I can think back, to a not so distant past, where a few consecutive losses would cause an instantaneous shift in my mental faculties. Due to having endured some substantial losses (like most beginning retail traders) and never having the ability to string together several weeks of consistent results, the whole endeavor of trading was basically becoming "A leap of faith" for me. I had this vague feeling (or delusion? that I could succeed at trading, but the reality of my performance kept hitting me squarely in the face.
So, I would start a session in a very focused manner and closely adhere to my system (or what I imagined was a system )Then I would take a loss...Then maybe two more. Suddenly my mind would start getting flooded with several negative thoughts and emotions..."Who am I kidding? I'll never make it at this. I'm just going to keep losing my money, like I always have. Why did I ever get into this? I really don't know what I'm doing. "
Then, I would start with the impulse trading..the revenge trades..until I would come out of this frenzy and find I was 100 ticks down on the day. A curled up fetal position on my bed is where I would be next..usually accompanied by a pounding headache. The next day, the process would start again. Adding to my stress was the fact that some financial problems I was having were leaving me with no alternative but to actually make money with my trading. To somehow feel the only way you will be able to make money is through trading (especially when there has been only failure) was extremely stressful.
The problem was I didn't have a workable system..and still hadn't managed to keep my emotions in check. I remember writing to Brian ( Panda Warrior) and I would tell him how the trading was making my blood pressure go through the roof and I wasn't feeling well. He warned me that I could have some serious health problems if I kept this up. But I felt I had no other choice. Figure out my trading or end up totally broke.
The good thing about having no other choice is it often forces you to think in creative ways and finally find a solution.
So fast forward to now...I was able to sell my home and have a few other things happen where I bought myself more time..However, in my intense desire to find a workable trading system..I think I finally did it! I have seen many, many months of consistent results. Now, when I lose a few trades. I no longer get frazzled. Why? Because I have positive expectancy. I know that by the end of the week, I will most probably hit my goal. So I now have unwavering conviction that I will succeed. My heart no longer pounds when I am in a trade because it doesn't really matter if any one individual trade wins or loses. I know the math of my system is on my side. In fact, sometimes when my stop is hit, I chuckle. I think back at how disturbed I would get and now it's like "Sorry, you can't upset me now..motherf....cause I win in the long run!
Failure is not an option
Last edited by lancelottrader; April 5th, 2015 at 03:59 PM.
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There are always other choices @lancelottrader .. So was it "figuring things out" that was the reason for the turnaround, or could it be the reduced pressure as a result of 'buying yourself more time,' which enabled you to be more objective in your assessment?
That's a very good question.
I guess the reason I felt there was "no other choice" is that for many years I was out of the job market. I had been doing very well with my Real estate investments...but had issues with the collapse of the Florida real Estate market and it's aftermath. To suddenly find a job...when I had not had one in over 10 years...that would pay me enough to cover my expenses and costs seemed highly unlikely.
To answer your question , was it discovering a viable system..or having reduced pressure..the answer is that it was a combination of both. In my desperation, my brain was focused on a single task..finding a way to trade consistently profitable. I probably would have found that eventually..but it may have taken much longer. I probably would have been in the experimentation stage that you see so many others in..for many more years. Instead, I wanted to find a simple way..and once I proved it worked, I decided I wouldn't keep changing it and tinkering. So it was basically have a few setups that were high probability, be able to read market conditions in Real Time (not by looking at lagging indicators) and win, on average 2 to 3 times the amount of my stop loss. So that by only having to win a little over 50% of my trades, it would still make money.
But even with a good system, if you have overwhelming pressure to make it, it can psychologically affect you to the point where you trade poorly. So, having the pressure taken off was a huge part of being able to follow the system in a calm and rational manner..as opposed to trading in a frightened, anxious state.
Failure is not an option
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I'm assuming you haven't read any of my posts from the last 26 pages..so I will summarize the system..the best I can.
It is basically a hybrid system that can vary somewhat according to whatever market conditions are presenting themselves on any given day..or moment. It is based on a combination of price action setups, order flow, and a recognition of often repeated patterns observed from several years of watching Cl on various timeframes. It involves timing into an entry that allows for a fairly small stop and targets that can vary anywhere from 10 up to 50 plus ticks or more.
