1. Failure to have a trading plan in place before a trade is executed. A trader with no specific plan of action in place upon entry into a futures trade does not know, among other things, when or where he or she will exit the trade, or about how much money may be made or lost. Traders with no pre-determined trading plan are flying by the seat of their pants, and that’s usually a recipe for a “crash and burn.”
2.Expectations that are too high, too soon. Beginning futures traders that expect to quit their “day job” and make a good living trading futures in their first few years of trading are usually disappointed. You don’t become a successful doctor or lawyer or business owner in the first couple years of the practice. It takes hard work and perseverance to achieve success in any field of endeavor–and trading futures is no different. Futures trading is not the easy, “get-rich-quick” scheme that a few unsavory characters make it out to be.
3.Failure to use protective stops. Using protective buy stops or sell stops upon entering a trade provide a trader with a good idea of about how much money he or she is risking on that particular trade, should it turn out to be a loser. Protective stops are a good money-management tool, but are not perfect. There are no perfect money-management tools in futures trading.
4.Lack of “patience” and “discipline.” While these two virtues are over-worked and very often mentioned when determining what unsuccessful traders lack, not many will argue with their merits. Indeed. Don’t trade just for the sake of trading or just because you haven’t traded for a while. Let those very good trading “set-ups” come to you, and then act upon them in a prudent way. The market will do what the market wants to do–and nobody can force the market’s hand.
5.Trading against the trend–or trying to pick tops and bottoms in markets. It’s human nature to want to buy low and sell high (or sell high and buy low for short-side traders). Unfortunately, that’s not at all a proven means of making profits in futures trading. Top pickers and bottom-pickers usually are trading against the trend, which is a major mistake.
6.Letting losing positions ride too long. Most successful traders will not sit on a losing position very long at all. They’ll set a tight protective stop, and if it s***they’ll take their losses (usually minimal) and then move on to the next potential trading set up. Traders who sit on a losing trade, “hoping” that the market will soon turn around in their favor, are usually doomed.