Whether you’re a novice or seasoned trader, there are days when you face setback after setback: Adverse events go against you. You make a trading error. You misread the markets. The possible setbacks can be endless, and it hurts a little to watch your account balance take a hit when one of them catches you off guard. But whatever roadblocks get in your way, it is vital that you take them in stride.
How can you gracefully take setbacks in stride? You could be naturally cool and confident. Like a “surfer dude” who just rides the waves with little worry, you can go with the flow. Are there traders who are naturally laid back and easygoing? There may be some, but a person with such an easygoing personality type usually lacks the unwavering discipline needed for long-term financial success. If you are the kind of person who saved up enough money to have a decent trading account, it’s unlikely that you are the kind of person who is so laid back that setbacks are completely unimportant.
If you are like many traders, you take life seriously. It took the effort to build up your assets and you are not willing to just throw your money away on a whim. Indeed, you are probably on the “anal” side in terms of your personality. You are likely to be a professional who was rewarded for working hard and showing self-restraint. And you probably showed self-restraint in more than your work life. In your personal life, you probably scrimped and saved until you had enough money to trade the markets.
This general approach to life may not be viewed as cool and laid back by most people, but these personality traits are conducive to the trading profession. Trading requires discipline, and “anal” types of people are often good at details and maintaining discipline. But, on the other hand, they also tend to worry too much about following the rules and fuss over minor details that are relatively unimportant in the big scheme of things.
In many ways, if you are a person who naturally shows self-control and discipline, you must learn new ways to behave when trading the markets. You must work around your tendency to show extreme self-control. What can you do? There are many thinking strategies you can use to take setbacks in stride.
The most important strategy is to anticipate everything that can go wrong. Live by Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Now, not everything will go wrong, but if you live under the assumption that things are bound to go wrong, you won’t be caught off-guard. You’ll be ready to face a setback. A second strategy is to have realistic expectations. The adage, “Life can be unfair at times” is useful to consider. Remind yourself that “hard work does not always pay off,” and remember that the markets may not always cooperate with you. In many ways, you must respect the markets more than they will ever respect you.
“The markets are always right.” If you can accept these premises about trading, you’ll be ready to cope gracefully. But if you demand that the markets conform to your preconceptions, you’ll constantly feel slighted, beaten, and frustrated. Stay unemotional. Avoid imbuing commonplace trading events with emotional significance. Things go wrong. That’s part of the game of trading. Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. If you can stay focused on your ongoing experience as it naturally unfolds, and methodically do what you need to do next to trade skillfully, you’ll cope with any trading setback gracefully.