After writing about why good trading usually is quite boring last week, I’ll continue down that
road today and write about another similar topic.
And again it’s more of a rant that many of you maybe don’t want to read about. But I believe it
really can be an eye-opener to those of you who’re really serious about trading and these are the
traders that I care for the most. Actually I wish I had read this myself years ago, I had to pay a
lot of money to the markets to finally really get this.
Another way in which trading is often misunderstood. And that is trying to make your trading into
something that feels good, that feels comfortable, that you feel in harmony with.
And like trading for excitement there’s nothing inherently wrong with trading to feel comfortable.
Go ahead, but then be ready to pay the price and don’t expect to make any money trading. Because in
my experience good trading often doesn’t feel good.
Now what exactly do I mean by that? There’s a common theme going round and round in the world of
trading, and you’ll especially often hear it from all kind of gurus as the answer to all kinds of
questions: „Do what you feel comfortable with.“.
Here are some examples of such questions and answers.
Q: „Okay I understand the entry setup, now where should I place my stop, here or here?“
A: „If you like trading this setup with a tight stop, place your stop here. But if you prefer to
give it more room, simply place your stop here.“
Q: „When should I trade profits?“
A: „You can take off part of the position early if you want to, or when you got the same as your
initial risk. Or you leave it all on until you’re stopped out, it really depends on what you feel
Q: „In which markets should I trade this?“
A: „Whatever markets work for your daily schedule and account size.“
Q: „Should I take all the setups or just the best?“
A: „That depends on you and your comfort zone, some traders are more picky, others tend to simply
take all the setups.“
Q: „What time of the day should I trade this market?“
A: „Pick a time of the day that fits into your daily schedule, it’s open 24 hours!“
First of all I have to admit that I thought the same way for a long time. And it’s hard to not too.
Just look around a bit on the internet. Everyone seems to have joined the „do what feels
comfortable“ cult. And often you’ll also find the same people in the „you just need the right
mindset“ cult. These two seem to fit well together providing plenty of answers to all kinds of
Now unfortunately trading is not a picnic. And if you’re one of the few traders out there who
actually found an edge in the market you know that very well. You know how hard it is to find
anything at all that works. So once you do, you’re just happy about it and don’t make any
supplementary requirements. The luxury to be picky simply isn’t there in trading.
And whatever edge it is that you’ve found, it won’t work in every market, on every timeframe with
any kind of stop loss, profit targets and risk management. There are limitations everywhere that
simply can’t be overcome. Doesn’t matter if you’re into high frequency trading or long term trend
You for example can’t day trade all markets, all the time successfully. And some markets are almost
impossible to be day traded successfully at all due to their low liquidity and very high trading
costs in relationship to their intraday price moves.
You can’t use whatever stop-loss you feel comfortable with, if you use a too tight or too wide
stop, your method will simply stop being profitable.
That’s even more true of taking profits. Getting out of trades too early with tiny profits very
often is a sure road to bankruptcy. Sure it feels good to take some off the table right away…but
it’s hardly ever successful in the long run.
The same is true for how good a specific trade setup has to be/look. What exactly does that even
mean? Either certain conditions are met or not. Everything else is just an excuse to try to
foolishly cherry pick trades in the hope to look into the future and know if that single trade is
more or less likely to work out. That’s just insane.
If at all, in my experience, the opposite is true. I’d say that most of the best trades don’t
feel/look too good when you look at the chart before you take them. Which is one of the reasons I
hardly do that anymore but that’s another topic.
I found some of my best trading setups while trying out certain popular setups and then realizing
that not only they don’t work, but that with a small change I can turn them into a profitable
method doing the exact opposite. Ambush is an example of this, I’m still thankful that one of the
methods I read about in a book totally didn’t work even though it had a really good sounding logic
backing it up. Our intuitions about the markets are often just plain wrong.
Now my point is that that to most trading questions there are clear answers. Or at least clear
limits. It just takes a lot of time and effort to figure them out. And not respecting these facts,
you might feel comfortable while putting on your next trade, but you won’t feel too comfortable in
the long run.
Of course there are some points in your trading you need to feel comfortable with. You simply might
not be able to trade certain methods or markets because they’re too far away from your comfort
zone. Maybe you’ve found an edge in selling naked options but thinking about the unlimited risk of
that strategy, you couldn’t sleep at night. Or you found a method that works nicely but you’d have
to get up at 2 AM each day to trade it.
And of course risk management. What kind of drawdown can you make it through? That’s where your
comfort zone definitely needs to be considered.
But going any further will keep you from being successful in the markets and make you feel pretty
uncomfortable in the long run. That’s why I suggest you find that comfort somewhere else in your
life and accept trading for what it is. A highly competitive business that offers little room for
Nowadays my actual trading just feels neutral, it’s something I just do, a job. I place my orders
and walk away. And that makes me a happy trader most of the time. I don’t expect anything from
trading except profits in the long run.
What I love about trading is the ongoing challenge and it makes me happy to know that I’m competing
against some of the brightest minds on earth in the markets. They do what works. The challenge is
doing the research, finding new edges and of course doing the best to stay on top of my game all
the time. Knowing very well that whoever is on the other side of my trade is probably doing the
same and if they’re successful they also probably don’t invest too much energy into getting good
feeling out of their trading. Instead they’re sitting there like me thinking about ways to get more
of the (my) cake.
And sure enough, it does make a difference whether I’m just making new equity highs on my accounts
or keep on digging deeper and deeper into a drawdown. But I learned how to deal with this mentally,
keeping my focus on the long run. Having really understood that trading is a numbers game is a
helping a lot here. Which might be a topic for another article!
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