September 07, 2017
In order to succeed in the long-term in any activity you need to have a plan. In trading, this is called a trading plan. It includes many different aspects of trading, such as your money management, risk management, analysis, and trading system.
Notice that your trading system is just one part of your trading plan, and many traders have a few trading systems for each market condition (i.e. trending, sideways, risk-off environment etc).
Traders who don’t have a trading plan often let their emotions interfere with their strategy, which in turn leads to bad market decisions and losses. With a trading plan, you’ll know exactly how to act in any situation, which will limit costly trading mistakes.
A trading plan also provides you with a complete framework to measure your trading results, so will know what are your weak points and where you need to improve. Without a trading plan, this would be nearly impossible, and you would repeat the same trading mistakes over and over again, and in the end possibly blow your trading account.
How to be Disciplined in Trading
Having a trading plan is the first step to become a profitable trader, but sticking to your plan is the key to success. This is where discipline comes into play. A disciplined trader who sticks to his trading plan will always have a larger survival chance than a newbie who opens positions based on emotions and guesses. This is not called trading, but gambling, and you don’t want to gamble on the forex market. Instead, your goal is to make rational moves and learn from your mistakes, so you can improve your trading performance on a daily basis.
A good trader is very similar to a good sportsman. Can you imagine an undisciplined athlete, who doesn’t have a training plan to improve his performance and limit mistakes, to make it to the Olympics? It’s the same with trading. Having a well-rounded trading plan and following it disciplined makes the main difference between a successful and an average or losing trader.
How to Find the Right Trading Strategy and Set Trading Goals
Trading strategies are not universal tools that suit all traders. Different people have their unique characteristics that will ultimately affect which trading strategy is best for them. You need to answer some questions to yourself first in order to develop the best trading strategy for you. Do you have plenty of time during the day to watch the markets, or do you want to place a trade and forget about it for weeks? What is your risk tolerance and initial capital you plan to invest? What are your expectations from the market?
All these questions, and more, need serious consideration from your side. You need also to think about why you want to be a forex trader in the first place, and what your trading goals are. The best way is to think about measurable goals that you can track easily. For example, you might want to make a 5% monthly return, be profitable more than 60% of time, or double your account in six months. Whatever it is, pay attention that it needs to be countable and measurable.
Once you know all the answers, you can decide on which trading strategy suits you best. We will discuss more about different trading types in the next chapter.
Discovering How Much You Can Afford to Lose
Forex trading involves a high risk of loss, and you should precisely know how much you’re prepared to risk. To do so, you need to figure out what your risk capital is.
Risk capital is the amount of money that you’re able to lose.
You should only trade with your risk capital, and be prepared that there is a possibility that you lose it all. Never trade with all your savings, you still need to be able to pay your bills at the end of the month!
Again, a trading plan will help you to avoid losing your entire trading account. If you risk, let’s say, 1% of your account per trade, you will need a pretty high number of losses to blow your account. Nevertheless, you should always trade first on a demo account until you become profitable, and only then switch to a real account.
Determining What Tools to Use – Hardware, Software, etc.
The main tools you need in forex trading are a stable internet access, a broker account and a trading platform. However, there are also a lot of other tools that can help a lot in trading. For example, online platforms where you can trade together with other traders can help you to see the market from a different perspective, and avoid missing on trading opportunities. One of the best out there that we’ve found is SmartTrader.com, which also features an advanced charting tool.
In addition, having a back-up plan in case your laptop or Wi-Fi breaks is also something you should think about. In the end, you don’t want to lose a profitable trade only because you didn’t have an internet access to close your position.