The Problem is Between Your Ears! by Kerry W. Given, Ph.D.

When I review my trades each month, I make an important distinction between my losing trades and my bad trades. Dont allow yourself to rationalize how the stock is going to rebound or allow your ego to refuse to admit the mistake. These losses are simply a cost of doing business. Simply saying I will buy and sell stocks is not a trading system. Trading losses are an expected, necessary part of any investment activity. Losing trades are those where I followed all of my rules, but the trade just didnt work out as planned. It is critical to treat your investing as a business, not a hobby. Developing a trading system and following the individual trade plans ensure that your profitable trades will outweigh your losses.

Before you buy that stock or option spread or other investment, you must make some critical decisions.

Many people approach the market in a very unsystematic fashion. Write down your answers to the following questions: Why do I think this is a good idea? At what price will I admit my idea is not working and close the trade? If appropriate for this trade, at what price will I make some adjustments to the position? At what price will I take my profits? The answers to these questions and others constitute your trading plan. When averaged over all of the different players and games, and over the long term, the casino will come out ahead. Develop a system that suits your personal style, risk tolerance, knowledge level, and time available to devote to this activity. In fact, when you closely analyze the actual trades of many investors, they are indeed gamblers. Follow Your Plan

A common misperception holds that investing is akin to gambling. They are following tips and hunches, investing large amounts on expected turnarounds, anticipating mergers, betting on start-ups, and so on. In any business, there are necessary expenses to keep the business open. Given, Ph.D.

Perhaps the most critical characteristic shared by successful investors and traders is their psychological approach to the market. Dont rationalize. But consider the business of gambling not the gambler, but the casino. For example, for a stock investor, what criteria will stocks meet for your consideration? At what price will you buy? Will you short stocks? Where will you set your stop loss price? How much will you invest in any single position? How much will you diversify among industry sectors? Will you rotate in and out of sectors as they fall out of favor with the markets? Wherever possible, back test your rules and ensure your system has a reasonable expectation of profitability.

Dont hope. Write down your rules. The casino owner knows that he may have a big winner today at one of the blackjack tables, but that doesnt concern him because he knows he has an edge. The following ideas will help you control your emotions and improve your trading results.

Have a Written Plan for Every Trade

Evaluate Your Results

Develop a Trading System

When you work hard to develop the knowledge of the market you are trading, develop a trading system, have a written plan for every trade, follow your plan with great discipline, and learn from your mistakes, you have positioned yourself as the casino owner, not one of the customers.

This Isnt Gambling

This may be the hardest aspect of trading you must master. But you could be the worlds foremost expert on the commodities market and still not be able to translate that knowledge into monetary success.

Two emotions, fear and greed, can be lethal to your financial success. Bad trades result when I break my own rules for entering the trade or lack the discipline to follow the plan. Decide what market you will trade and exactly how you will trade. When the stock price dips below your stop loss price, close the position. Once you have your plan, you must have the discipline to follow the plan unemotionally. I am not suggesting that you can simply think the right way and trade stocks, commodities or any other market successfully. The casino establishes a game where the casino holds a statistical edge; depending on the game, that edge may be rather small, of the order of 1-2%. One day they are buying blue chip stocks that pay dividends; the next day they are playing tips from their nephews on biotechnology start-ups. Developing an unemotional, systematic approach to your trading and investments is crucial for success. Follow your plan. . All forms of financial investments have foundational knowledge that is essential to success in that market.

Develop a routine of reviewing your trading results periodically. Be sure you have a plan before you establish the trade.

The Problem is Between Your Ears!

by: Kerry W