Step by step…

1. Create a clear, concise method that will serve you to find trading ideas. A method consist of simple to implement consecutive steps based on market anomalies. A method should be derived from your trading goals and it always incorporates in itself money management techniques for capital preservation.

2. Use those trading ideas to create a plan of action.

3. A plan of action usually consists of two or more scenarios. For example if X happens, I will go with trading idea A; if Y happens, I will go with trading idea B. We create different scenarious, because we can’t control the market. We forecast what might happen and plan how we will react if certain event or a process happens.

Having a clear method helps you to be consistent and disciplined in finding new trading ideas. Creating a plan helps you to profit from your trading ideas. It assist you to focus on your goals.

To Do If The Market Doesn't Go Your Way

“Don’t think about what the market’s going to do; you have absolutely no control over that. Think about what you’re going to do if it gets there. In particular, you should spend no time at all thinking about those rosy scenarios in which the market goes your way, since in those situations, there’s nothing more for you to do. Focus instead on those things you want least to happen and on what your response will be.”

Hypothesis of the day

Hypothesis I thought of the other day daydreaming:

A test of lows or highs is similar to how when you break up with a lover you always go back for a second try to probe to see if you made the right decision. Both parties are usually willing (bulls/bears and man/woman or etc/etc. If test falls short, low/high rejection a new trend is formed or new high/low is formed and trend is resumed. If two partners give it a second try either their relationship moves to new deeper levels of intimacy or they split up and look for new partners.

Of course break out failures and failed failures happen, but at least the scenarios can be confined to a limited set of outcomes.

An Ironic Trick for Trading Better

Everyone knows what they /SHOULD/ do… and everyone has trouble doing it. Why? Lots of reasons –

Market ambiguity compels you to make impulsive judgments … . Not enough sleep… . I can go on and on and on… and talk to you about your emotional architectures and using emotion analytics to better manage your risk as well as better deduce opportunity.

But here is a little “emotion analytics” trick –

Ask yourself – as you are contemplating entering or exiting a position “How will I feel if…. ?” … and then play out the scenarios, #1) the trade continues in my direction, #2) it pulls back and takes away some of my money, #3) it ….

By putting yourself into your potential future emotional contexts, you can make better “risk” judgments in the here and now.

(And oh yes, I know to some of you this sounds absurd…that is OK. Everyone that I have taught to do it, makes more money than when they just tried to use so-called discipline to intellectually overpower their desires to get in or out or… in and out … or ….)

3 Mistakes

1) Becoming Overly Focused on P/L During Trading – Watching your profits or losses tick up and down during a trade; becoming anxious about P/L and letting P/L, not a trading plan, dictate when you get out of a trade. It’s a recipe for performance anxiety. By focusing on process goals rather than P/L, you can stay grounded in good trading practices and minimize performance stresses.
2) Trading Much Larger After a Series of Winning Trades – It is common that traders become overconfident after a series of wins and decide to increase their risk by a factor of two or more. This often leads to large losing trades that wipe out much of the profit, generating frustation and discouragement. Just as it doesn’t make sense to plow into a trade after a large move has already occurred, it doesn’t make sense to plow into risk after a series of profitable trades.
3) Failing to Learn From Losing Trades – Traders often want to put losses behind them and not dwell on negatives. The downside is that they don’t learn from their losses and thus miss opportunities to understand what’s happening in markets and what they might be doing wrong. This is especially important following a series of losing trades: either you’re not seeing the markets well, or you’re not acting well on your perceptions. Both scenarios offer learning opportunities that can help generate profits down the line.
It’s common to think of trading as a stressful occupation, but much of the stress is self-generated. By staying focused on “best practices” in trading, we minimize fear and frustration and build confidence in our development.

Wisdom From Bruce Kovner

On trading ranges and price patterns:


…as a trader who has seen a great deal and been in a lot of markets, there is nothing disconcerting to me about a price move out of a trading range that nobody understands.
…Tight congestions in which a breakout occurs for reasons that nobody understands are usually good risk/reward trades.
…The more a price pattern is observed by speculators, the more prone you are to have false signals. The more a market is the product of nonspeculative activity, the greater the significance of technical breakouts.
…The general rule is: the less observed, the better the trade.

On predetermined risk points:

Whenever I enter a position, I have a predetermined stop. That is the only way I can sleep. I know where I’m getting out before I get in. The position size on a trade is determined by the stop, and the stop is determined on a technical basis… I always put my stop behind some technical barrier.”
I never think about [stop vulnerability], because the point about a technical barrier — and I’ve studied the technical aspects of the market for a long time — is that the market shouldn’t go there if you are right. (more…)

When To Quit

Whether you are following your own trading system, or following an advisory, newsletter or some other service, if you don’t have an exit plan for discontinuing it, you should.

Why? Studies have shown that when people are under stress, many times they make poor decisions. Certainly if you were losing money with your systems you would be stressed. Consequently, you might make a knee jerk reaction to the losses, or you may stick your head in the sand and avoid a decision all together. Both scenarios can be dangerous. So, the time when you are losing is a bad time to determine when to exit.

