If there is a secret to being successful at trading, then it’s simple: persistence. Keeping on in the face of setbacks isn’t easy, but it has its own rewards. It’s worth noting a key finding in Geoff Colvin’s book Talent is overrated: What really separates world-class performers from everybody else. Great performance is not reserved for a preordained few - it is available to you and to everyone. But you have to want it and to be prepared to work hard to achieve it.
You’ve made a great start by immersing yourself in the world of trading. You’ve found a broker you’re happy with, and a charting package that’s intuitive yet sophisticated. You subscribe to all the best market news and data feeds. Maybe you’ve taken a few, or even more than a few, courses. You’ve acquired all of the recommended books - and you might even have read some of them.
All of this activity means you’ve put in some degree of exertion. But your initial efforts will be doomed if you mistake your flurry of preliminary interest and excitement for the reality of a successful long term trading career. The difference between interest and successful action is the difference between being able to order lunch by pointing to items behind the counter, and conversing fluently with the wine waiter in a foreign language.
At the early stages, your interest in trading is likely to be driven by excitement and curiosity. Unfortunately, there is a danger that this initial exhilaration will dry up, and you will find yourself running out of “fun fuel”, and lose interest. As you begin to get a glimpse of the potential perils that lie ahead on your trading path, you will need to load up a truckload of willpower. You are at the most crucial stage of your journey, the part where you have to decide whether to let your dreams slip away, or consciously choose to persevere.
Unfortunately, many more choose to walk away than remain. And that’s okay, if it turns out that trading really didn’t suit your temperament and talent. But it’s not okay if you are in fact perfectly capable of succeeding, but are simply not aware of how much work is involved and if you are not mentally prepared to do what is needed to learn how to trade effectively.
Once you decide to stick with trading, you’re already drawing down on reserves of determination you may not have realised you possessed. That’s a great start. But be warned, this is not an easy road. We haven’t yet found our groove, and our persistence will likely have a dogged quality that allows us to barely drag ourselves through failure, lethargy and disappointment. We’re finding our way, we haven’t seen the big rewards yet, and all we can do is just overcome one hurdle at a time.
In our heads, we want our willpower to power us to perform like a piece of precision machinery, effective, efficient, limitless and unbreakable. In reality, life isn’t like that. We will get distracted and despondent - sometimes for long periods of time - and may experience grinding frustration.
There are usually at least two factors in achieving any sort of success. In trading, education and understanding is a baseline requirement for anybody to succeed. But knowledge needs to be combined with the consistent application of focused effort. Don’t look to score points on style. It doesn’t matter how you get there, just keep on learning and persisting in your drive to get better.
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