% on a stock, but overnight the market gaps and you lose 1.50% on a trade, then I would write it in as a -3R. What Type of trading loss if the trade lost money? – This is where I describe in very general terms a trade if it lost money. For example, if I lost money on a trade and the reason was because I was buying in a market that was making fresh lows, but after I bought the market kept on going lower, then I would write in: “trying to pick a bottom.” If I tried shorting into a rising uptrend and I take a loss, then I describe it as “trying to pick a top.” If I am buying in an uptrend and buy on a retracement, but the market makes a deeper retracement or trend change, then I write in “tried to buy a ret.” And so on and so forth. In very general terms I describe it. The various ways I use are: • Trying to pick a bottom • Trying to pick a top • Shorting a bottom • Buying a top • Shorting a ret and failed • Wrongly predicted news • Bought a ret and failed • Fade a resistance level • Buy a support level • Tried to buy a breakout higher • Tried to short a breakout lower I find this category very interesting and important because when performing trade journal analysis, you can notice trends when you have winners or losing trades. For example if I notice a string of losing trades and I notice that all of them occur in the same market, and all of them have as a reason: “tried to pick a bottom”, then I know I was dumb for trying to pick a bottom five times in a row. I was fighting the macro order flow and it was dumb. Or if I notice a string of losers and see that I tried to buy a breakout and it failed five times in a row, but notice that the market continued to go higher after I was stopped out, then I realize that I was correct in the move, but I just applied the wrong entry strategy. I should have bought a retracement, instead of trying to buy a fresh breakout. That Day’s Weaknesses (If any) – This is where I write in if there were any weaknesses or distractions on the day I placed the trade. For example if you are dead tired and place a trade, then write in that you were very tired. Or if you place a trade when there were five people coming and out of your trading office or room in your house, then write that in. If you placed the trade when the fire alarm was going off then write that in. Or if you place a trade without having done your daily habits, then write that in. Etc. Whatever you believe was a possible weakness that threw you off your game. That Day’s Strengths (If any) – Here you can write in what strengths you had during the day you placed your trade. If you had complete peace and quiet, write that in. If you completed all your daily habits, then write that in. Etc. Whatever you believe was a possible strength during the day. How many Open Positions Total (including the one you just placed) – How many open trades do you have after placing this one? If you have zero open trades and you just placed one, then the total number of open positions would be one, so write in “1.” If you have on three open trades, and you are placing a new current one, then the total number of open positions would be four, so write in “4.” The reason you have this column in your trading journal is so that you can notice trends in winning and losing streaks. Do a lot of your losing streaks happen when you have on a lot of open positions at the same time? Do you have a winning streak when the number of open positions is kept low? Or can you handle a lot of open positions at the same time? Exit Spread Cost (in pips) – This is optional if you want to keep track of your spread cost in pips. If you executed a market order, how many pips did you pay in spread. Exit Spread Cost (in dollars) – This is optional if you want to keep track of your spread cost in dollars. If you executed a market order, how many dollars did you pay in spread. Total Spread Cost (in pips) – You write in the total spread cost of the entry and exit in pips. Total Spread Cost (in dollars) – You write in the total spread cost of the entry and exit in dollars. Commission Cost – Here you write in the total commission cost that you incurred for getting in and out of the trade. If you have a forex broker that is commission free and only gets compensated through the spread, then you do not need this column. Starting Balance – The starting account balance that you had prior to the placing of the trade Interest/swap – If you hold forex currency pairs past the rollover, then you either get interest or need to pay out interest depending on the rollover rates. Or if you bought a stock and got a dividend then write that in. Or if you shorted a stock and you had to pay a dividend, then write that in. Ending Balance – The ending balance of your account after the trade is closed after taking into account trade P&L, commission cost, and interest/swap. Reasons for taking the trade – Here is where you go into much more detail about why you placed the trade. Write out your thinking. Instead of writing a paragraph or two describing my thinking behind the trade, I condense the reasons down into bullet points. It can be anywhere from 1-10 bullet points. What I Learned – No matter if the trade is a win or loss, write down what you believed you learned. Again, instead of writing out a paragraph or two, I condense it down into bullet points. it can be anywhere from 1-10 bullet points. I do this during the day the trade closed as a profit or loss. What I learned after Long Term reflection, several days, weeks, or months – This is the very interesting column. This is important because after you have a winning or losing trade, you will not always know the true reasons why it happened. You have your immediate theories and reasons which you include in the previous column. However, there are times when after several days, weeks, or months, you find the true reason and proper market belief about why your trade succeeded or failed. It can take a few days or weeks or months to reach that “aha” moment. I am not saying that I am thinking about trades I placed ten months ago. I try to forget about them and focus on the present moment. However, there will be trades where you have these nagging questions about they failed or succeeded and you will only discover those reasons several days, weeks, or months later. When you discover the reasons, you write them in this column.
