Four Common Emotion Pitfalls Traders’ Experience and How to Solve Them

 

Peak performance in trading is frequently hindered because of the emotions a trader feels, and more importantly how their trading behaviors change based on those emotions. I have found that the following four emotional experiences have the greatest, direct impact on a trader’s ability to achieve higher levels of success.

 

1)      Fear of Missing Out

2)      Focusing on the Money and Not the Trade

3)      Losing Objectivity in a Trade

4)      Taking Risk Because you are Up (or down) Money

 Fear of missing out occurs when a trader is more afraid of missing an opportunity than they are of losing money. As a result, traders tend to overtrade in a desperate effort to ensure that they do not miss out on money-making situations. This overtrading can then potentially trigger an undertrading response if the traders experience a “trading injury” such as a big loss along the way. The way to solve this is first to accept the reality that you’re always going to miss out on something, somewhere. The second step is to establish game plans on paper and hold yourself accountable to executing those plans.

 Focusing on the money and not the trade limits performance because the trader quantifies their success based on their profit and loss data. As a result, when he or she is up or down a certain amount of money that they view as significant, they alter their trading behaviors regardless of what the actual, real trading opportunity is that is presented to them. The way to solve this is to quantify your success based on HOW you traded not HOW much you made on the trade. Did you have edge? Was it your pitch? Did you make a high-quality trade?

 

Losing objectivity in a trade occurs because traders develop emotional ties to their previous entry levels. The trader is no longer making trading decisions based on the trade, but rather based on how much they are up or down in the trade. The key to overcoming this is for the trader to continually ask him/herself, “Why am I in this trade?” and “If I was not in this trade right now, would I enter this trade long, short or do nothing?” (more…)

Four Common Emotion Pitfalls Traders’ Experience

Peak performance in trading is frequently hindered because of the emotions a trader feels, and more importantly how their trading behaviors change based on those emotions. I have found that the following four emotional experiences have the greatest, direct impact on a trader’s ability to achieve higher levels of success.

 

1)      Fear of Missing Out

2)      Focusing on the Money and Not the Trade

3)      Losing Objectivity in a Trade

4)      Taking Risk Because you are Up (or down) Money

 

Fear of missing out occurs when a trader is more afraid of missing an opportunity than they are of losing money. As a result, traders tend to overtrade in a desperate effort to ensure that they do not miss out on money-making situations. This overtrading can then potentially trigger an undertrading response if the traders experience a “trading injury” such as a big loss along the way. The way to solve this is first to accept the reality that you’re always going to miss out on something, somewhere. The second step is to establish game plans on paper and hold yourself accountable to executing those plans.

 

Focusing on the money and not the trade limits performance because the trader quantifies their success based on their profit and loss data. As a result, when he or she is up or down a certain amount of money that they view as significant, they alter their trading behaviors regardless of what the actual, real trading opportunity is that is presented to them. The way to solve this is to quantify your success based on HOW you traded not HOW much you made on the trade. Did you have edge? Was it your pitch? Did you make a high-quality trade?

 

Losing objectivity in a trade occurs because traders develop emotional ties to their previous entry levels. The trader is no longer making trading decisions based on the trade, but rather based on how much they are up or down in the trade. The key to overcoming this is for the trader to continually ask him/herself, “Why am I in this trade?” and “If I was not in this trade right now, would I enter this trade long, short or do nothing?”

 

Taking bad risk because you are up or down money

People do not like to lose – especially money. Normal solid risk/reward thinking becomes skewed once a trader is up a large sum of money. They begin to experience something called “mental accounting” and they treat money differently based on how they made money or how quickly they earned it. On the flip side, when traders are down money, they tend to be consumed with trading for revenge and trying to make it back, oftentimes as quickly as they lost it. As a result, they may take “shots” or do the “screw it” trade because they feel helpless. To solve this destructive behavior, the trader should use their trading journal to document their emotional highs and lows and what triggered it so they can be in tune with when they are feeling over-confident or angry/frustrated. Once they recognize these emotions, they should immediately call a time out and step away from the computer or reduce the risk they are taking until they can bring themselves back to center court.

