As a trend develops, the reactions, or pullbacks, tend to become smaller. Traders looking to enter the trend wait for reactions to place their orders; as the move becomes more obvious, these reactions will get smaller and the increments of trend movement will become larger. When the reaction suddenly is larger, the move is ending; the change in the character of the move signals a prudent exit, even if prices continue erratically in the direction of the trend.
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Competitive goals can lead to burnout. Michael Jordan who is a compulsive competitor, exhausted himself in continually reinventing new ways to spark the fire in his enthusiasm.
Destination goals, such as, “I’ll get to this particular place by x date” tend to be difficult to maintain since the reward exist in the non-existent future.
Process goals, are increments of cumulative experiences that instantly offer rewards in the present of now. For example, when I first started day trading, I made no attempt to make a lot of money immediately. My immediate goal was to learn market dynamics without suffering major financial losses.
I convinced myself that once I learned how to not loose money, probability favors my chances of starting to make money!.
This approach allowed me to (1) maintain my self-confidence, (2) stay in the game without capital blow-out, (3) develop a non-emotional response to rapid fire decision making, (4) handle small draw down with minimum psychological upheaval, (5) visualize the feeling that I will be doing this for the next 50 years, and (6) secure the knowledge that my journey was a life long commitment to learning.
I believe it is good to set smaller challenges that generate rewards in the present and not in the non-existant future and let the long term goal of consistence of profit flow naturally from a great set of process actions, such as system design, indicator design, system testing, placement of trades, etc.
[” . . . remember that stocks are never too high for you to begin buying or too low to begin selling. But after the initial transaction, don’t make a second unless the first shows you a profit. Wait and watch.”]
Jesse Livermore reiterates the importance of buying with the primary trend and beginning new deployments in small increments. Since trends can run a long time, he wisely points out that absolute stock prices are really irrelevant for buying and selling decisions for speculators.
All that matters for speculators is today’s temporal position within the prevailing trend. If the trend has time to run yet then today’s prices really don’t matter. If you buy today on a bull trend that is not yet finished, odds are that your stocks will head to even higher prices before the trend reverses. Similarly if you short sell an already battered stock when a general bear trend hasn’t yet ended, then you will probably still earn a profit. The key is carefully watching the market conditions and keeping the pulse of the primary trend with which you are betting.
But, since we cannot know for certain how long a trend has left to run before it ends, it is wise to gradually scale in positions as Jesse Livermore taught. Start out by only deploying a fraction of your desired capital in your target bet. If you are right, and the profits come, then you can scale in more as time marches on. But if you are wrong and the markets move against you, the prudent use of scaling shields you from large losses and keeps your precious capital protected until a more opportune time.