You have a chart in front of you, a buy and sell button respectively, this basically gives you 50% of probability that if you open a buy or sell at any time your action will end up making money after sometime. "Sometime" adds new variables to the game and makes it more complicated: is knowing the direction for sometime, the market needs to move to increase profit or increase loss. You then go into the volatility reports for lets say EURUSD, and you see that during London session and New York session, it's the time where price statistically moves more, so there is where you want to be if you want to day trade (open and close trades in the same day), this can be also noticed if you zoom out for example M5 of almost any pairs, volume will be bigger in this two sessions. Ok so you have statistics of at what times it may move big, you also know that it may not move or it may range the whole day, but definitely there is going to be big moves. If you analyse the past, with only for example a 30 MA, you will see the 50/50. What else do you need? To be in most of the times you are humanly able following the trend, if price is averaging over any average you want and see useful to add, why would you bet that is not going to average oveunder it for some more time? Add a 1000 MA, what if you waited for each cross and traded it trend following? Here then comes a "must": money management = risk = stay in the game for long = you can lose multiple times and long term it's hard that you even lose 10% of your account. Start with the minimum risk, demo in 0.01. Why? If you can consistently win with 0.01 it's just a matter of optimizing the statistics your demo trading over time has thrown, money will come, lots of it, the amount your confidence as a trader can bear and ultimately because trading is so big and involves almost all of the aspects of your life and personality, your confidence as a human being can bear. But this is skipping to psychology. So, volatility, an average of some x periods to get the trend (not of the market but of the x periods in relation to the market and time, x is important, x can't be 2000 in M5), money management and time to play. What else? When will you close the trades? There are multiple ways each one with pros and cons, price crossing the average (too slow sometimes), price hitting fibos (gotta have a method for plotting fibos the same time each time, check the "Do it yourself" section, 61.8 a.k.a 0.618 and 61.8, god made numbers), being this last one the one I like. Price plays with these levels, nothing magical about it, is just "nature", a forgotten and violated term these days IMHO. There it is, when to open with probability, when to close methodically, how to play your money so you last as long as you don't fail too much repeatedly. This results after studying Ralph Elliot's, W Gann's, Wykcoff's, Pesavento's, Gartley's, Carney's and some others WAY TO LOOK AT THE MARKET. They all found structure in price actions over time, they all understood natural patterns that occur, they all sat in front of some charts, used or created tools for handling those charts, in the end everything is so simple and easy that our minds, past, maybe present, the t.v, Instagram won't lets us succeed. Why? Your mind is your biggest enemy of what you want to do in life. How? Your past in someway defines you, defines what you are looking for in life. Psychology, establishment and relativity. Mark Douglas introduced me (in his videos) to a new way of thinking towards trading. He speaks about beliefs, how they drives us in each decision we make each day from as simple as making coffee, having a bath, dressing nice or dressing in the first place. Beliefs are what makes your past define you today and tomorrow if you keep believing them. A wrong belief of yourself, a wrong belief of the world outside your eyes, a wrong belief of the market (you keep trusting other people about the market, in the end after loosing you trust no one), this leads to what lot's of gurus outside the financial world, will say: trust in yourself. Forex gurus tell you to trust them, pay them so they'll unveil the secrets. No money can change your wrong mindset, that feeling in your chest each time you think about possibilities with Forex (euphoria, dangerous as f not only in forex), that belief that some magical indicator will come, some hidden code of some pro advanced indi if you are more realist, some guy with the answer. You are very alone in this world my friend, money will tear countries apart, cities apart, families apart. People will sell their face for some money, their name, in the end corrupt politicians that don't get caught will enjoy their feasts everyday, with their innocent childs, who see their daddy as their hero, this is not a fair world, what's fair in the first place? A human creation so we can live together in peace, but that's not reality we all know. We are evoluted chimps, we still feel what the cheetah feel's in front of his prey, we share 90% of DNA with most of mammals, as intelligent as we like to think we are, we can't delete our nature, our hunger, our fear, our needs, our instinct (the one rushes adrenaline when you know you are losing too much), because deep inside we all know whats right or wrong, the difference between people is whether you hear that voice, or you shut it with a nicer version. 