Lessons Learned

“So far in 2009, what are the  the most important thing I had  learned about investing, trading, and/or the markets?”

lessons-learned

  • Success takes longer than expected

  • That you must learn to trade and trust yourself and not to become so dependent on the opinions of others, which ultimately keeps you from becoming the best you can be
  • Keep it simple
  • The very best profit opportunities occur in the midst of extreme emotional sentiment
  • Always think opportunistic verses too bullish or bearish
  • Persistence and dedication to a daily routine is key
  • Developing an edge is the first step for trading successfully. Without that, disciplined trading will only make sure you gradually losing money
  • The market is one unforgiving bitch!
  • It is challenging to find non-correlated markets
  • You have to respect the market even if you think it is under some kind of manipulation
  • Keep your eyes open and powder dry
  • If you fall in love with a stock keep 100 shares and let the rest go
  • I’ve learned to be patient in waiting for my patterns to appear
  • The value of ETFs
  • The importance of finding special situations that will be profitable no matter what the market does
  • Stay away from light volume when the only thing trading is the black boxes
  • The importance of focusing only on one technical setup in order to improve one’s skill set
  • I now think that buy and hold is a serious mistake
  • Think big and think long term
  • Don’t try to predict the markets
  • Don’t be afraid in bear markets, just another opportunity
  • The odds are stacked against the retail investor
  • There’s no such thing as a sure thing
  • The harder I work at it the more likely I am to succeed
  • Conserving one’s capital is vital
  • I know the rules – I just need to notch-up my discipline
  • Smaller entry positions can be helpful
  • Opportunities are everywhere
  • The market is primarily psychologically driven
  • Trade with the trend instead of trying to pick tops and bottoms
  • Know where and when to get out before you get in
  • As Johny Cash put it “You got to walk that lonesome valley, you got walk it by yourself. Nobody else can walk it for you. You got to walk it by yourself.”
  • The difficulty of avoiding over-optimization/curve fitting
  • Overtrading can be, and often is, a recipe for disaster
  • To breathe before executing a trade
  • Trading is not a profession for pessimists
  • Never feel confident even when winning. Humility is a good thing
  • You need to be quick and brutal with the trading decisions
  • It is okay to sit out a potential move – risk management over reward chasing
  • Don’t bet the farm in either direction
  • There is no consistent logic to trading the market
  • Some trades need to be taken when they appear, not just when you are ready
  • There’s no rule that quality stocks must go up
  • Don’t chase any overbought stocks
  • When a sector (like financials) look so hopeless as it did in March there is potential to make a lot of money if things turn around even just a little
  • Hope is a four-letter word and has no place in a trading strategy
  • Patience. It is ok to sit out once in awhile
  • Wait until you have an proven strategy supported by data before trading for keeps
  • Anything can happen. Trading is all about probabilities

  • Technically Yours-ANIRUDH SETHI ,BARODA ,INDIA

 

Trading Lessons From Nicolas Darvas

Nicolas DarvasNicolas Darvas has inspired traders for many generations. His book, “How I Made 2,000,000 in the Stock Market” is one that you’ll find on many recommended reading lists including my own. While some have argued that much of Darvas’ success had to do with lucky timing, his books are still widely read and for good reason.

A lot of traders can identify easily with Darvas because he went through the process of learning how to trade much like most people do today. Darvas began by first looking for the “secret” to the market. And, just like all of us have found, after finding no success from trading on the stock tips of others including brokers and expensive newsletters, Darvas figured out that he ultimately had to develop a trading system on his own. He accomplished that feat by committing himself to years of study of the market and from learning from his own mistakes. His determination, perseverance, and constant self-evaluation offers an excellent model for all traders to follow.

In continuing a series of posts where I share my notes I’ve taken (and refer to from time to time) after reading the books and methods of others, here are some things you may find of interest about Nicolas Darvas and his approach:

Trading Lessons From Nicolas Darvas:

  • There are no good or bad stocks. There are only stocks that rise in price and stocks that decline in price, and that price is based on the laws of supply and demand in the marketplace
  • “You can never go broke taking a profit” is bad advice that will result in overtrading and cutting winners short. Selling winners and holding losers is to be avoided at all times (more…)

The Seven Mistakes Novie Traders Make

mistakes7

MISTAKE ONE
Lack of Knowledge and No Plan

It amazes us that some people expect to trade the stock market successfully without any effort. Yet if they want to take up golf, for example, they will happily take some lessons or at least read a book before heading out onto the course. (more…)

