Becoming a trader is not a journey for the faint of heart. Becoming a successful trader is ultimately an act of determination. Not unlike the character of the John Wick trilogy (Quadrology? Pentology?), we traders have to be “a man of focus, commitment, sheer will.” We have to get up early, stay up late, follow a routine, back test, journal, rinse, and… repeat… and repeat… and REPEAT.
Focus. Commitment. Sheer will.
Ultimately, the journey of becoming a successful trader is a process of elimination, not much unlike Michelangelo sculpting his great masterpiece, Reportedly, someone asked the artist how he made such a magnificent sculpture from the hulking slab of what was a previously abandoned project – literally a ‘leftover’ piece of marble. His reply was “Simple… I just chipped away all the parts that weren’t David.”
Likewise, the successful trader we want to be is inside us… we just have to chip away all the pieces that are “UN-traderlike”.
Early in my trading journey I had several friends, who career-wise, were in “high places”, who tried to convince me that the road I was about to travel was a pathway to failure. Their universal theme: “Trading is a path doomed for failure. It’s legalized Gambling! Nobody makes money trading.”
Well, kiwis, just watch the news… somebody is making money in the markets, and the secret to success is to do what successful people do. My motto: “Do what successful people do, get what successful people got.” Just because you are a successful accountant, a successful investor, a successful nuclear engineer, it doesn’t make you a successful trader, and it’s hard to take advice from someone who you respect, but has no experience in the field they are pontificating on, saying, “you can’t make money doing ‘X’ ” if they themselves have never done it.
I’m not going to listen to my brother for financial advice… he’s broke.
I’m not going to listen to my uncle for marriage advice… he’s been divorced 3 times.
I’m not going to listen to my brother-in-law for business advice… he’s started and shut down 5 businesses in 5 years.
Likewise, I wasn’t about to listen to anyone, friends and family included, who have never traded tell me that I can’t become a successful trader.
It is said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If we want to become successful at trading, we have to associate with successful traders… and we have to simply do what they did to get what they’ve got. We not only need to take on certain new behaviors and attitudes… more importantly we have to stop doing certain activities and stop believing certain things to start heading in the direction we want to go in our trading, or any aspect of our lives for that matter. These are the things that are preventing us from being successful. We have to take away all the “bits that aren’t trader-like” and become the magnificent trader we are destined to be.
This is a simple process of elimination.
Elimination Point 1: Eliminate or limit relationships that do not support you and your goals.
I had to ‘eliminate’ or limit some relationships (as mentioned above, people who never traded before trying to tell me that “nobody makes money trading”), and establish new relationships (those among the trading community who are successful at trading) and follow in the footsteps of the successful. One of my mottos as I alluded to before is: “If you do what successful people do… you will get what successful people got.”
Why spend time with or take advice from someone with literally zero experience in a field they feel qualified to pontificate about?) Just look at all your FaceBook “friends” who think they’re qualified to give advice on immunology, virology, or geopolitics of the Middle East. Turn that noise off…
Elimination Point 2: Eliminate or limit activities that do not move you forward in your goals.
Every day we need to focus on whittling away bad habits and building on good habits… Every day we need to build our trading psychology from “I hope I can trade full time someday” to “By doing what these successful traders are doing I will get what I deserve after my consistent efforts in short order!” We need to change our commitment level from “I’ll find time to fit in learning how to trade when I can” to “I’m committing the time to develop this skill in order to never be dependent on an employer, customers, on the economy, ever again!”
Elimination Point 3: Eliminate all education channels but one: Become an education minimalist.
One of the blessings of the internet today is the plethora of information available about trading. One of the curses however is you can easily find yourself “spinning plates” jumping from guru to guru, watching video after video, following technique after technique and six months later after spending hour after hour doing all that you find you are no farther ahead in your trading journey than when you started. (I speak from personal experience!) I one day decided to simplify: simply look at the trading styles of all my favorite traders and choose one single trading method which I thought would be the best fit for me. My goal was to turn my light bulb into a laser.
IE: a 5-watt light bulb will barely keep a muffin warm. A 5-watt laser will cut through steel. If you focus all of your energy and efforts into one spot, you can literally burn through the barriers that have been holding you back from becoming the trader you want to be, the trader that you need to be.
What one technique do you know, which one mentor or trader do you respect, which one timeframe can you focus on, what one market will you trade over and over until you have the win rate you need to take your trading full time?
Elimination Point 4: Excuses. Eliminate them!
It has been said that “Excuses are reasons wrapped up in a lie.” We can all justify, give a ‘reason’ for why we can’t wake up early, why we can’t stay up late, why we can’t carve out 90 minutes per day to develop our skill, why we can’t commit that first $10K in capital, why we can’t join that trading group…
You can make Money, or you can make excuses. You can’t do both.
We don’t have the time to do everything in the world that we want. But we do have the time to do everything that we need to do that is important. If you “don’t have time” to trade or develop your skill to the next level then it’s just not “important” enough. If you really want to be a successful trader, (the great) it has to be important enough that it will usurp the time previously committed (or squandered) on other activities (the good).
Take 30 minutes to look at what people, activities, excuses, you need to eliminate or limit, and what habits, routines, and relationships you will add or magnify in your life. Then put those items on the calendar and as the most successful ad campaign in history commands, “Just Do It!”