90% of people in forex (not real statistics, the real number varies from broker hmmm brokers another shady topic), prefers the nice version long term, which results not profitable basically. It's your version (you + all gurus you've seen) not the version the market shows and the deep-you tries to alert. I headed far from an important topic: gurus telling to trust them, a killer market killing you, lots of misinformation around the WWW and you not believing in yourself. What else do you have to face the markets? You are in a triangle: broker (not so hard to get a nice one), market and yourself. Everything else is a lie until the person who is in any way selling you stuff, shows you his profitable record of more than 6 months in any financial instrument, that you look at yourself in the mirror and you can say I trust him, not I want to trust him (even if it's some of each, but hey everything involves risk). LOOK AT THE CHARTS. Want to have "fast money" (intraday), look M1 to M30, even H1 for a bird's view, optimize your profitable and consistent demo results to that market; want to look charts once a day, trade D1, I'd say you don't even have to look at something bigger as it is big enough and you can go to H4 or H1 for finesse entries (can become a vicious circle, how much finesse is finesse?). It's all about trust, confidence and a good plan. Psychology of yourself is so vast, and so unique to each person that I would dare to say that if you are looking for the answer outside of you, you better befriend a trader who is today making money and pray that he literally gifts you his confidence (not his knowledge even if it can help, hi will be sharing his confidence). Your social mind will spawn the hype, the euphoria, you will succeed for a while, market will kill you sooner or later, you will help the market to kill your account. Why? Because your confidence wasn't real, it may be that that day, that week the market moved nicely, or you felt strong and super. How many gurus go live and say "hey today, as a human being, I don't feel great, I would not trade today?" none. They say market is not right ATM, cherry picking, they totally exploit that you can't go inside their screens and really know them, here comes the version you want to believe, you will tell yourself anything, you will tell anyone anything. Here to finish, I'll say that consistency in anything in life starts from yourself. If you can't be consistent everyday with yourself for a long period of time, you will find temporary jobs, temporary stuff, you will keep jumping from gurus, from strategies, you will create better versions on your head, just imagine what version a guru must have created to go and sell forex related stuff instead of searching for how to kill the markets, he may be doing both, in the end none of that will give you anything, you will end up being the stair to the gurus goals. Try to comprehend how human we are, how arrogant we are from a farmers perspective, how or evolution results in our minds plays us tricks, to think the government is real, to think there's order, justice, to think that we can achieve huge things with the help of YouTube videos or paying another human being, the market is flow, manipulation is real (why call it manipulation when you would be doing the same in their shoes(big boys)) is part of the nature of anything you plot with Y and X axis (look for a graph of population changes, harmonics, double bottoms, double tops, in a population changes graph? how can that be?), it may be a cliche but is aaaaaaall an illusion guys, the truth is not good business for the other side of the trades. See you on the other side. "I'll be a big noise with all the big boys"
Motivational Post No: 3 - Learning to Become a Successful Trader