There are days when the volatility in Cl presents larger target opportunities and the goal is to take advantage of those days by maximizing the profits. There are times when it may be too late to catch an early part of the move , but the ability to extract a smaller profit is still there. For example price may have moved up already close to 100 ticks..but the trend is too strong for a viable reversal trade. However, some shallow pullbacks and trend re-entries can be scalped fairly easily if one has the skill and experience. I never go for less than 10 ticks on those moves and I have a high degree of accuracy. Another scalp opportunity often arises when price fails at an area and then does a countertrend bounce. Again years of recording and studying these moves gives one a feel for it.
I see no reason to have 50 tick to 100 tick stop losses. I find having price move that far against me..to be stressful. Some believe in not using any stop loss..but again I don't like that kind of stress. That's why I time my entries very carefully, so my stop is in a position that can be small..but also has a good chance of not being hit if the trade moves with some momentum.
Crude is a very tricky instrument to trade and I think it takes a lot of focus to trade the way I do. I also watch NQ to some degree as well since my system works well on it ..when it is moving well. But watching more than two instruments at once can cause me to miss crucial entries..so I only stick to two at the most.
I have struggled with the idea of a maximum daily drawdown since I always feel if one is good,. then they should just continue to take all good trades. However, I have had some very big losing days when I don't use one. In the past I would give myself one, and then continue to trade even after it was hit. Needless to say, I lost a lot on those days. I had to come up with some creative ways of stopping myself. I bought this little safe that you can program to open only after so many hours (or days) has elapsed. When I hit my daily drawdown, I would shut off my computers, gather up the mouses..and lock them in the safe and program it not to open untill the market had closed. That fixed my inability to walk away from "The Casino."
But I use a max daily drawdown now, because I figure if I hit it, either I'm off..or the market is off.
Failure is not an option
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Thanks for the all of the post I just read thru the 26 pages and the videos, I found it helpful to hear your thoughts on how to manage trades, I also trade the CL in a very similar manner and find I trade best with strong momentum and order flow as well. catching a big winner occasionally is something I am looking to add to my trading.
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I had recently made a few changes to my trading in an attempt to increase my weekly tick goal..and I found the results to be rather poor.
Instead of trying to achieve my usual amount for the week...which I had been doing fairly consistently, I decided to implement a daily trading goal. I figured if I hit that goal, I would double my income per week. The problem with a daily tick or dollar goal is that it can make you TRY to make those ticks each day. That can also cause your subconscious to try and look for reasons to take trades..that might not be the best in terms of being a great setup. Also lets say I only need 10 more ticks to hit my goal. I might then start looking for all these 10 tick opportunities..and that's what happened. Because they seem easier to make, I found myself reverting back to being a 10 tick scalper. I am pretty good at that..but my best results over the last few years have been from taking trades that win roughly twice the risk. So that means if my stop is about 10 to 12..I like to go for at least 20. This has a much more forgiving win/loss ratio.
I also realize that my system works best on days where there is strong momentum and directional price movement. My preferred setup is the first or second pullback in a fresh, new movement. There are days when those conditions present themselves and it is fairly easy to spot. I virtually always do well on those days. But on the choppier more erratic days, I can easily get into trouble and quickly hit my max drawdown.
By trying to hit a daily goal, I was taking trades in less than optimal conditions..and doing way more 10 tick scalping. I started playing more countertrend moves and trying to catch tops and bottoms for some quick scalps. Some days this worked and some it didn't. Plus I found when I was down a bit, it was much harder to have a winning day by taking lots of 10 tick scalps on Cl. 20 ticks on CL is not that hard...if you have the right conditions and take the right setups. I can get 30 ticks pretty easily as well.
I also realize that it's ok to not trade a session if I don't like the conditions. With no daily goal, there is no motivation to HAVE to trade. I see no reason to put money at risk if I am not seeing the optimal conditions and setups. If I have to go a few days without pulling the trigger, so be it. This is easier said then done, especially since I seem to be pretty impulsive. A big key is not let the emotion of "missing a move" and getting upset about it adversely affect you. Instead, I am learning to say No...to anything that isn't exactly what I am looking for. This does take a lot of discipline. So, instead of trying to make ticks, it becomes waiting for the perfect conditions...like a Sniper.
