StockFetcher Forums · General Discussion · The 5 Steps to becoming a trader<< >>Post Follow-up
6,362 posts
msg #73029
Ignore TheRumpledOne
3/23/2009 3:48:06 PM

I found this while surfing - I didn't write it!!

The 5 Steps to becoming a trader

This is an article I ran across a little while ago and I would like to post it here for you to read because I found it describe the journey of a trader very accurately. Unfortunately somewhere between this blog and where I found the article I lost the name of the author. I would really like to give them credit and link to their site so if anyone knows the author and their site I would love to add it here.

The 5 Steps to becoming a trader

Step One: Unconscious Incompetence.

This is the first step you take when starting to look into trading. you know that its a good way of making money because you've heard so many things about it and heard of so many millionaires. Unfortunately, just like when you first desire to drive a car you think it will be easy - after all, how hard can it be? Price either moves up or down - what's the big secret to that then - let's get cracking!

Unfortunately, just as when you first take your place in front of a steering wheel you find very quickly that you haven't got the first clue about what you're trying to do. You take lots of trades and lots of risks. When you enter a trade it turns against you so you reverse and it turns again… and again, and again.

You may have initial success, and that's even worse - because it tells your brain that this really is simple and you start to risk more money.

You try to turn around your losses by doubling up every time you trade. Sometimes you'll get away with it but more often than not you will come away scathed and bruised You are totally oblivious to your incompetence at trading.

This step can last for a week or two of trading but the market is usually swift and you move onto the next stage.

Step Two - Conscious Incompetence

Step two is where you realize that there is more work involved in trading and that you might actually have to work a few things out. You consciously realize that you are an incompetent trader - you don't have the skills or the insight to turn a regular profit.

You now set about buying systems and e-books galore, read websites based everywhere from USA to the Ukraine. and begin your search for the holy grail. During this time you will be a system nomad - you will flick from method to method day by day and week by week never sticking with one long enough to actually see if it does work. Every time you come upon a new indicator you'll be ecstatic that this is the one that will make all the difference.

You will test out automated systems on Metatrader, you'll play with moving averages, Fibonacci lines, support & resistance, Pivots, Fractals, Divergence, DMI, ADX, and a hundred other things all in the vein hope that your 'magic system' starts today. You'll be a top and bottom picker, trying to find the exact point of reversal with your indicators and you'll find yourself chasing losing trades and even adding to them because you are so sure you are right.

You'll go into the live chat room and see other traders making pips and you want to know why it's not you - you'll ask a million questions, some of which are so dumb that looking back you feel a bit silly. You'll then reach the point where you think all the ones who are calling pips after pips are liars - they can't be making that amount because you've studied and you don't make that, you know as much as they do and they must be lying. But they're in there day after day and their account just grows whilst yours falls.

You will be like a teenager - the traders that make money will freely give you advice but you're stubborn and think that you know best - you take no notice and overtrade your account even though everyone says you are mad to - but you know better. You'll consider following the calls that others make but even then it won't work so you try paying for signals from someone else - they don't work for you either.

You might even approach a 'guru' like Rob Booker or someone on a chat board who promises to make you into a trader(usually for a fee of course). Whether the guru is good or not you won't win because there is no replacement for screen time and you still think you know best.

This step can last ages and ages - in fact in reality talking with other traders as well as personal experience confirms that it can easily last well over a year and more nearer 3 years. This is also the step when you are most likely to give up through sheer frustration.

Around 60% of new traders die out in the first 3 months - they give up and this is good - think about it - if trading was easy we would all be millionaires. another 20% keep going for a year and then in desperation take risks guaranteed to blow their account which of course it does.

What may surprise you is that of the remaining 20% all of them will last around 3 years - and they will think they are safe in the water - but even at 3 years only a further 5-10% will continue and go on to actually make money consistently.

By the way - they are real figures, not just some I've picked out of my head - so when you get to 3 years in the game don't think its plain sailing from there.

Iv had many people argue with me about these timescales - funny enough none of them have been trading for more than 3 years - if you think you know better then ask on a board for someone who's been trading 5 years and ask them how long it takes to become fully 100% proficient. Sure i guess there will be exceptions to the rule - but i haven't met any yet.

