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Psychology and the Market

When I refer to psychology, I am not talking about market behavior or sentiment. I mean to say that it is the mental state of the trader that is in charge at that moment. The market will do what the market will do, there’s no stopping it. Independent countries can pump trillions of dollars into it, and after moving a measly few points, it reverts back and wipes out that infusion. After you have your well thought out trading plan ready (you did plan ahead, right?), you must not only execute it, but also stick to it.

I believe that once you have developed a positive trading habit, when you find yourself placing minuscule trades without effort, and not worrying about the outcome, because you are confident and not self-conscious, then you are on your way. Remember what I said about trading pennies? Any amount of money will cause your brain to wrestle with the possibility of loss, and then looks to minimize or avoid that loss. You know that going into that trade you may not succeed. Your brain doesn’t understand that, so you must train it.

Once I understood that psychology is ultimately more important than anything when trading, things just started to work. I became more confident, creative, and able to adapt to the changing charts (I don’t care what the underlying is). A separate psychological barrier is the size of the trades, but that will be discussed later. There are some people who are naturals at this, and they don’t have the mental blocks that others start with. They usually focus on other things that may need work. That’s just how us humans are made. It doesn’t mean that we can’t change. So, what are you waiting for? You can change your thought patterns with practice; go do it!

New Year’s Resolutions?

So…what are you “resolving” to do this year? Why regurgitate the same things. Do this:

Focus, take inventory, focus, plan, focus, meet your goals!

Are your goals to difficult? Maybe, but are they realistic? Scale it back, if necessary. If you use any of the psychological times, i.e.: holidays, special days, or other calendar milestones as reminders to keep yourself in check, things might run a bit smoother. Small adjustments allow for easier work along the way. If you know where you stand, you can see your strengths and weaknesses, your surplus and deficiency. Don’t think you know what you have, find it out.

Just remember what Yoda said: “Do, there is no try.” Even if it is small, do. It really adds up.

What to do.

Sometimes we all get in a downturn, a “funk”, so to speak. What is the most difficult part of sticking to a plan? Actually, it’s sticking to a plan! Consistency and reliability is not easy to come by. It takes discipline. Discipline requires training – both regular practice and psychological fortitude. This is a marathon, but it can be at a relatively easy pace, if you train.

Entering a plan on an initial upswing is a great feeling. It’s as if one is on top of the world. But, what to do if that entry is on a downswing? If the trading plan is sound, money management is truly manageable, and the practice of waiting for results is followed, then just wait. Make sure to maintain the proper perspective, and context, for your trading plan.

I like instant gratification while trading just as much as the next person, but if one plan requires I wait 24 hours for results, then I guess I must wait for those 24 hours. There’s nothing I can do about that, if that is the plan. Don’t like it? Develop another, different strategy. Follow your risk and profit guidelines, and if it works quickly as required, good for you!