Follow up from previous post:https://www.reddit.com/Forex/comments/5s0kamotivational_post_no_2_how_long_did_it_take_to/ Sharing another one I liked, I would pick this one as the best out of the 3 I've posted, this one is educational as well. Anyway, is theformatting alright, anything I can change to make it easier to read this wall of text? Thanks. POST: Learning to Become a Successful Trader The following was posted as a comment by Ziad in reply to a post on Michael Brenke's Blog, but I'm posting it here (with Ziad's permission) because I believe it contains extremely valuable and genuine insights coming from a very disciplined and successful trader. I would also like to include the following quote by Dr.Brett Steenbarger "Too many traders are looking for setups, when in fact they're the ones being set up." Hi Michael, I've been reading your blog for quite a while now but haven't commented yet. However, I feel I need to comment now. If you don't mind I'm going to be very straight forward, and blunt even, but I hope you'll take it from a spirit of sincerity and genuine desire to help. It's going to be a long comment, so I'm going to break it up into 2 or 3 comments. Here's the situation as I see it: For the last few months, and possibly much longer, you've just been spinning your wheels while thinking that you are getting somewhere. The reason for this is that you are going about learning how to trade in the wrong way, in my opinion. I say this because I've been trading much less than you, a little over 2 years now, and yet because of the way I went about learning and what I focused on, last year I netted $150k while nearly quintupling my account, without a single losing month, and while only risking a very small portion of my account on any single trade. Now there could be many reasons for the difference in performance, but I think one of the main reasons has to do with what you are focusing on and how you are going about the learning process. To try to put it as succinctly as possible, in my view traders that are focusing all their attention on "set-ups" and finding out which combinations of indicators work are never going to become profitable. They are trying to follow the advice of trading books that say trading is simple and psychology is everything. So they search for set-ups that 'work', and that can take the guess work out of trading. They want to be "disciplined" and have simple rules that guide all their actions. But there's a few problems with this. Namely, while psychology is HUGE, it's not everything. And while trading is all about simple principles, actually having an edge is NOT simple. It's a myth that you can have a couple simple price or indicator set-ups and make money consistently if only you are disciplined. That's a load of crap. It keeps the dream alive for wannabe traders who never realize what it's truly about. Well let me tell you what it's truly about... Trading is about being okay with ambiguity. It's about tolerating confusion. It's about sitting with discomfort and being at peace with it. It's about not having an exact script of when to trade or not to trade, or what's really a high odds trade, and being okay with that. It's about exceptions to the rules. It's about contradiction. It's about uncertainty. And yet traders left and right want to make it simple. They want to reduce it to a few simple set-ups to trade with discipline. And yet the market is not simple. The market is all about uncertainty, and complexity, and ambiguity. Simple set-ups could never capture that, and they can never give you a true lasting edge. So what's the solution? Is the problem in the simple set-ups themselves? No, it's in how they're being used. The bottom line is, every trader needs to learn to READ the markets. This means that simple rules will not do. There has to be a synthesis of different elements (whether they be price action, indicators, inter-market themes or whatever), and real-time interpretation must take place. It has to be all about CONTEXT. Once you can read the markets, and don't fool yourself it is a very complex process, then you can choose to employ "simple" set-ups to enter and exit. But the real work will be in interpreting the market to see when you should use which kind of set-up. Seeing a hammer or whatever near a support means nothing unless you've identified the broader picture and gotten a sense of the kind of tactics you should be using, and what the odds are for different scenarios unfolding. Now I know you, and most traders do this to a certain extent, but your main focus is on the set-ups. It's not on reading the market from minute to minute, hour to hour, figuring out the odds of it doing this or doing that, adapting dynamically, and thinking of trade ideas from all your observation as the day unfolds. Rather, it's waiting for some simple set-up to pop up and then taking it. Now is it easier emotionally to have clear set-ups to wait for and trade in this simple manner? Absolutely. But who said 'easy' would make you money. If I've learned anything, it's that the market rewards what is hard to do. It's hard to have ambiguity surrounding your market reads. It's hard being uncertain. It's hard dealing with competing and sometimes conflicting signs. And yet, this is what it's all about. You have to stop