It’s not the number of times you fail that matters. It is all about getting back up after you’ve been knocked down. Ask any successful person and you’ll find that he or she has experienced a mountain of failure. Trading is a challenging profession. Few make it, and of those that do, many eventually blow out their accounts and give up the profession. What’s the difference between the successful, winning trader and the disillusioned would-be trader who gives up: It’s all about expectations, persistence, and a realistic, yet optimistic, attitude.
Positive thinking alone isn’t going to make you a winning trader. You can believe that you are destined to be one of the next “Market Wizards,” but if you aren’t ready to accurately assess your skill level, and put in a heroic effort to develop the skills you need to master the markets, looking at the markets through rose-colored glasses won’t get you very far. The kind of optimism you need to succeed as a trader is a combination of enthusiasm and a willingness to do hard work. It’s similar to the work of an athlete. An opponent might beat you, but you don’t leave the field in despair if you want to be a winner. You stand up, try again, and over time, you hone your skills in a variety of contexts until you feel naturally confident that you can handle almost anything. Each setback represents a new challenge, a learning experience that will bring you closer to your goals.
From a psychological viewpoint, there is a lot you can do to help motivate you to continue. First, you can keep your eye on the big picture. Don’t worry about the minor setbacks that you experience today, this week or this month. Remind yourself that if you continue to practice and hone your trading skills, you will eventually develop the skills you need to master the markets. Every trade you make, successful or not, takes you closer to your goal. You will see a new market condition, or you may learn how you mentally handle a specific challenge.
These experiences teach you and bring you closer and closer to mastery. Second, never stay down for very long. If the markets beat you down, stand back up and try again. Persistence and hard work is the only path to success. The difference between those who win and those who sit on the sidelines is an unrelenting ability to face their demons, overcome them, and try and try again until they make it.
Babe Ruth struck out many times in his career, but overall, we remember his winning averages. Winning traders also make many losing trades, but all that matters, in the end, is how many winning trades that are made and how much money one makes on those trades. You will never find out if you can master the markets if you don’t make enough trades. Don’t sit in the corner and mull over your failures. Take them in stride, move forward, and make the profits you’ve dreamed of taking home.