In trading as in life, how you think determines the results you achieve. Below are for six key behaviors that you should have on your checklist for trading success. Check to see if you possess the traits and beliefs of winning traders.
1. My trading objectives are perfectly clear, and I truly believe I will achieve these goals. If you have the belief that you will win, you increase your chances of trading to win. In order to have this level of conviction, you must have a thoroughly-tested plan. You also must have a clear vision of how you will proceed with your plan to reach your goal. The more detailed you can visualize your goals being achieved, the more you will strengthen your internal belief and confidence that you will reach your goals.
2. I have created a plan to achieve my trading goals. I'm sure you've heard the saying "I didn't plan to fail; I failed to plan." Without a plan, your results will tend to be mixed and uninspiring. Commit to writing down your trading plan, and make sure you can answer the questions found in a recent TrendWatch on creating your trading plan.
3. I prepare my plan before the trading day starts. If you don't have a plan of action once the trading bell rings, you are moving from the proactive mentality into a reactive approach. I contend that the more reactive you become, the more you will get in late to market moves and dramatically diminish your reward-to-risk ratio. I prepare after the close for the next day's trading, seeking to stay proactive and a step ahead of the rest of the crowd.
4. I regularly monitor my trading results to measure my progress toward my goals. Trading results tend to follow a zig-zag approach similar to how a plane is guided to its destination. At periodic steps along the way, if a pilot is off course, they will set a new course towards the target. This is called course correction. Once you have defined your trading target, your periodic evaluation should lead you to assess what is taking you off course and encourage you to make the necessary corrections to get you back on target.
5. I quickly discard negative emotions that can hurt my trading results. When you lose, you want to learn from the experience, then put it behind you. You cannot afford to dwell on a loss once the trade is complete. You have to have total focus on the new moment and forget about the past, save for the time you allocate to evaluating past trades (which should be done outside market hours).
6. I am focused on the market during the trading day, and not easily distracted by non-market activities during trading hours. This can be a tough one for many traders who have many responsibilities. If this is the case, define the time you will be focused on the market and make arrangements not to be interrupted.
Price Headley is the founder and chief analyst of BigTrends.com.