Think Like A Trader Blog

Friday, 11 August 2017

T-Model Trader Blog 19 - Silly What?

Hello Traders.
We have T-Model trader back with his 19th blog post for Decisive Trading. A great way to sign off the week.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
James Orr

Silly what?
I was 11 years old at the time and playing in a school cricket final. I can’t remember the technical cricket term for the position that I was fielding in when the following took place, however I believe that it begins with the word “silly”, which really explain lots.
The kid batting at the time was smacking us all over the field and in later years he went on to become an elite cricket player at national level. At that age it was obvious to all that he played at an entirely different level to everyone else.
What I do recall is that I would be the bunny in the cross hairs to the batters natural swing and strength from an anatomical perspective of hitting the ball. In my usual dreamy state, I was captivated more by the magnificently beautiful trees gracefully bending to the forces of the wind, than to what I was there to do.
To this day, so many years later, I could have well proven that divine intervention exists given that at the last half second before the need for extensive facial reconstruction was about to begin, I turned my focus back to the game to see a cricket ball moving at supersonic speed honing in on my nose.
I threw my hands up in what only could be called pure survival reactions, caught the ball and the competition champ was back in the sheds. I was mobbed by my fellow team mates (they were all sooooooooo competitive) and we went on to win the final due to that one catch. I was given the player of the game award….yes…for that one significant and game changing catch.
As I was handed my award medal in front of the school at the morning assembly later that week, all I could think about was that I was so close to being hospitalized and breathing through a tube in my neck as I no longer possessed a functional face.
I do recall our team coach rabbiting on about my extraordinary reflexes and what an amazing catch it was. How could I say to them that it was only ever about not dying then and there on a cricket field and nothing to do with winning the game.

The above story popped into mind whilst out and about on one of the several “Traders walks” that I have been having of recent times. Given that I hadn’t thought about that day for what is decades, I was intrigued as to why it was now stuck in my mind.
I was thinking about this story as I began to set up the charts last Friday afternoon for the trading evening ahead. Given my major trading whoopee the previous Friday, I was feeling a heightened sense of alertness to any “I have already switched off for the weekend” sort of mind set. Even so, I was still nervous about just dreaming off like in that game and short circuiting the needed discipline.
As I sat there self-monitoring my trading thoughts, I got wondering as to why this impromptu trading dysfunction had seemingly reemerged again. I thought about the Friday evening “I am having a party in my head” notion and consider it an aspect worthy of note, but certainly not the whole picture. Although my impatience does add to it, I don’t believe that that is the root of this issue either.
So on yet another long ponderous walk I just kept asking the question over and over…. “What triggers this”?
In what feels like a “Six degrees of separation” plot, I believe another part of this riddle has shown up.
On so many occasions now, I have watched a review video the following morning to find that I had just missed out on a trade only moments after I had switched off the computer the previous evening. I try to have a least an hour away from the computer before heading off to bed, otherwise my brain is so wired from the screen concentration and I can’t get to sleep. So depending how I am feeling in the evening, I may only get the first few hours of the market.
It was while watching a review video last week and seeing that I missed a really nice entry by only 10 minutes the previous evening, that I caught a glimpse of my emotional response in action. I felt this really strong sense of “I had missed again”. This is what was most interesting in this respect. It wasn’t an “Oh that was a nice set up”….or the likes….but one of feeling like the ship had sailed without me…..again….and felt like the only kid in the class having not been invited to the party.
It was at this point I realized that in all the time watching the review videos, I have seen repeatedly so many trades that I wasn’t there for. In that quietly tricky way that the unconscious works, I have been stuffing those so called missed trades into my “I will never make it as a trader” cupboard to fester along with the multitude of other reasons that “I will never make it as a trader” that are also in need of dismantling.
However, over the last month I missed out on a few trades due to that annoying biological need called sleep, which in turn it appears is when those haphazard trading gremlins get grumpy and restless.
Yes there is impatience. Yes there is a need to be careful on Friday evenings. There is though, one more potent factor in all this which is that emotional quality of being “left out”.

So I took this new thought out onto the foreshore pathway to give it a good going over within me. Without going into endless detail and leaving you all a sobbing mess with overly emotional tales of woe, this is what I have come to understand in a condensed version.
I was never good at sports with absolutely no hand eye coordination at all, which makes that catch in more amazing. I always felt “left out” in this regard, often watching the game from the sidelines. It isn’t that I wanted to be a sporting star, however at that age, simply just being a part of the whole shebang was important.
This is why that story has popped up. Beyond saving my face, that catch allowed me to be a part of something for a brief moment or so. And it felt good.
So when I see these missed trades, it is that same sense of not being a part of those who are getting them and just reinforces that outsider aspect again. To overcome this sense, then the unconscious patterning will do what it needs to do in order to not feel that way. This patterning will grasp at anything in order to avoid that feeling within. Given that I am trading, then the obvious thing to be doing….. is to be in a trade. The subconscious doesn’t really care about trading plans….it has other priorities to fill.
It just appears that trading is the perfect medium in which to challenge this pattern for me.  
Don’t you just love being human….hahahahaha

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Three Simple Tips to Help With the Trading Psychology and the Trader Mindset

Reading Time - 6 Minutes


Trading psychology is what holds most people back from becoming a successful trader. It is more important than the trading system you use, it is more important than the live room you’re a member of and the ‘guru’ showing you how much money he makes without ever really helping you to advance your own skillset.