Failure is not an option
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Lance, I agree having goals for daily return is subjective. I think there is nothing wrong with have an idea of what you would like to earn per day but it should not control or influence trading behavior. I like to get $500 to $1000 per session I trade. I think that is reasonable. I think it is not greedy. And I think it is quite achievable. A higher goal might not have the same probability. And that's the point. Letting go of expectations around a goal is good but not to have one may be less beneficial. I think it is much better to have a goal of making and income than think trading will lead you to great riches. Well at least for the little guys like me. What is better is to be able to trade, not work for a boss and to choose what I do with my time here on earth. It is a bit like learning not to think you know what the market is going to do. Which we all know does not help.
Dealing with different market conditions is tricky. One thing that I have noticed by chance is that some of my setups suit different days. Or maybe they occur more when the conditions are right. I have not refined this but I have the idea of refining my setups so on a range day only those setups that would suit this kind of day are pervasive. As I write this it sounds a bit "wrong" so I need to do more work on the idea...but anyway I have thought this is how my trading could cope with different days.
I am still trading 1 lot trades and starting to build a database of metrics around the statistics BM and others have talked about in other threads. Hoping to get to 100 trades with the new work I have been doing and get a real honest look at how I am doing.
And you are spot on with saying "No". I find it difficult in the trading moment to be clear and flawless in applying my trading setups...my mind tries to reason me out of taking the trade or the complete opposite and tries to convince me that this is exactly what I am looking for when it isn't.
My best days are when I have 2 trades over two hours and I am out with $800. I am content with that...3 times a week and I have to start controlling my emotions and elation.
I found recently the idea of moving my setups into long term memory through doing lots of rehearsal and repetition. I think this will help in recognizing when to say Yes and No in the trading moment.
Always enjoy your narrative and I hope you continue to share. Cheers, BlueRoo
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As you probably know, the idea of a daily goal is something that I struggled with for a long time. It was purely emotional on my part. I liked thinking I make "X" dollars per day per contract. The truth is, the market doesn't care if you want to make "X" or "Y". It just does what its going to do and its our job to extract what we think we can reasonably expect to extract consistently day after day.
Compounding this issue was the idea that many people both here in the forum and elsewhere kept saying, that " you have to absolutely kill it on days where your winners run and run. But this only frustrated me further. On days where I held, I'd give up 20-30 tick winners only to have them come back to BE or turn into losers. On the days where I took the 20-30 tick winners, it ran like crazy. This drove me absolutely bonkers over time.
After a long time, I finally made peace with the idea of daily bread. Just take a certain amount every day and be happy with that. Except for one thing, I kept thinking daily bread was a set number of tick per day. Again this was/is counter productive. Some days those set number of ticks can be pretty hard to come by. Finally after many many months of emotional struggle, the answer hit me like a ton of bricks.
I primarily trade from consolidation to expansion. This means I wait for narrow patterns to form and then look for that moment in time where price is making its escape from that area. Some people call it a break out and I guess it is but there are lots of nuances that make it more complicated than a simple BO.
Suffice to say, the idea of consolidation carries with it the idea of range expansion. Therefore, I arrived a way to determine the daily bread number based on that range expansion. Sometimes thats gonna be 20 ticks and sometimes thats 40 ticks. Whatever pattern I'm trading has a mathematical target zone. I aim for that zone. That's it. If I make it, then I'm done. That's my daily bread. No more, no less. When I start looking for more, I end up losing or getting less than optimal results.
Add all this up over the week and I end up with a nice week. Size up when the risk is appropriate and a nice trading plan appears.
In a nutshell, daily bread is dynamic and not fixed. This fixes my issue of how many ticks to go for. Its just whatever the patter says to go for....its made a huge difference in my emotions while trading, its allowed me to be much more patient with both the set up and the payoff.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, Leonardo da Vinci
Most people chose unhappiness over uncertainty, Tim Ferris
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Very good points. And just to clarify, I still like having a weekly goal. And if one gets to the point where they are either trying to build up their account or make an income consistently, then it is good to have some sort of track record in terms of weekly ticks. Then you can calculate what you could make eventually by trading more size. Maybe I want 200 ticks a week, but my track record shows that over a period of time I average only about 60. Even though that sounds mediocre, what is that when I get to 5 contracts? How about 10? or 20? 10 contracts at 60 ticks a week is $6000 a week which is nothing to sneeze at.. for sitting at home trading for 2 hours or so a day. I believe this is entirely possible. So if I know my "batting" average is around 60 ticks a week, that is more than enough to earn decent money over time. Now this doesn't mean I hit always 60 a week exactly. Maybe I have a terrible week and only make 20..but the next week I make 100. So I'm talking about an average over time.
Failure is not an option
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