Monday, July 10, 2006

Trading Resolutions

At the beginning of this year, I talked many times about regarding how to improve ones trading. One of them was a set of new years resolutions, while the other was a set of guidelines on the establishment of a trading plan. Now at the halfway point for the year, its time to look in the mirror and own up to your actions and subsequent results.

Mid-Year Reality Check

If you are not satisfied with your trading in the first half of the year (or even if you are satisfied), facing these truths will put you much further along the road to improvement. The trick here is to be honest with yourself. Nobody else has to know your answers, but I do recommend putting your responses down on paper. After all, seeing the reality on paper has a special way creating the necessary change. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Did I apply a proven trading system to all of my trades?

2) Did I apply a disciplined stop-loss approach to every trade?

3) Did I track my results on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?

4) Did I review my winners and losers to determine exactly why they were winners or losers?

5) Did I invest in myself or my trading knowledge?

6) Did I find and develop my own ideas, or did I let the media determine what I would focus on?

7) Did I set specific goals that would in turn determine my trading activity?

If you said yes to all of these things, then congratulations - you probably did better than about 98 percent of traders. If you said no to three or more of these questions, you probably already know that you are not yet reaching your full potential. But dont worry, since the years not over yet. I make this challenge to you. Before the end of the day, write down exactly how you are going to turn your no into yes. And I cant stress enough, it has to be done today. If you put it off until tomorrow, it will be too easy to put it off again until Friday, and so on. Plus, you will be training yourself to be a procrastinator. If you do it today, you will be training yourself to be pro-active, and to take action. Your decision to write down this plan before you finish your day is a powerful indication of just how committed you are to trading success.

The New Year Resolutions

OK, we mentioned above that the mid-year checkup was largely based the new year resolution list sent out in January. To make sure you have the right foundation in place to even go through todays exercise, its worth reprinting them here. These are just a few possible resolutions, but the important part for you as a trader is to set self-management rules that you are committed to, and that are acheivable.

1. I will not trade every day just because I feel as if I have to.

2. I will develop a proven trading system, and realize that one bad trade does not negate the system.

3. I will set profit targets, and will take those profits when they are achieved. I will not change targets in an effort to create just a little more profit.

4. I will not let emotions sway my trade decisions.

5. I will approach trading as if it is a business. I will be strategic, and logical.

6. I will learn something every day, no matter how small, that will give me a greater trading edge.

7. I will keep a trading journal, and note when and why my analysis failed and succeeded. I will review this journal weekly.

8. I will not fight the market. I will capitalize on whichever direction the market is going.

9. I will take small losses rather than let them become large losses. I dont have to be correct with every trade.

10. I will become an expert in one area of trading, whether it be options, one certain stock, or an index. I will master every detail particular to those trades.

11. I will invest in my success, whether it be a book, market data, or a trading coach.

12. I will act upon what the market is doing, rather than what I think it should be doing.

Good day and good trading.