Always when I am reading a book with trader interviews I am astonished how confident they appeal. Mostly this confidence based on a long track record and experience. Some of the Market Wizards have over 20 years of experience.
But how to gain this confidence in your own trading? Is the only way to wait 20 years and make thousand of trades?
In the last months I thought a lot about “mental capital“. With mental capital I mean the trust and confidence in your own trading. This can increase and decrease, depending on your experiences in the market. Example: As big loss can decrease your mental capital which leads to a more defensive behavior. The opposite is possible, too. A big profitable trade can boost your confidence and leads to over-trading.
It always comes back to trading psychology … If you call it mental capital, trust or confidence is irrelevant. But I made some experiences which I want to share with you.
5 points to build up more confidence in your trading
Here are some points and experiences which helps me to gain confidence in my trading:
- Charting your equity curve: This helped me a lot. It brings transparency in your trading and shows the results of your action. Especially if you have an edge in the market it will boost your confidence because your equity curve is going up!
- Positive outcome: If your trading is profitable it helps you to get more confidence. It’s not important how much you are making, it’s more important that your trading process results in a positive outcome. If you are not profitable, change or optimize the process.
- Tweak your approach: You must tweak your trading approach until it matches your personality. F.e. I implemented a scaling out tactic because I hate it to give back too much of my open profits. This leads to a smoother equity curve and increased my trust.
- Rules and best practices: Always if you see that a rule helps you in your trading, you build up confidence. Especially risk management rules are a good example. I hate too loose much of my capital in draw downs. That’s why I have risk- and money management rules to reduce my position size and cut my losses strictly. I have a high confidence in that rule-set because it prevented me of big losses and draw downs.
- Have a positive mindset: You must work on your long-term mindset. If you don’t think that you can make it as a trader, it will block you form a positive outcome. You must develop self-confidence and a positive self-attitude. Read books about success, motivation and role-models. Look how they did it and look that they startet the same way as you …
Why confidence is so important
I startet with the points to build up confidence, because I gives you some practical examples. But the you must understand the background why confidence is important, too.
In trading all comes down to the psychology. Markets and trader are driven by emotions. This is true for systematic trader, too. There are hundreds of ways to sabotage automatic trading systems. But especially as a discretionary trader you have to know how your confidence influences your trading.
I would say: The more confident you are, the better are your results. Why? Look at these points:
- You will take your signals, because you know that it will end in a positive outcome.
- Rules will be accepted and followed. You saw that they had a positive influence.
- You are in a state of “flow” where everything is easy and fun.
- Every trading opportunity is recognized and evaluated. You take only the best situations because it matches your plan.
You can see that confidence has a direct influence on your trading. This is why you have to maintain it and never decrease it. The decrease will come automatically in that times if your trading is not working.
But be warned: Too much confidence is a problem! You want not to be over-confident, because it will bring you to fall. With a too high confidence you will sabotage your plan, make too big bets and think everything will go on and on. But the markets and trading are never linear. One day the mood of the markets will change and your trading is not working (for some time).
5 points to maintain confidence in your trading
Maintain and build-up confidence is nearly identical. But to maintain confidence your had to build it up first. That’s why you know to do it.
Here are some tips for maintaining confidence in your trading:
- Look back at your results: Analyse your equity curve and trades. Why did it work? What was the situation in the market where your trading worked? You must be clear about the time your trading approach works.
- Trading is a craft and skill: Be sure that the mindset of a trader is adaptive. It’s not rigid to one market or approach. If the stock market is a bearish situation look at other markets. Can you apply your trading approach to forex, commodities or fixed income? What’s about inverse ETFs?
- Distract yourself: If you have no edge in the market, do not apply your trading approach. I know, I want to be in the markets all the time too, but this leads to losses. That’s why I do other things if my trading is not working: Reading, writing, analyzing, other businesses … If you try to trade a trading system with no edge, your trust in that system will be pulverized over a short term.
- Have role models or mentors: Especially if you are a beginner, you need role models or a mentor. They solved a lot of problems and overcome a lot of situations. You can profit from their confidence and experience.
- Work on your mindset: Have a long-term perspective. Think about the next 1000snd trades and 20 years. I know it’s hard, but you will not make millions of dollars in a short time. Of course I want to do this, too, but that’s not how trading works. If you want to have the chance of a million dollar with one click: Play the lottery! Instead read some good books and blogs about motivation, success and self-help.
Like everything else you have to find your own way. I stumbled about a nice quote: I don’t think trading can be taught, but it can be learned (source unknown). I am sure that everyone who want’s to be a market wizard will find a way. And she or he will find a way to build up and maintain confidence in their person and trading.
Here is a small list of recommended trading books about this topic.
Last update: 2020-05-03 / affiliate links / Images: Amazon Product Advertising API