Eventually you do begin to come out of this phase. You've probably committed more time and money than you ever thought you would, lost 2 or 3 loaded accounts and all but given up maybe 3 or 4 times but now its in your blood

One day - in a split second moment you will enter stage 3.

Step 3 - The Eureka Moment

Towards the end of stage two you begin to realize that it's not the system that is making the difference. You realize that its actually possible to make money with a simple moving average and nothing else IF you can get your head and money management right You start to read books on the psychology of trading and identify with the characters portrayed in those books and finally comes the eureka moment.

The eureka moment causes a new connection to be made in your brain. You suddenly realize that neither you, nor anyone else can accurately predict what the market will do in the next ten seconds, never mind the next 20 minutes.

Because of this revelation you stop taking any notice of what anyone thinks - what this news item will do, and what that event will do to the markets. You become an individual with your own method of trading

You start to work just one system that you mold to your own way of trading, you're starting to get happy and you define your risk threshold.

You start to take every trade that your 'edge' shows has a good probability of winning with. When the trade turns bad you don't get angry or even because you know in your head that as you couldn't possibly predict it isn't your fault - as soon as you realize that the trade is bad you close it . The next trade or the one after it or the one after that will have higher odds of success because you know your system works.

You stop looking at trading results from a trade-to-trade perspective and start to look at weekly figures knowing that one bad trade does not a poor system make.

You have realized in an instant that the trading game is about one thing - consistency of your 'edge' and your discipline to take all the trades no matter what as you know the probabilities stack in your favor.

You learn about proper money management and leverage - risk of account etc etc - and this time it actually soaks in and you think back to those who advised the same thing a year ago with a smile. You weren't ready then, but you are now. The eureka moment came the moment that you truly accepted that you cannot predict the market.

Step 4 - Conscious Competence

You are making trades whenever your system tells you to. You take losses just as easily as you take wins You now let your winners run to their conclusion fully accepting the risk and knowing that your system makes more money than it loses and when you're on a loser you close it swiftly with little pain to your account

You are now at a point where you break even most of the time - day in day out, you will have weeks where you make 100 pips and weeks where you lose 100 pips - generally you are breaking even and not losing money. You are now conscious of the fact that you are making calls that are generally good and you are getting respect from other traders as you chat the day away. You still have to work at it and think about your trades but as this continues you begin to make more money than you lose consistently.

You'll start the day on a 20 pip win, take a 35 pip loss and have no feelings that you've given those pips back because you know that it will come back again. You will now begin to make consistent pips week in and week out 25 pips one week, 50 the next and so on.

This lasts about 6 months

Step Five - Unconscious Competence

Now we're cooking - just like driving a car, every day you get in your seat and trade - you do everything now on an unconscious level. You are running on autopilot. You start to pick the really big trades and getting 200 pips in a day doesn't make you any more excited that getting 1 pip.

You see the newbie's in the forum shouting 'go dollar go' as if they are urging on a horse to win in the grand national and you see yourself - but many years ago now.

This is trading utopia - you have mastered your emotions and you are now a trader with a rapidly growing account.

You're a star in the trading chat room and people listen to what you say. You recognize yourself in their questions from about two years ago. You pass on your advice but you know most of it is futile because they're teenagers - some of them will get to where you are - some will do it fast and others will be slower - literally dozens and dozens will never get past stage two, but a few will.

Trading is no longer exciting - in fact it's probably boring you to bits - like everything in life when you get good at it or do it for your job - it gets boring - you're doing your job and that's that.

Finally you grow out of the chat rooms and find a few choice people who you converse with about the markets without being influenced at all.

All the time you are honing your methods to extract the maximum profit from the market without increasing risk. Your method of trading doesn't change - it just gets better - you now have what women call 'intuition'

You can now say with your head held high "I'm a currency trader" but to be honest you don't even bother telling anyone - it's a job like any other.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this journey into a traders mind and that hopefully you've identified with some points in here.