trying to avoid this by needing things to be clear cut. And is it hard to be disciplined when there's so much uncertainty about what is the right trade to make? Of course. But instead of trying to avoid the uncertainty by looking for simple set-ups, or some straight-forward method, train your mind to be able to deal with the uncertainty. As for the learning process of how you go about doing this, it's all about being constantly engaged with the markets, trying to figure things out and learn from experience. For me, for instance, what I did was each and every day take notes in a journal all about market action and what I think it means, and how I should trade, and what is working and what's not. I didn't write a journal describing the trades I took, or what my emotions were during the day. It was all about market action. And it was all my perception and interpretation. Day after day, week after week, making mistakes, wrong calls, being clueless as to what was going on, not knowing how I should trade, not knowing if my views made sense or not, and yet I continued taking notes and learning. Then I would view charts and combinations of historical intraday charts, and I'd note certain behavior. For example, I'd study trend day after trend day and try to notice what they had in common and how I could have picked up on it in real time. Then I'd study range days. Then I'd study a price chart of the ES versus the Advance decline line and see what the relationship was across many different days. Then I'd do the same with the ES and TICK chart. And on and on. Over time, this gave me a feel for the markets, and a certain understanding of how certain days differ and many subtle signs and tells for each type of environment and context. As for set-ups, I didn't use any predefined ones. I just formed trading ideas and then tried to get in at good trade locations. Even this, which is the art of execution, is quite complicated and not straight forward. I started realizing that in some environments it's best to wait for pullbacks, in others I need to get in at market or I'll be left in the dust. In some markets I can buy low and sell high, in other markets the opposite is in order. And so on. I became consistently profitable in a timeframe of a few months by doing this. But of course before that I had read 30 or 40 books and so I had all the technical background. I had also worked a lot on my psychology and personal issues. But all of this was in conjunction with a method of learning and trading the markets that was mostly in opposition to what the general wisdom says about simple set-ups and exact rules. Now of course you might say that everyone has their own style, some discretionary and some not. Absolutely. But even the purely mechanical traders are very adept at reading markets, and are aware of all of the complexity and ambiguity inherent in it. Their system might end up being simple, but it will come about through a very deep and complex understanding of markets. And usually this system will take the market environment (i.e. context) into account. It wont just be simple mindless set-ups. In the end, all of what I am saying is meaningless unless you come to a personal realization. Take a look at your trading career thus far. Do you truly believe that if you just learn to focus and take all of your set-ups then your equity curve will reverse and you'll be a consistently profitable trader? Why would the world's top institutions spend millions and billions on R&D when a few simple set-ups could make them all of the money. This doesn't mean that to make money you need extremely complex mathematical models. Far from it. What it does mean is that you need extremely complex mental maps that take time and experience to develop, and that will never develop if you spend the whole trading day simply waiting for set-ups to materialize. That just won't cut it. Right now your learning curve is stagnant because you're not truly studying the markets. Your day is wasted in waiting mode. It's not in observing and absorbing mode. Also, because you fear loss, you aren't willing to experiment. This means that you aren't making mistakes and failing regularly, which is what you need to do to learn quickly. So to conclude, based on all of the above, my advice to you would be to stop trading and make a mental shift. Realize what you need to do to become successful, and it's definitely not staying on this endlessly unfruitful path being supported by the hope of future profits. You're just running in your place unless you change your focus and your learning method. And if you thought the journey was tough so far, you haven't seen anything yet. Get ready for uncertainty and ambiguity like you've never seen it before. But this shouldn't be scary. It should be exciting, because this is what trading is all about. This is why it's called an ART. And it truly becomes one when you change your focus and your learning process. Then everything, including success, becomes possible. And until then, it'll be a distant dream that keeps appearing to be so close and yet stays so far away. So you need to re-align with a new thought system and then get on the simulator and trade. Take losses. Make mistakes. Be clueless. Don't be afraid of it. It's okay, that's the only way you'll progress. And trust me, progress you will. Best of luck to you, and I wish you much success. Ziad
