Have you ever been tempted to go into a chat room and brag about how well you did on a good trading day? Perhaps you called up a buddy under the guise of giving emotional support when what you really wanted to do was boast about how much you made that day. It may be fun to build yourself up occasionally, but you pay a price for it. The more you focus on maintaining an image of yourself as a winning trader, the more you make trading interpersonal. You start to care what other people think, and suddenly, a profession that is usually a solitary endeavour requires that you consider what others think.

Soon, you aren’t an independent-minded trader but a slave to your reputation. In the long run, you probably will start cracking under the pressure to maintain an image of yourself that is hard to keep up. Trading is one of the few professions where the only person you are competing against is yourself. Although you often trade against other market participants, they aren’t aware of what you are doing, and they have no personal connection to you. You don’t know who they are. You merely see the consequences of their actions, but it isn’t personal in the end. It’s useful to remember that. The more you can trade independently, the more you can trade freely, creatively and profitably.

Successful traders work independently and don’t care how others are doing. They follow their own timeline, follow their own passion, and look inward for where to go next. As a trader, you are the one who needs to hone your trading skills. You are the one who must find a method that matches your aptitudes and personality. Your opinion is the only opinion that matters, and it isn’t necessary to see how others are doing.

How you perform has nothing to do with how others perform. Indeed, comparing yourself to others is likely to make you feel jealous or envious of others. Upon seeing that you are doing relatively poorly compared to a fellow trader, you are likely to think distracting thoughts such as, “Why can’t I do as well?” or “I must not be as good of a trader as I had thought,” Such thinking does nothing to keep you focused on honing your trading skills.

Don’t look at anyone else’s record but your own. You’ll often be tempted to compare your current performance to that of others. That’s how it’s been throughout your life, and it’s not easy to change a lifelong pattern overnight. But with trading, you must restrain this urge. Everyone has a different learning curve. To keep your spirits up, you’ll do best as a trader to focus on improving your past performance record, rather than looking at those of other traders. You don’t know what factors created their performance records, so comparisons can only mislead and hinder you. Other people’s records do not have a direct bearing on your own record. By searching for factors that are going wrong with your method, however, you can identify the personal factors that have been specifically holding you back, those that are unique to you.

Avoid comparisons to others. Don’t make trading about keeping up with your friends and maintaining your reputation. Trading independently requires that you go your own way, and you can’t go your own way when you’re preoccupied with what others think. So keep to yourself. You can trade freely and profitably if you do.

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