Yum! The Seasoned Trader Feeds On The New Trader.

Part 7 in the "Mental Fitness for Futures Traders" Series
by Norman Hallett, former CTA/Trader

If you're a new trader, you've got to pay your dues. Seasoned traders know this and that's why we love you so much. Look at your charts, mimic the experts, and buy those expensive trade-recommendation newsletters. Dream your dreams. But PLEASE just keep trading, because as you trade, we'll be on the other side, putting your cash into our pockets.

I'm not kidding.

So the thing is, you don't want to stay a "new trader" for long. What is a "new trader"? A new trader, the way I refer to it here, is either someone who has just begun trading and has yet to make the mistakes of a beginner, OR someone who keeps making the beginner's mistakes over and over again and never learns.

Most traders that I've come across over my 22 years as a trader and CTA(3 years as a "new trader" and 19 years as a "seasoned trader") never got out of the "new trader" category. It's hard to transcend. To some, it's impossible and they wind up walking away blaming the "volatility" or the "institutional traders" for their failure.

OK, here's the key to taking the leap from newbee to successful trader: Your mental discipline. The fact is, the beginner who's done his/her homework before trading is (largely) using the same indicators and techniques that the successful trader is using. The difference is that the successful trader is in control. The "new trader" is not. The beginner is controlled by emotions and fears and has not learned… I mean REALLY learned… that trading the market is a math game. It's an exercise in probability and statistics and you must keep the odds on your side, even if, from time to time, it hurts.

If you've back-tested your system properly… if you've followed your guru's past recommendations carefully… and you're ready to start trading…then you have one job and that is to follow your system like the Ice Man. If, over your chosen period of time, the system is not working, then change the system. Never change your commitment to following your system to the letter once you've decided to trade it.

All this is MUCH easier said than done. Fears and emotions can easily overtake you. We're humans, not machines. You must TRAIN your mind to be disciplined. That's what seasoned traders do. They train their minds because they know that habit patterns are simply neuro-pathways that are etched into your brain and when one identifies a poor trading habit (and you know who you are) all that needs be done is to train your mind to create a new neuro-pathway to replace the old one. It's science, man, just science.

Good trading system and the mental strength to commit to and execute the signals that system gives you is the way of the seasoned trader. Most seasoned traders won't admit it. Why? Yum, yum!

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