Remember that only 5% will actually make it - but the reason for that isn't ability, its staying power and the ability to change your perceptions and paradigms as new information comes available.

The losers are those who wanted to 'get rich quick' but approached the market and within 6 months put on a pair of blinkers so they couldn't see the obvious - a kind of "this is the way i see it and that's that" scenario - refusing to assimilate new information that changes that perception.

I'm happy to tell you that the reason i started trading was because of the 'get rich quick' mindset. Just that now i see it as 'get rich slow'

If you're thinking about giving up i have one piece of advice for you.

Ask yourself the question "how many years would you go to college if you knew for a fact that there was a million dollars a year job at the end of it?

Take care and good trading to you all.

4,689 posts
msg #73041
Ignore Eman93
3/24/2009 12:11:19 AM

Thanks TRO

I am in for one year as a part timer. I am even so far with about 200+ trades. I have really reduced my trade size but I still hate to lose. I still have the horse race emotions. The more I get into it the more juiced up I get.

I am still swayed by others and second guess myself. CNBC has cost me, I had a good set up on SDS and was holding over night on a Thursday......CNBC is crowing about some BS news and how the market was going to rally huge and how the futures were up....SDS starts to dive hard in the premarket, so I dumped it in the pre market for a stinging loss, only to watch it run the next 3 or 4 days. The sad thing is it would have not hit my stop, if I would have let it play out, I sold it on the very very low........what a sucker. Live and learn and let the market sell it for you, dont jump the gun.

16 posts
msg #73269
Ignore burns1971
4/3/2009 10:24:49 AM

This is an excellent article. It offers clarity of perspective and helps fortify one's determination. I could certainly see myself (my errors, in particular) in the author's examples.

Thank you, TRO.

11,731 posts
msg #73855
Ignore johnpaulca
4/25/2009 5:04:09 PM

Source: Stockscores

Trading decisions are often made in the blink of an eye, the result of a sometimes emotional thought process. Maybe you want to find a stock that will go up to pay for the loss you just suffered on a previous trade or you enter a trade because you are tired of watching it go up without you. These impulse decisions often lead to losses and show why it is important to have a well thought out plan when making a trade.

Planning your trades means you will likely trade less, leaving many marginal opportunities for those that have the best profit potential. When you make a plan you establish a series of criteria for entering and holding a position. You write down those criteria and check to see how your stock is trading relative to your plan. If it is behaving the way you expect then you have understood the stock correctly. If not, it may be better to get out of the position.

The best trades are those that you have the most confidence in. Confidence comes from being proven right, from having the market live up to your expectations. You are probably not too sure of whether you are right or not if you find yourself monitoring your positions every possible moment.

A key to having a good trading plan is to have a good method. You need a good method for entering a stock and managing risk. You need a good method for exiting a stock. You need a good method for managing your emotions through the process. Once you have a method that works and is one you can believe in, you can write the plan. Plan the trade and then trade the plan.

A plan should at least answer the following:

# What is my strategy for entry?
# What is my risk tolerance?
# What do I expect to happen after I enter the trade?
# What has to happen for me to consider my decision to enter the trade wrong?
# What are my criteria for exiting the trade at a profit?
# What are the emotional obstacles that I will face and how will I overcome them?
# How will I judge my success?
# How will I learn from my mistakes?

Is all this worth the effort? The little bit of time that it takes to make and follow a trading plan should improve your performance in the market. Is it worth it to make a plan when building a house? Is it worth it to make a plan when starting a business? Most of us answer yes to these questions but fail to plan our trades. Why?

The answer lies in emotion. Too many traders treat the stock market like a casino. They make trades with the hope that they will make money just like a gambler puts down money on the hope their number will come up. Hope should not be part of your plan. If you are a trader who believes your success in the market is a matter of luck then you should probably close your brokerage account and head to Las Vegas. At least there they give you free drinks when you gamble.

Think when you trade. Impulsive decisions are not likely to succeed. Well thought out trades may not always succeed either but at least you will have a means to judge when you are wrong. When a trade ceases to go according to plan, it is time to get out.

