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Rules for traders

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Rules for traders

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Trading Psychology. It's More Important Than You Think!
For the week of 8/25/2009 11:19:26 AM
By Tom Gentile
With the markets trading at mind boggling ranges, it really makes sense to discuss a part of trading that won't be found on most charts" and that's called Trading Psychology. It's one thing to have a trading plan and system, but actually following it, especially when things aren't exactly going your way, is something else entirely. Following the key trading success rules can help you improve your plans when it comes to real life trading.

Let's face it: losses are part of any business-especially trading. Losses have to be accepted before a business even begins its operation. Here are a few things to remember about losses and how you can make them part of your trading business.
Remain mentally and emotionally focused while trading.
Losses are part of all systems; knowing when to take losses is important.
Always try to be extremely disciplined, and exit your losing trades when your system requires you to do so.
Not taking losses when indicated is dangerous.
Riding losing trades for too long usually results in larger losses and risk of ruin increases.
It's not a good idea to keep changing stops to avoid a loss.
System traders use stops consistently.
Separate yourself as a trader from yourself as a person.
No system can trade the markets without taking losses at times.
Clumping can happen on the losing side as well as the winning side.
Your ability to take losses quickly is a great asset to your trading.

Now this is vital to trading success. Imagine a person trying to become a pro athlete, but he or she sleeps in every day, eats excessively, stays up late and parties every night. Is this person going to become an elite athlete or not? The answer is no, and the reason why has everything to do with the amount of discipline. Discipline, in my mind, is like homework, only it's homework that pays off in dollars in the trading industry. Here are a few rules that I use when it comes to discipline in my life as a trader:
Good trading discipline is vital to my success.
My three successes to the market are: doing my market homework, following through, and using my stop losses.
I train my mind every day to be disciplined and focused.
I see myself every day doing my market homework and following the signals, setting stops.
I track my system exactly as it dictates.
If my system gives me daily signals, I follow them every day.
If my system gives me intraday signals, I follow them during the day.
I do not allow outside influences to affect my discipline.
Placing my orders correctly as my system dictates increases my odds for success.
Discipline to follow through with my system is my friend.
A system without stop losses puts me in a position of unlimited or unknown loss.
I understand that a major aspect of being disciplined is using stops.


Negativity is in all aspects of life. I got enough of them in my family. I remember when I told my family that I wanted to be a trader. Now they didn't call me stupid or an idiot-the rolling eyes said enough. The ability to think positively and block out negativity is key to having consistent profits. The biggest thing negativity can do in your trading business is to keep you from taking that next trade, which, ironically, could be a grand slam in profits. Here are my rules to fighting negativity.
My best tool against negative influences is my system.
Being consistent in my trading means following my rules.
As a consistent trader, I place my orders each day at the same time.
Through consistency, negative influences go away.
I follow through on scheduled assignments, such as order entry, exit, and adjustment.
I plan my trades and trade my plans to facilitate consistency.
I use a trading partner to achieve consistency in my trading.
Fear and Greed are the enemies of consistent trading.
My commitment of consistency blocks greed from my goals and objectives.
Keep goals and objectives realistic to combat fear and greed.

The ability to focus in any business is important. The ability to focus as the president of your own business is vital to its success. This is true in Trading because your report card reveals your focus in daily account statements. Here are a few things that I believe will help your focus as a key to success:
Focus is the opposite of distraction.
Choose to stay on the winning path by focusing on the markets during your market time.
Environment can cause distractions, so remove all distractions such as noise, visual distractions, and clutter from the workplace.
Self discipline, follow through, and consistency are the keys to trading success.
An organized workplace can keep away distractions.
Focus on one trading aspect at a time in small bites.

Success in your trading business is contagious. Having a plan for success, as well as following through and readjusting your goals over time, is highly important. Here are my rules for success:
Success in trading is achieved by working on goals that are specific.
Success is comfortable and positive, not exciting and emotional.
The past is over and done with. I move forward!
I complete trades according to the rules of my trading system. Doing this achieves success in my trading.
Success means seeing my profit goals as well as my security in stops, and I know where my trade will be closed out at any time.
I visualize myself as a master of market skills and as a profitable trader.

Avoiding Bad Habits

You might think this falls into the negativity category, and it will be if you don't block out bad habits and follow the rules below:
Have the capability of reversing any bad trading habits that you may develop.
Accept the fact that as a human, you may fall victim to bad trading habits.
Remember that you can change losing and destructive trading habits.
Know exactly what your bad trading habits are, make a list of them, and refer to them often.
Keep a checklist off all your trading rules and follow all procedures each and every time.
If you are unclear about a trade, simply do not make the trade.
Keep a diary of all your trades and what rules you follow, and follow up on both the winners and losers.
If you have an emotional day, no matter if it's high or low, don't trade that day.
Many errors are subtle, so keep a close eye on your errors and fix them ASAP.

Getting Cocky and Overconfident

Overconfidence can soften your focus and throw you into a state of mind where nothing can go wrong. It is at this stage in trading that everything can go wrong. Really learning the following rules will help you avoid falling into the trap of being overconfident:
Understand that overconfidence can occur if you have too many winning trades.
Catch yourself when you have thoughts that your trading system can do no wrong.
Catch yourself when you say you need to leverage up because you are "never wrong."
Catch yourself when you think you can guess the direction of the markets.
Do not allow overconfidence to cause you to overtrade and bring about losses.
Overconfidence can lead you to a fantasyland of 100% profits, and that leads you to lose your discipline.
If this happens, stop trading and redirect your mind to your trading system.
Live in the reality of your trading system. If you have many winning trades in a row, remember to check the long term results of the trading system, including losses.

Winning Attitude
Following the rules above is great, but it's not enough. Developing a Winning Attitude will stop negative thoughts from creeping in, and outside influences from changing your plan. Here are my thoughts about developing a winning attitude:
A positive attitude enhances your market performance.
Don't dwell on losses if they are part of the system's performance.
Attaining a goal starts by having a goal. Avoid setting goals that cannot be achieved. Achieving your goals means sticking to your system each day.
Achieving your goals means doing the homework before the market opens.
Achieving your goals means placing all of orders ahead of time.
Understand how your system is constructed and its maturity before you take the first trade.
Achieving your goals means following through from start to finish.
Focus on the next winning trade, and leave the last trade behind.
Be organized, consistent, set goals and follow through.
Trading Psychology, in my mind, accounts for half of my trading profits. It doesn't matter how good your system is or how great your trading strategy might be. If you cannot follow both the winners and the losers, then you will not be able to duplicate the system's success.

Learning and following the rules above will help you follow the rules of your system, and that will help you stick to them.

Tom Gentile
Chief Strategist
Profit Strategies Group, Inc.

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