Surfing the web during the New York Snowpocalipse yesterday I stumbled across a Business Insider video on how to tackle your debts. I am what’s known as a “deadbeat” in the credit card business because I pay my bill in full every month, but the video had some great points to make about how to tackle this difficult issue so I am going to shamelessly steal some of its ideas because I think they can help us in the world of trading.
What’s the biggest problem for traders today? If you were to ask that question 10 or 20 years ago, I would have said scarcity. Scarcity of data, scarcity of products, scarcity of technology. Nowadays we have the exact opposite problem.
Literally, everything we want is available at a click of a button and costs virtually nothing. Data, news, charting, execution software, cloud storage. If you tried very hard you couldn’t spend more than $100/month on services that would have cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars just a few decades ago.
In a world of abundance, the one thing that’s scarce is our attention span. It’s just too easy to play with all the shiny toys and lose your focus. No one is more guilty of that fact than yours truly who never met a gadget or a software program that he didn’t like.
Don’t get me wrong. Experimentation is awesome. In fact, you will never improve unless you experiment with your setups because the markets are ever changing. But experimentation should not dominate your time.
To trade well you need to focus and to ruthlessly eliminate distractions. The Business Insider video states that the first rule of debt reduction is to simply take a full inventory of all your creditors then ranks them on the order of greatest debt and highest interest rate.
As traders, we should do the same with our trading strategies. Inventory all the setups you are trading now and then rank them by your sense of confidence in each one.
The next step is very important.
Set aside all your trade setups except your top three. This is the maximum amount of strategies that most of us can follow at one time. Trading is the exact opposite of investing. Whereas investing is wide and shallow (you just buy a whole swath of assets, look at them once a year and rely on diversification to help you produce a return) trading is narrow and deep. As traders, we make our money on tiny inefficiencies in the markets based on some isolated human behavior relative to some specific instruments. That’s why blanket technical analysis fails so miserably. A breakout in GBPUSD is very different than a breakout in EURCHF. A large move in Asia is much less meaningful than a large move in North America.
Context is key to successful trading and properly understanding context is a direct function of focus. The longer you trade your setup, the deeper your knowledge will be.
That’s the true edge in trading and it starts with the same advice that we give to those who are deep in debt.
And focus on what’s left with all your might.
My motto for 2018 is — Don’t get mad, get better. This is the way to start.