Trading Lessons From Nicolas Darvas

  • There are no good or bad stocks. There are only stocks that rise in price and stocks that decline in price, and that price is based on the laws of supply and demand in the marketplace
  • “You can never go broke taking a profit” is bad advice that will result in overtrading and cutting winners short. Selling winners and holding losers is to be avoided at all times
  • There is a “follow-the-leader” style in the market. You will find success by selecting the most active and strongest industry group and trading its top leader
  • The combination of price and increased volume is key to stock selection. Focus your time on new leaders emerging with a new market cycle
  • It is the anticipation of growth rather than the growth itself that leads to great profits in growth stocks. “You have to find out what the public wants and go along with it. You can’t fight the tape, or the public.”
  • One of the quickest ways to lose money in the market is to listen to others and all of their so-called expert opinions. To succeed, you must ignore all outside opinions and predictions. Follow your own strategy!
  • Losses are tuition on Wall Street. Learn from them.
  • You should expect to be wrong half of the time. Your goal is to lose as little as possible when you are. “I have no ego in the stock market. If I make a mistake I admit it immediately and get out fast. If you could play roulette with the assurance that whenever you bet $100 you could get out for $98 if you lost your bet, wouldn’t you call that good odds?”
  • Most of your big failures will come from three things: 1) when you abandon your rules, 2) you become overconfident, and 3) trade in despair when unsuccessful
  • The best speculators search only for the very best opportunities. To be truly successful, you must wait for the right opportunities to present themselves and this often means doing nothing for long periods of time
  • The market behaves the way it does due to participants behaving the way they do. No one knows what they will do until they actually do it
  • Long-term investors are the real gamblers in the market due to their eternal hope that losing stocks will come back in price
  • It is difficult to be profitable on the short side of the market versus the long side – trading in rising or bull markets will give you the best chance for success
  • Most, if not all stocks, will follow the general trend of the market
  • To train your emotions, write down the reasons for making every trade. When you lose, write down what you thought contributed to the loss. Then study and set new rules to avoid making those same mistakes
  • Concentrate your trades. At the peak of his success, Darvas would hold only 5 to 8 stocks at one time which was in contrast to his earlier days when he was overtrading and would hold up to 30 stocks at a time
  • Avoid fallen leaders. Overhead resistance will keep upside potential limited due to supply from previous buyers who had not cut short their losses. According to Darvas, the only sound reason for a stock is one that is rising in price. If that is not happening, then there is “no other reason worth considering.”
  • Darvas used his “box theory” to trade using boxes to time his entries (on breaking out to a new higher box) and exits (breaking below the current trading box).
  • For new trades, Darvas used “pilot buys” which basically were starter positions in stocks he liked. Only if the stock continued to move higher would he then pyramid and increase his position. He learned never to buy more of a losing position
  • He thought many unsuccessful investors made the mistake of looking at the same familiar names that might have worked well for them in the past instead of focusing on the next stock with the right elements for the new market cycle. “I am only in infant industries where earnings could double or triple. The biggest factor in stock prices is the lure of future earnings. The dream of the future is what excites people, not the reality.”
  • Perfection has no role in successful trading. No one can buy at the absolute lowest price and sell at the highest price. No time or effort should be devoted to that goal. “I never bought a stock at the low or sold one at the high in my life. I am satisfied to be along for most of the ride.”
  • Trade only when the environment is in your favor. Darvas’ strategy kept him out of poor and bear markets because he wouldn’t trade stocks that didn’t fit his requirements which were only found in raging bull markets
  • Be aggressive when warranted. Darvas believed in making aggressive trades when his system pointed to a great trade. In fact, sometimes 50% of his capital was devoted to just one stock
  • While his trading approach was very technical, after studying the market’s winners he understood the relevance of finding stocks also with good fundamentals. Namely, Darvas thought that earnings and the future estimate of increased earnings were very important
  • Be a student of the market. Darvas learned by reading more than 200 books about speculators and the market and devoted studying the market for many hours a day. In fact, Gerald Loeb’s books & approach served as key inspiration
  • No one can completely master the market. After millions of dollars and best selling books, Darvas was still learning and tweaking his system until he passed away
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