If you’re like most traders, you are in this business to make money, big money. In all probability, you are ambitious, independent-minded and ready to take on the world. With this ambition usually comes a need to be the best. Only the people at the top of the field achieve the highest level of success. Although striving for expertise is a prerequisite for success, it usually coincides with a need to be perfect, and a fear of failure. If you are too much of a perfectionist, you may fear being wrong, losing money, or missing an important trading opportunity. Ironically, if you strive for extreme perfectionism, you may choke under the strain.


In our status-oriented society, we often work under the assumption that we must be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving. We tend to believe that if we make a mistake that we will be punished. The development of this belief is understandable. As we grow up, whether it is at home, school or work, we often face adverse consequences for not being scrupulously proficient in everything that we do. But holding such a belief produces fear and anxiety, which for traders often produces hesitation and self-doubt.

In addition, if we believe that we must always be competent, we will expend all our precious psychological energy mulling over the negative consequences of failing, rather than focusing on what we are doing in the here-and-now to implement our current trading plan. Traders who believe they must be thoroughly competent spend all their time worrying about what they did wrong, what may go wrong, and how they will recover should they fail. These thoughts are distracting and obscure the flow of immediate experience, and the ability to read current market activity with unfailing accuracy.

For your long term enduring success, it is vital that you learn to ease up. You don’t have to be perfect. You are bound to make mistakes occasionally, and if you are consumed with avoiding them, you’ll be so anxious and fearful that you will make even more mistakes. In addition, trading isn’t exactly a science. Even when you think a trading plan through carefully, you can’t account for every possibility. An unexpected event may ruin your plan and there is nothing you could have done about it, but manage your risk and chalk up it to fate.

Sure, you don’t want to make too many mistakes, but you can make a few occasions with little repercussions. Striving for perfectionism is an important ideal to hold, but don’t forget that it is just an idea. You might try to reach for it, but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get there. All you can do in the end is do your best and keep building up your trading skills. If you keep trying to excel but stay realistic, you’ll eventually achieve enduring success.

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