A professional trader is not the one who was more trading screens, better equipment or the better indicators. A professional trader is defined by how he approaches his trading mentally and how he manages his trading routine day to day.
Therefore, every amateur trader can easily acquire important traits by following a few principles and changing his approach. The following article walks you through the 6 most common trading principles that make the biggest difference between an amateur and a professional trader.
#1 Distractions and focus
Amateur: Watches YouTube videos, is online at Facebook, chats in Skype or watches TV while trading. The amateur loses focus easily and does multiple things when there is no setup in sight or markets are currently slow. He, therefore, misses trades easily, makes mistakes when calculating his position and when executing trades.
Pro: When the professional trader is trading, he is 100% focused and does nothing else besides watching his charts. He might have a website open to monitor news releases or watch the news ticker on a TV channel (on mute!), but that’s it. The pro knows how important it is to be 100% focused and when there is nothing to do and no trading setup in sight, he turns off his platform, works on his trading skills or just takes the day off.
#2 Wasting screen-time
Amateur: Amateur traders tend to watch charts for hours at a time and randomly flip through timeframes on the hunt for a trade. The myth that screen-time will help a trader become better is still accepted among amateur traders. Watching charts for the sake of it has no value whatsoever if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Pro: The professional trader has a detailed trading plan and knows exactly what he is looking for and when he is going to trade. He does not flip through timeframes, but just waits patiently until the trade comes to him. He does not waste his time by sitting in front of his charts all day long when there is nothing to do. When there is nothing to do, the professional goes back to his trading journal and reviews his past performance to find ways to become better.
#3 Overconfidence after a winning streak
Amateur: The amateur trader believes that after a few winning trades in a row he has acquired superior skills or that his trading strategy is suddenly a money machine and cannot fail anymore. The problem is that after a few winning trades, amateur traders use too much risk and take trades that are too big or violate their trading rules because they ‘can feel’ what will happen next.
It’s not uncommon that after 4 or 5 winning trades, traders lose all their profits on only one trade. Are you guilty of that too?
Pro: The professional trader knows that he is not suddenly a super trader and cannot predict what is going to happen next. A winning streak is normal and will happen time after time; it is just how trading works. A professional trader ALWAYS sticks to his plan, always follows his risk and money management rules and NEVER lets one losing trade wipe out a significant amount of his capital.
#4 Loss of confidence after a losing streak
Amateur: When having a losing streak, the amateur trader loses confidence in his skills and his trading strategy. An amateur trader tends to change his trading strategy when he enters a losing streak or breaks his trading rules because he wants to make up for his losses.
Losing streaks are dangerous for amateur traders because they often lead to even bigger losses when traders try to make up for lost money.
Pro: For the professional trader, winning and losing streaks don’t matter. They are inevitable and will happen over and over again. A professional trader knows that over the long term, his trading strategy will make him money, no matter what. A professional trader sticks to his rules and never loses his mind.
#5 Taking losses personally
Amateur: It is hard to accept that your trade idea was wrong and that you are going to lose money. Especially new and inexperienced traders can’t accept to be wrong and when they see that price is about to hit their stop loss order, they will do one of the following things:
– Setting a stop loss further away to delay the loss
– Adding to a losing position to get out of the loss faster when price turns around
– Taking off the stop loss order completely because eventually, the price will have to turn around
All these tactics will lead to large losses and to margin calls. A trader who is engaging in one of the three mentioned scenarios is as far away from becoming a professional trader as possible.
Pro: The professional trader lives by the following two principles:
– One trade is just one trade and the outcome of one single trade does not matter
– The stop loss order is the price where you fully accept that your trade idea was wrong and where you WANT to exit the market
The professional trader knows that the outcome of one trade is totally irrelevant to his trading career. Whether a single trade is a winner or a loser does not matter because there will be 400, 500 or 800 trades coming soon where he can make money. A professional trader also accepts that a stop loss is the place where his trade is wrong and that he is happy to exit the trade because it is not going to make him money.
#6 Do you need money fast?
Amateur: What is your trading objective? Do you believe that trading is a way to make a lot of money in a short period of time? Research showed that traders who believe that they can get rich quick with trading lose the most amount of money.
Pro: For the professional trader, trading is a regular job. The professional trader does not trade for the excitement or because he wants to make a fortune with a few lucky trades. Trading is not an easy profession and it requires time, hard work and a lot of hustling before you can make money. In the end, being a trader is a job like many other jobs.
Conclusion: Fake it until you make it
To become a professional trader, act like one. Behaving like a professional trader does not require a lot of capital or expensive equipment. You can trade like a professional trader RIGHT now. Analyze your trading behavior and then see how you can make the adjustments to take your trading to the next level.