Every seminar and book will tell you that controlling your emotions and having discipline in you’re trading are essential to your success. But no one tells you how to achieve emotional control and personal discipline while trading the market
Steps to Controlling Emotions and Gaining Trading Discipline:
Get rid of Traderitis.
Most retail traders trade too often. They react to the market instead of anticipating the market. Brokers, clearing houses, the news media, stock and options seminars, the exchanges, etc all benefit from retail traders activity. The more trades you do, the more profits your broker, clearing house, news media, and others make. They want you to trade as often as possible and they don’t care if you make money or lose money so long as you trade, trade, trade. Traderitis is compulsive trading. It is grounded in the false belief that trading more often will result in more profits. It is a falsehood promoted by those who make money from your trading.
In the stock market less is more. If you made money 9 out of 10 trades and those trades were highly profitable with the one having a small loss, versus 100 trades where 55 trades were losses, and 45 were profitable, which group would make you more take home profits? Remember: quality, not quantity. Every time you trade, there are costs involved. If you have many losing trades it is more than just the loss of that trade, it is the cost of the order, the time you spent on it, and the overhead you incur when trading as a business.
Too many traders have Traderitis and are obsessed with trading and those who benefit from this kind of trader continually feed and nourish the fallacy that you must trade every day. You don’t. In fact if you only trade a few ideal patterns with low risk and strong profit potential you will be way ahead of your peers who trade hundreds of times every month. This is a proven statistical fact that nobody wants you to know.
Don’t count your profits before the trade is completed.
Most traders worry about their profits and check them every day. They get elated when a stock they are holding moves up a few points and get frantic when a stock they are in moves down. They constantly check their held positions and calculate their gains or losses during the trading day. This is one of the biggest mistakes traders make and it creates an emotional state of mind that lacks control. Checking your profits or losses constantly is obsessive, gambling mode trading. And it is not based on facts.
Most traders assume that if they are in profit in a held stock they have made that money. Conversely, if they are losing money, then they take the stance that this is just a momentary loss and not a real loss. This is how most traders think, but it is the opposite of what they should be thinking.
To gain control over emotions and to gain discipline in your trading you must view your stocks this way: When a stock moves against you, you immediately have a loss, even before you are taken out of that stock. If the stock moves a few points in your favor then you have the potential for profits. But until you exit that stock you do not have profits. Only when you sell that stock do you actually have profits. A loss is immediate, even before you sell. Approaching your held stocks in this manner is critical to maintaining the proper viewpoint when holding stocks.
If you view every stock this way, your emotional control is geared for correct responses and decisions for the condition of your trade. If you say to yourself that a losing trade is going to turn around, you immediately increase your emotional level so that instead of thinking logically, you are hoping and praying for a miracle that the stock will turn around. This will cause you to miss subtle chart patterns that are telling you to dump the stock and move on.
If you are in a profitable trade and you say to yourself “look at all the money I’ve made!” you are in an emotional euphoric state of mind. Euphoria makes traders feel invincible, and you will ignore weakening patterns. The result of this euphoric state of mind is that you will either hold a stock too long, or you will take greater risks in your next few trades that will result in losses due to poor analysis dominated by emotions and a false sense of invincibility.
Solution to euphoria: First recognize it. Traders are never brilliant. It is only an ideal trade during great market conditions for that trade. To quell the euphoria, do not trade after you have made a huge profit. Take a few days to settle down. This is not gambling where you can say to yourself “I’m on a roll!” You are most definitely NOT on a roll. Trading takes logical analysis, not super-heated emotions of feeling brilliant. If you stop trading and let your emotions calm down, you will see huge improvements in your consistency of profitability. This is the reality of trading the stock market.