Most traders understand that trading can be influenced by their emotions. To stay calm and directed throughout the trading day, professionals use well-recognized techniques to keep calm and make decisions based on reason, not their gut.
Here are 10 tips from the pros to manage your emotions while trading:
- Don’t act on anger. When you’re angry, hold out, wait until reason takes hold. There is no worse trade than a “revenge” trade, in which a trader follows up a loss by jumping right back in to recoup. Consult your trading journal to get back on track.
- Don’t marry your positions. It’s easy for a trader to get stubborn, and to hold on to a trade just because he ‘hopes’ it will turn around. Close down a bad trade as soon as possible, take your loss and move on. Your trading journal will suggest the next move.
- Follow each trade with a break. Trading goes on at a rapid pace, so don’t get caught up in the action. Take a moment to think about something else, and then come back and deliberate. Now look at your trading journal to get the next idea.
- Set a fixed point at which you stop. After three, four, five or whatever number you choose, stop for a good long break. It’s when one trade follows another that most mistakes happen. Consult your trading journal and review your strategy.
- Don’t keep track of profit and loss. Doing the math on your earnings will only get your emotions working. Concentrate on your trading strategy, and review your trading journal to develop it. Then, at the end of the trading day, you can check out how well or poorly you did.
- Keep your mind on the plan. Don’t let the results of a few trades change your overall strategy and approach. Stick to what you have learned and what you have planned – use your trading journal to develop your next moves.
- Don’t confuse prudence with fear. You want to trade prudently, using logic and reason. This may make you hold off on a trade. But make sure that prudence, and not fear, is behind your decision. Fear can wreck your trading by keeping you from making a trade. Use your trading journal to see if the trade makes sense, follows previous wins, or if the trade just doesn’t make sense.
- Watch out for greed. Greed can make you stay in a trade when you had planned to exit, hoping to milk it for a little more profit. Such trades risk turning out badly, just when you thought you were winning. Use your trading journal to judge the best exit points based on past behavior.
- Manage your stops carefully. A cautious approach to stops and limits will keep you from making rash decisions. It hurts to get a trade stopped out, but over time you will save money on losses. Your trading journal can give you useful comparisons on levels for stops.
- Don’t give up. There comes a point in every trader’s life when it just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Don’t let yourself be intimidated. Trading is tough, but you can win.
In each case we discuss here, the trading journal is our best friend. No trader should be without one. Especially when that bad feeling takes over, the trading journal will remind you of all the things you’ve done well.