- When we don’t set realistic trading goals, it can be impossible to ever feel a sense of success in the market
- A reasonable objective is crucial – tripling accounts over a short period or outperform top hedge funds isn’t
- Flexibility in objectives accounts for our trading style and market changes with allowances for improvement
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Few traders set out clear and reasonable goals for their trading. How can you gauge the success of your efforts if there is no milestone to work towards? Without that goalpost, the assessment of our own performance is made flippantly. Those naturally critical of themselves are predisposed to look back on their trading through the week/month/quarter/year as sub-par – regardless of what it may be. It is understandably difficult to proceed and evolve under the perception that we are always falling short. Alternatively, the eternal optimist will see their trading as great without that tangible mile marker and naturally feels little reason to improve.
Writing down an objective and working towards it has a powerful effect to our sense of grounding and ownership. Yet, unless it is a realistic target; we can trade some of the problems born of an untethered outlook with new ones that can derive from an unrealistic outlook. For the ambitious that are new to trading, the natural assumption is that their performance should match the top hedge fund managers in the market. After a few trades and understanding of the resources they have at their disposal (namely leverage), that confidence is leveraged to a target that can be multiples of the market’s top performing benchmarks and participants. When we consider this objectively, it is clearly unrealistic. A reasonable percentage return and/or a certain ratio of winning trades should be set according to our activity level, experience and other practical aspects.
Furthermore, it is important to be flexible with our performance metrics. While the scalper may set an objective of 5 percent return in a week, that would seem far-fetched to the swing trader that may only take a single trade in that same period. There are further natural tide changes in underlying market conditions. Over the past three months volatility has all but collapsed. That has translated into smaller price swings and the throttling of most promising trends. With a goal to work towards over time, we can adjust as time and circumstance unfolds. At the end of our review period, we can assess objectively what went wrong and what went right. With thought put into the processes, we can identify whether the target was off-base or whether if there is an aspect to the strategy that needs to be tuned. We discuss the importance and general rules for setting targets for our trading in today’s Strategy Video.
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