Trading Psychology: Rewire Your Brain for Maximum Performance in Today’s Markets

By Scott Redler

Chapter 5: Trading Ain't Easy

Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.
-Dwayne Johnson

Scammers in YouTube ads want you to think you can clear $50,000 a month working 15 minutes a day. They throw big numbers in your face to make you click ads and sign up for whatever junk they’re pushing that day. It’s all nonsense. Trading is not easy. And thinking it’s easy will lead to your downfall.

If I was training you for a triathlon, what would I be doing if I told you it was easy? I’d be hurting you.

But what if I wanted you to do your best? I’d tell you that hundreds of people have died during triathlons. I’d want you to know that you could drown or have a heart attack. And I’d order you to train as if your life depends on it - because it does. 

Am I trying to scare you? YES. You must take a cold, hard look at the world of trading and embrace the reality of what it takes to succeed over the long term. This includes thinking about scary scenarios. This is very uncomfortable for people. After you read this chapter, you might not want to trade at all. And that’s fine because trading is not for everyone.

So what do you have to accept as a trader? Well, the first thing is that you’re going to have to work really hard. And if you work a normal day job, that hard work might BEGIN at 6 p.m. Or, you might have to wake up at 4 a.m. to get a headstart.

And have I mentioned that there’s no guarantee of success? 

Great traders, even highly experienced ones, never let up. They don’t make $25 million and go sit on the beach, sipping margaritas in between placing orders. The best traders achieve great success, and then work even harder because they are paranoid about losing their edge. 

"The best traders achieve great success, and then work even harder because they are paranoid about losing their edge." #tradingpsychology

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I have a friend who’s 74 years old with a net worth over $200 million. He’s an amazing trader. And what’s he doing at 6 am every morning? He’s walking into his office to start his trading day. He’s that serious about winning even though he’s in his 70’s with more money than he knows what to do with.

Why do I get up at 4:45 a.m. ET every day and Tweet "good morning" to our community?

Because I think putting in extra time gives me an edge over the competition. And it gives me confidence because I know I’m giving it 100% just about every day. When the opening bell rings, I know in my heart that I’ve done everything within my power to win.

There is also some superstition here. I believe that if I let my foot off the gas even a little bit, bad things will happen to me. The market gods will punish me. Remember when you learned that rational traders don’t exist. This is a perfect example of why. 

What else do you need to accept as a trader? Well, that you might lose. And you might lose big. And when you do hit those bumps in the road, you might start thinking “I should have been a lawyer” or “maybe I’ll go back to school.” So you’d end up at a tough spot in life. You’re broke AND you have regrets.

Why am I trying so hard to drag you down here? Because I want you to have realistic expectations about what you’re getting yourself into. You can’t succeed until you face reality.

As Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.”  

If you start trading assuming things will be easy, how do you think you’ll feel if you lose on your first 5 trades in a row. You’d feel pretty bad about it, right? You’d ask yourself “why am I not right 96% of the time like the guy on YouTube?”

But if you fully accept that trading is tough and requires a lot of hard work, you’ll have a much more sensible outlook. You might instead say “losing is a normal part of the game, and I’ll take my size down until I have a better handle on things.” If you go in expecting things to be hard, you’ll be more dedicated to your education and daily preparation. 

I meet a lot of new traders. I have the most confidence about the nervous ones. Because it means they are thinking about what could go wrong. They are going in with their eyes wide open and taking it seriously.

And then… there’s the cowboys. The ones that can’t stop talking about how they’ll have an 80% win rate and how they’ll make $10,000 next week. Those are the people I worry about the most. The minute something goes wrong, they melt down because they expected an easy road. 

Action Item: Visualize a 50% Loss in Your Favorite Stock

Think about your biggest holding. Write out all the ways the trade could go against you for a 50% loss. Include reasons both within your control and outside of your control. And then write 100 words on how you would be emotionally impacted by that 50% loss, and what you would do next.

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