Could This Be The "Huge Winning Trade" You've Been Dreaming Of?

Part 3 in the Mental Fitness for Traders Series
by Norman Hallett, former CTA/Trader

It's why we all signed up for the battle against the markets. In the beginning, we read an article or saw a sales leaflet about a guy who took his last few dollars and parlayed it into millions in the futures markets. It usually involved a simple secret that when revealed to you (for a few hundred dollars), you could have the same success. Most of the time, we would chuck the article/leaflet into the trash as garbage, but at some low ebb in our psyche, the article read like the answer to our prayers. Most of us joined the fray for the "big hit".

Whether we 1-2-3-counted with Ken Roberts, waved with Prechter, or seasoned with Bernstein, we all soon realized that if we were going to stay in the game, we needed something more than desire and a dream… we needed a back-tested system that we could have confidence in. We realized that we needed to take our emotions out of trading and look at trading like a professional… like a job. That doesn't mean we can't have fun, because winning traders enjoy their jobs like no others. So, we either adopted a guru, inspected his archives of trades (that's back-testing, right?) and watched him/her live for a while before jumping in, or we bought software to test a system we thought could work.

Our system in hand, we saddle up to the computer. We have stops to defend against losing too much in one trade and we have limits to make sure we take our profits when our system tells us to. After a mix of trades over the first few weeks, we hit on a big one. The news confirms that we are geniuses and we are quickly heading to our profit target. In fact, we're just ticks away. Hey, this heat wave is bigger than anyone expected. There's no way beans are not going to the teens! "I'll lift my limit and keep my eye on it." Market closes a 5 cents above the (former) profit target. "I'm getting good at this. I'm really developing a market 'sense'."

You decide you'll put a stop right at your (former) profit target, so that if the market backs off, you'll take your profit where you were going to anyway. (OK, reader, you know what's coming). Rain in the plains overnight. Soybeans open 26 lower. Stopped out. Your genius turned a nice winner into a nice loser. What happened? The same thing that happened when you read that original ad that got you involved in all of this… You let your emotions take over.

If you're still trading after a few years, it either means you have very deep pockets or you've learned to control your emotions and take every profit your system tells you to. You're going to need them to overcome all the losses… and become the winner you know you can be.

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