Successful traders follow their passion. One often hears traders say, “I love trading so much that I would do it for free if I could.” Indeed, when one looks into the backgrounds of top traders, the story seems to be the same: They all tried to get a job in the trading industry as soon as possible, any job as long as it involved trading in some way. They were fascinated by the markets and the challenges it offered; the money was either secondary or not an issue at all.  However, ask a typical non-trader of what he or she thinks of traders, and the impression is quite different.

Many think that traders are out to make big bucks, achieve high status, and show it all off with luxury cars and nice homes. These may be the side benefits of trading, but they aren’t the primary motivators. Successful traders love the challenges the markets offer and view their work as meaningful. In other words, they take a healthy approach to trading success.

In a recent study, psychologists Say Lim and Donnah Canavan showed the advantages of taking a healthy, versus a conventional, approach to success.  Taking a healthy approach to success entails pursuing goals that are intrinsically interesting and personally meaningful. A conventional approach to success, in contrast, is a preference for work that emphasizes competition, financial reward, and high status (which is similar to the inaccurate stereotypical view that non-traders hold of professional traders).

The advantages of taking a healthy approach to success are notable. Individuals who took a healthy approach to success were better adjusted and more satisfied with life, compared to those taking a conventional approach to success. They were also better able to control their ego; that is, they were able to accept their limitations, rather than have the tendency to exaggerate their abilities and deny their faults. They also put more effort into their work and achieved higher levels of performance.

These findings illustrate the advantages of a healthy approach to trading success. Those who find trading intrinsically satisfying, enjoyable, and meaningful will put in the necessary hard work and achieve high-performance levels. So cultivate a healthy approach to success. Don’t focus on the money and status that successful trading may bring. Enjoy the process of trading. Seek out challenges and the satisfaction of meeting them.

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