Now, there is no way to ‘quick fix’ the psychology issues (although I’m sure the aforementioned ‘gurus’ will assure you they can if you just slip them your credit card number). Unfortunately, we are emotional beings, hardwired with the fight/flight/freeze response and a brain that likes to play it overly cautious. It thinks it’s helping you to survive a wolf attack, and it can’t distinguish the difference between that attack and the fear of losing money (vital for survival) in a trade.

However, there are a few simple ways that can help you along the way, and they’re things that I still use to this day.

So, here are my three top tips for helping improve your Trader Mindset and Psychology when trading.

1 – Cover Your Position

This is incredibly simple, but it is also very effective. When you get into a trade, there’s the open position box to the left of the screen. It flickers between positive and minus, showing you how your trade is doing. The problem with it is that we have a tendency to focus on that little box, rather than the market. The box shows us if we are +7 or +15 or -16 etc. Our minds naturally calculate what that means in a monetary sense and we start thinking about how much we are making or losing.

I’m sure you’ve all had experiences similar to this – Your trade drops down and you are sitting at
+12.7 points. You decide to wait for +15 before you exit. The trade then moves against you and stops you out. Or, let’s say the trade is moving against you and you see on your screen that it reads -3 points. It’s so close to break-even that you decide to wait for the market to get back there so you can exit without losing money. Of course, the market instead moves away and stops you out.

What you are doing is basing a trade off of one thing and one thing only – money. You are no longer using the market (the big thing you’re trading!) to make your decisions. All you are doing is hoping for an outcome. When the market is telling you that +12.7 points is a key level of support and you should exit, you’re thinking about that +15 and just blindly holding for the profit.

It’s really simple to combat. Just cover that portion of your screen. Either extend the window so that it is off of the screen, or else you can even run a strip of masking tape down there to hide it from view. You will notice that without that visual reference, you instead focus on the market and price action, which is exactly what you should be doing.

2 – Stop Checking Your Balance Every Day

Again, this is a simple fix for a common problem. A lot of traders look at their account balance after every trade or every day. This is a problem because again, they start setting themselves targets based completely on ‘hopes and dreams’ rather than the market. Let’s say by Wednesday you have made £770. Your mind suddenly chirps up, ok, just another couple of small trades and I can make £1000. What happens is that whilst on the charts you are no longer waiting for the perfect setup but are instead looking for them and finding reasons to get in so you can make that money.

What happens as a result? You take an imperfect trade which results in a loss. Now you’re properly pi**ed off with yourself, so you attack the market and try and make the money back.

When trading, you should be focusing as much as possible on the market and not the money. There should be no additional reasoning for taking a trade – ‘I want to make more money this week’, or ‘I’ve had a loss this week that I want to clear out’. That type of thinking is a recipe for disaster.

The fix is very easy – stop checking your balance so often! Now, when I log into my broker it brings up a window with my balance displayed. However, it is displayed on the left and the button to launch Pro Real Time is on the right. So, all I do is focus on the right of the screen, hit the button and then close the window.

3 – Realise You’ll Never ‘Make It’ as a Trader

Now we are onto the final point. And don’t baulk at the title, because it isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Most people I speak to and work with have a belief when they come to trading that they will one day ‘become’ a trader. And by that, I mean that all of the emotional responses will disappear. They will have such a clear view of the market that they are able to just log on, pull out money and then go on about their day in a blissful Nirvana.

This is a big problem, because the longer they learn trading and come to understand that they aren’t developing in such a way, the more they start to beat themselves up. They think they should be ‘better’ and when they’re still panicked in a trade it seems like a failure and they believe they’ll never make it.

That is most definitely not the case. The market will always be an arena of uncertainty. You will never be able to win all of your trades. You will still make mistakes as a professional. And the emotional responses will still spark into life when you’re in trades.

The only difference is that as you progress, you learn to deal with it all and mostly ignore it.

Once you accept this and understand it, then learning to trade becomes simply a process of try try and try again, all the while focusing on correcting mistakes and building your discipline.

You think I never want to throw my laptop through my window after a tough week of trading? Of course I do! But I also realise that trading is like riding in a boat, where sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down as you follow the waves. So, I am able to walk away and come back the next day ready to go again and again and again.
Understand that you’ll never ‘make it’ and instead work on repeating a process over and over again no matter how you feel. That is the way to becoming a professional trader.

I hope you’ve all had a great trading week!

James Orr