“Ninety-five percent of the trading errors you are likely to make—causing the money to just evaporate before your eyes—will stem from your attitudes about being wrong, losing money, missing out, and leaving money on the table. What I call the four primary trading fears.” -Mark Douglas (Trading int he Zone)
As Mark Douglas points out in his great book about trading psychology is that the majority of traders lose because of wrong thinking, misplaced emotions, and wanting to be right. We know fear and greed drive the market prices far more than fundamentals do. However fear makes traders do the wrong things at the wrong time. Here are four great examples of fear over ruling sound trading strategies.
Here are more thoughts about these four fears:
The fear of being wrong: Traders fear being wrong so much they will hold a small loss until it becomes a huge loss. Even adding to the loss in the hopes of it coming back and getting to even. Don’t do this, holding on to a loser after it hits your predetermined stop loss is like being a reverse trend trader. Do not be afraid of being wrong small be afraid of being wrong BIG.
The fear of losing money: New traders hate to lose money, they do not quite understand yet that they will lose 40%-60% of the time in the long term. We should come to expect the small losses and wait for the big wins patiently. Many times traders fear this so much that they have a hard time taking an entry out of fear of losing. If you can’t handle the losses as part of the business, you can’t trade.
The fear of missing out: The opposite of the fear of losing money is the fear of losing potential profits. This causes traders to watch a stock go up and up, miss the primary trend, then not being able to take it any more and get in late just in time for the trend to reverse and lose money. Trade at your systems proper entry point do not chase a stock because you are afraid to miss out on some profits.
The fear of leaving money on the table: When your trailing stop is hit get out of the trade. If your rules tell you to get out after a parabolic run up and stall then exit. You must be disciplined on taking money off the table while it is there. Being greedy for that last few dollars when your system says to sell could lead to major losses of paper profits. Let your winners run but when the runner gets to tired to continue: bank your profits.