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The Erroneous Notion of Trading

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While starting out as a trader, you have likely read most of the classic books on trading, technical analysis, money management, or psychology. You might have even executed a few trades with meager success. From a theoretical experience you are not a newbie but from a practical standpoint you still are.


Being a trader is commonly associated with an erroneous picture of freedom. You may be drawn to the flexibility of lifestyle, not having a boss, and having geographic independence. That’s like saying you want to become a racing driver because of the high salaries and traveling around the world. But to be a good racing driver you need to love racing. Not everyone loves racing. Similarly, to be a good trader you need to love markets. Showing “passion” may be overrated for this business, but strong interest coupled with the right approach does correlate with performance. Committing to doing something brings with it the duty to do what is required.


Someone who ponders about making $1 million per year with no boss, and getting out of a job which he hates, he is definitely looking at trading for the wrong reasons. Trading doesn’t work like that as it is not a consistent income. Furthermore, it is not a steady progression like most careers. Success (if it comes) is rather unpredictable, comparable to the evolution of an entrepreneur. You can have great periods and you can have dead periods. A great method can suddenly stop working after years of success, and you may have disasters where you lose a lot of money.


If not pursued earnestly, trading can offer excitement for the time being and serve as a big dream of a glorious life in riches. In reality, chances of prosperity in this case are as likely as with playing the lottery.


Those who claim they wish to be traders but are secretly unwilling to do the work, will never get there. As a mentor, I am honest and blunt to aspiring traders, just as the professor is to an aspiring medical doctor. They won’t be told that due to the hard work in their profession of healing it would be better done in a country where there are less medical regulations with worse tools and technology than you find in the West. If you kill a few poor patients along the way, it would not matter because you are unlikely to be sued or prevented from working further. That is not the discipline you want to see in someone. Becoming an independent trader must not be taken lightheartedly either. Education is of utmost importance in this business, and working with a competent trader can be easier than being self-taught. Those who are relentless in figuring out a methodology are more likely to succeed. If you find investigation, research, problem solving, and frequent setbacks tedious, you would be well advised to do something else.


Regardless of assistance, you should be fairly comfortable with experimenting on your own because even a personal mentor can only go as far as showing you the path. A strategy still has to be based on your very own decisions to be able to trade with confidence. Start with a $10,000 account and trade part-time outside your normal working hours. Set maximum drawdown goals by losing not more than $3,000, for instance. The point of this is not to make money, but to learn trading with real money without taking excessive financial risks. If by the end of year one, you managed to make a profit without losing 30% of your starting capital at any point, then you have some potential. Take your time and put more emphasis on gradual growth with a sound strategy than sudden wealth.


What remains to be said about the brutal reality is that the vast majority of retail traders fail even to break even over their trading careers; let alone make a living from it. Those that do, tend to have an unusual aptitude and passion for markets and trading. Therefore you are generally better advised to keep your job until you have figured out a time-tested strategy. Not being able to watch the market during regular trading hours is not an excuse.

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