I’ve heard from many traders that they often take decisions based on instincts. Actually, all non-quants use intuition in some form or another. If you are not using a program that takes all signals that your system produces, how do you decide between several equally good looking trading setups with similar risk to reward? Do you take them all or do you concentrate on only a few? The odds are that you are doing the latter and your ultimate choice for capital allocation is subconscious.
Even though we are defined by our decisions, we are often completely unaware of what’s happening inside our heads during the decision-making process.
Feelings are often an accurate shortcut, a concise expression of decades’ worth of experience.
The process of thinking requires feeling, for feelings are what let us understand all the information that we can’t directly comprehend. Reason without emotion is impotent. (more…)
Learning to accept losses as part of the game and cutting them short is the single most important step towards becoming consistently profitable. It sounds simple, but in reality is extremely difficult for everybody. Why? Because we’ve been taught that giving up is for losers and we should fight till last breath. I certainly agree that you should not give up quickly, but only if you can influence the end result. Let me be clear, the stock doesn’t know that you own it and it doesn’t care that you cannot afford to lose the money. The market will strip your last cloth if you don’t know how to manage risk. You have to understand and accept your power. You cannot move the market. You cannot tell him where to go and how fast. This is why so many people, who are successful as entrepreneurs and engineers, have troubles breaking even in the capital markets. It takes a special kind of person. Someone, who can forget his ego and concentrate on what actually works. Very few people are able to reach that level and to distinguish their trading life from their personal life.
Trading or investing is a skill that can be learned. There are two ways to learn a new skill in general. Through the school of hard knocks and through the mentorship of others that have the gift of teaching. To become a successful trader, you need to somehow implement both approaches. Nothing can replace personal experience. You can hire the best mentors in the world to teach you and purchase the most expensive equipment and trading software, but this is not going to help you to build a new skill. Skill building is subdued to eternal physical laws. There are a hundred billion neurons in your brain. For every skill that you possess (speaking a language or driving a car), there is a certain combination of connections between some of your neurons. To build a new skill, you need to build a new net of connections. This is why every beginning is hard, this is why big changes do not happen overnight. You have to establish new connections, which takes hard work via repetition and visualization. (more…)