1.) Respect the price action but never defer to it.
Our eyes are valuable tools when trading, but if we deferred to the flickering ticks, stocks would be “better” up and “worse” down. That’s backward logic.
2.) Discipline trumps conviction.
No matter how strongly you feel on a given position, you must defer to the principles of discipline when trading. Always try to define your risk and never believe you’re smarter than the market.
3.) Opportunities are made up easier than losses.
It’s not necessary to play every day; it’s only necessary to have a high winning percentage on the trades you choose to make. Sometimes the ability not to trade is as important as trading ability.
4.) Emotion is the enemy when trading.
Emotional decisions have a way of coming back to haunt you. If you’re personally attached to a position, your decision-making process will be flawed. Take a deep breath before risking your hard-earned coin. See related link.
5.) Zig when others zag.
Sell hope, buy despair and take the other side of emotional disconnects. If you can’t find the sheep in the herd, chances are you’re it.
6.) Adapt your style to the market.
Different investment approaches are warranted at different junctures, and applying the right methodology is half the battle. Map a plan before stepping on the field so your time horizon and risk profile are in sync.
7.) Maximize your reward relative to your risk.
If you’re patient and pick your spots, edges will emerge that provide an advantageous risk/reward. There is usually one easy trade per session if you let it show itself.
8.) Perception is reality in the marketplace.
Identifying the prevalent psychology is necessary when assimilating the trading dynamic. It’s not what is, it’s what’s perceived to be that dictates the price action.
9.) When unsure, trade “in between.”
When in doubt, sit it out. Your risk profile should always be an extension of your thought process and when unsure, trade smaller until you establish a rhythm.
10.) Don’t let your bad trades turn into investments.
Rationalization has no place in trading. If you put on a position for a catalyst and it passes, take the risk off — win, lose or draw. Good traders know how to make money but great traders know how to take a loss.
There are obviously more rules but I’ve found these to be common threads through the years. Where you stand is a function of where you sit. So please understand that some of these guidelines may not apply to your particular approach.
As always, I share my process with hopes it adds value to yours. Find a style that works for you, always allow for a margin of error and trade to win, never trade “not to lose.”
And remember — any trader worth his or her salt has endured periods of pain but if we learn from those mistakes, they’ll morph into lessons. For if there wasn’t risk in this profession, it would be called “winning,” not “trading.”