ChuckJune 29, 2009 at 5:44 PM I re-read Ziad's post again today (and no doubt will re-read it many more > times) because it really makes me think about how I analyze the market > each day and how I fit my own setups inside a discretionary plan that has to take into account all the "reads" the market is giving, or at least how I interpret those reads. Ziad must be a brainy guy. I have described the market as being like a maze whereas we show up at the same front entrance every day, and we navigate the maze in the same way (i.e. the same timeframes and indicators every day), and we exit at the same place each day, but every day the walls of the maze are switched around so that the paths are different each day. That's how I see Ziad's premise (a correct premise I believe). We enter the maze each day with the same ability to turn right or left, but unless we see the bigger picture and learn to understand and "get a grip on it" on the bigger view mentally,the turns will lead us to dead ends. Maybe that's confusing but executing our setups without being able to interpret the bigger picture "good enough" will lead to frustration and a lot of "what the hell is going wrong?" frustration.
I'm glad you liked the post Chuck. I felt I had to write it because I know how bad I wanted to succeed at trading when I first started out and how I searched for every inkling of advice I could get. So when I have the chance to offer timely advice I always have to take that opportunity. And since we're on the subject, I'll share a couple more things with you. Every day I psych myself up before the trading day and during it so that I can have that killer mentality needed to have peak performance in trading. One thing I read every day is something that I wrote to remind myself what trading is all about and where my focus should be. I wrote it because whenever I faced adversity and had ups and downs it always demotivated me and knocked the wind out of my sails temporarily. But I realized that to perform at a world class level I couldn't let that happen. So I wrote the following, and I read it every day at least once or twice: "It’s not meant to be easy to do all of this; in fact it’s meant to be very hard. If it were easy anyone could do it. Almost everyone knows what it takes; few can actually do it consistently. That's the challenge. When adversity strikes even when you're doing the right things, it’s not unfortunate because greatness is not just about doing the right things, but about doing them even when they cause pain and discomfort- weathering the tough times is the inherent prerequisite for being great. Adversity is built into the game and therefore it’s not an unfortunate set-back that is keeping you from your potential; rather your potential is cut very short without being able to deal well with adversity. So expect great results long-term, but adversity and ups and downs short-term. It’s got to always be about doing the long-term beneficial, not the short-term pleasurable. And we don’t deviate from that, no matter the pressure. And we relish the opportunity to be mentally tough when adversity strikes when so many would wilt and when it feels so unnatural to be optimistic and confident. That is the real goal and priority. Now keep conditioning- constantly reprocess and replace any thoughts that aren’t in line with all of this. It will take a great commitment to unlearn old thinking patterns and instill a new way of thinking to the point of habit. And you can do it." Reading this reminds me that I'm not a victim of circumstances. That adversity isn't some external factor sabotaging my results. It's part of the game. In fact, it's what the game is all about! You have to learn to relish the opportunity to remain poised when losses hit or when you make mistakes. Take pride in it and make it your main focus. Love trading's inherent difficulties because the ability to handle them is what will truly set you apart. And always remember: this is a game of hits, losses, and misses. Those that can take them best ARE the best. I wish you all the best in your trading. Ziad Credits:http://www.eminiplayer.com/2009/06/learning-to-become-successful-trader.html
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