124 posts
msg #73858
Ignore tmanbone
4/25/2009 6:38:31 PM

“Evolution of a Trader”
Author Unknown

1. We accumulate information - buying books, going to seminars and researching.
2. We begin to trade with our ‘new’ knowledge.
3. We consistently ‘donate’ and then realize we may need more knowledge or information.
4. We accumulate more information.
5. We switch the markets we are currently following.
6. We go back into the market and trade with our ‘updated’ knowledge.
7. We get ‘beat up’ again and begin to lose some of our confidence. Fear starts setting in.
8. We start to listen to ‘outside news’ and to other traders.
9. We go back into the market and continue to ‘donate’.
10. We switch markets again.
11. We search for more information.
12. We go back into the market and start to see a little progress.
13. We get ‘over-confident’ and the market humbles us.
14. We start to understand that trading successfully is going to take more time and more knowledge than we anticipated.


15. We get serious and start concentrating on learning a ‘real’ methodology.
16. We trade our methodology with some success, but realize that something is missing.
17. We begin to understand the need for having rules to apply our methodology.
18. We take a sabbatical from trading to develop and research our trading rules.
19. We start trading again, this time with rules and find some success, but over all we still hesitate when it comes time to execute.
20. We add, subtract and modify rules as we see a need to be more proficient with our rules.
21. We feel we are very close to crossing that threshold of successful trading.
22. We start to take responsibility for our trading results as we understand that our success is in us, not the methodology.
23. We continue to trade and become more proficient with our methodology and our rules.
24. As we trade we still have a tendency to violate our rules and our results are still erratic.
25. We know we are close.
26. We go back and research our rules.
27. We build the confidence in our rules and go back into the market and trade.
28. Our trading results are getting better, but we are still hesitating in executing our rules.
29. We now see the importance of following our rules as we see the results of our trades when we don’t follow the rules.
30. We begin to see that our lack of success is within us (a lack of discipline in following the rules because of some kind of fear) and we begin to work on knowing ourselves better.
31. We continue to trade and the market teaches us more and more about ourselves.
32. We master our methodology and our trading rules.
33. We begin to consistently make money.
34. We get a little over-confident and the market humbles us.
35. We continue to learn our lessons.
36. We stop thinking and allow our rules to trade for us (trading becomes boring, but successful) and our trading account continues to grow as we increase our contract size.
37. We are making more money than we ever dreamed possible.
38. We go on with our lives and accomplish many of the goals we had always dreamed of.

4,689 posts
msg #73860
Ignore Eman93
4/25/2009 6:49:23 PM

I am on step 15..............

I have rules but refuse to trade them....... the battel is internal... I always find an excuse to not enter...
This will be tough to over come but I will.

I knew Friaday that FAZ would run in the last 15 min...... did not jump on, the phone rang so that was my out.

4,689 posts
msg #73861
Ignore Eman93
4/25/2009 7:02:30 PM

It took me 3 years to become a scrach golfer......before that I never picked up a club. I worked extreamly hard at it, but I enjoyed it.

Every thing in life is what you put into short cuts. It took golf to teach me that. I now use that in my everyday life.

I am going to give the younger folks a tip...... I am 41

To win in life all you need to do is out work the other guy, put the effort in that he will not, that is the key to winning.

Now there is a trade off......... I just want a larger reward than what they are paying at work.

749 posts
msg #73864
Ignore miketranz
4/26/2009 9:59:21 AM

To become a better trader,one has to know the difference between perception and reality.Perception is what you believe will happen in the markets.Reality is what's really happening.Perfect example would be,you buy a stock after good news comes out.The stock goes up slightly,then drops like a rock.You stay in it hoping it will come back,after all,good news makes you feel confident.The stock continues to fall,now your buried.This is where most traders get in trouble.Your perception differs from reality.Reality is,your getting buried.It's time to scratch the trade.Take the Ford stock,news comes out the company just lost 1.4 billion dollars.The stock gaps open higher 1 dollar.The stock has been climbing for a month.Perception,the company is in big trouble.Reality,the stock is going straight up.The market's set up in a way,that you buy in confidence,sell in fear.The moral of the story is,trade what you see,not what you believe......

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