Ideally, you already determined when to stop trading when you first decided to trade the system. If not, it is not too late. Just determine the metric(s) that are most important to you. They could include such things as:

• Maximum drawdown

• Consecutive losers in a row

• Amount lost in a week/month/year

• Overall profit after X months

• Overall winning percentage dips below XX %

• Significant break in your personal equity trendline, or equity moving average

• New highs, or breaking of another “good” metric (yes, some people try to quit at the top)

• Anything that can be measured and monitored

The exact condition you select probably is not as important as writing it down and sticking to it. That is the key. It needs to be solid, definitive and written down. Ideally, you’ll also tell your spouse or a friend, too, since it is harder to back out when you make the proclamation public. 

I’ve heard that one money management firm’s exit criteria is 1.5 times the maximum drawdown, and a 24 month commitment. Those aren’t bad, but the best one is the one that you feel comfortable with – one you can stick with.

You’ll definitely worry less about your system’s performance if you write down and follow your exit plan – today!

There is a Difference Between What People Say and What They Think

For many, there is a difference between how you think you will act in certain conditions and how you actually act when the time comes. The term used to describe this condition is called empathy gap.

There are two basic scenarios in which empathy gap can impact your performance as a trader/investor:

– you don’t cut your losses when they hit your pre-established exit level. This is the single biggest reason, so many people struggle in the capital markets. One solution to the issue is to enter exit orders, immediately after you initiate an opening order (caution: it does not work with illiquid names, where market makers can easily shake you out);
– you don’t take the signals from your watchlist when they are triggered. Some stocks can really move fast after they pass their tipping point. When that happens, many traders feel like a deer in headlights and are not willing to pay the market price. They’ll put a limit order, hoping that the desired stock will come back and their order will be filled. The best stocks don’t come back. Don’t be afraid to pay the market price for proper breakouts.

In today’s information overloaded world, evidence suggests that 95 per cent of our decisions are made without rational thought. So consciously asking people how they will behave unconsciously is at best naïve and, at worst, can be disastrous for a business. (more…)

3 Steps to Controlling Emotions and Gaining Trading Discipline

1. Know what you are going to do before you do it.

A Master Chess Player is at least 6 moves ahead of his opponent at every step in the game of Chess. A Master Trader identifies the market participants in that stock at that moment, determines when the next level of market participants will buy, decides a specific price for entry, and has one or more exit strategies planned for that stock trade before he ever places an order. In other words: he knows what he is going to do before he initiates the trade and has all of his various strategies worked out for all the different scenarios that can happen to that trade. He is prepared for all situations and ready to trade.

2. Develop your own unique Trading Style.

Too often traders simply follow the crowd. Instead you should develop your own unique trading style. A trading style is not a strategy. It is a set of parameters or rules that you adhere to strictly, ignoring rare anomalies that occur in your trading from time to time that go against your rules. Your trading style should also ignore gimmicks, fads, and ‘hot new strategies’ that are constantly being promoted to crowd traders. If you establish a set of parameters for your trading, write those rules down, and follow them while ignoring the crowd mentality of most small retail traders, you will begin to establish strong emotional control in your trading decisions. The trick is writing the parameters down and then sticking to those rules. Emotions want traders to ignore rules.

3. Ignore the Money.

Don’t trade for the money. Trade because you can’t imagine doing anything else. Trade because it is the most enjoyable and rewarding profession you can do. You can have a passion for studying charts without letting passion rule your decisions. Highly successful people, in any career, do not do their job because of the money, they do it because they love what they are doing and can’t imagine doing anything else. The money is secondary to doing the job that gives them purpose and self-esteem. Money is not the ultimate motivator, purpose and self-esteem are.

10 ways to Master the Trade

How do you know you’re making progress on the road to successful trading? There’s one obvious answer: Check your financial  results. There is little doubt you’re doing well if you’re booking consistent profits. Thump

 But raw capital production may not be the best way to judge your growth as a trader. The road to success has many detours  where profitability isn’t the best measure of results. For example, we all go through phases in which introspection and skill  development are more urgent than short-term profits. So let’s look at 10 ways to know you’re making solid progress on the road  to market mastery: 

 1. Money management becomes your lifeline, and all your trading strategies start to revolve around its core. Risk control  becomes a key aspect of every position you take. You accept that controlling losses has a far-greater impact on your bottom line  than chasing gains. 

 2. You develop your own trading plans and strategies rather than relying on books, gurus or other people’s opinions. You notice  how you’re finding more opportunities than you have time to trade while looking through your charts. You look forward to the  trading day with a growing sense of confidence and empowerment. 

 3. You feel more like a student than a master. You learn new things every day and can’t wait to apply them to real-life trading  scenarios. You listen closely to everything you hear, trying to pick up hints and concepts that will improve your performance. You expand your studies into everything market-related, including economics, fundamentals and balance sheets. 

 4. You stop visiting stock boards and chatrooms, because they don’t add anything to your trading goals. You realize that  everyone in those places has ulterior motives. You develop a healthy skepticism about companies, market-makers and even  other traders. You realize that no one is really interested in your success as a trader, except for you.  (more…)

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