When people try something new, they tend to shy away from identifying with it. New authors tell people they have been “writing a book” rather than calling themselves writers; aspiring culinary artists note that they “like to cook” instead of calling themselves chefs; and beginner day traders might say they are “into the stock market” instead of labeling themselves as traders.
At some point, those who stick with their craft long enough decide they are no longer “trying it out.” For traders, that point comes when they cultivate a more productive trading behavior. Even if the ultimate goal is to make a profit, the threshold dividing beginners from experienced traders is less about the profits and more about confidence and consistency.
As traders gain more experience, they tend to develop a more disciplined approach to their decisions. The following five practices are telltale signs that a trader is no longer a newcomer.
USE RELIABLE INFORMATION
There is no shortage of trading tips, market news, and analysis available online; the tricky part is filtering out the misleading content and focusing on the trustworthy information. As a new trader, this can feel especially overwhelming. Researching the most accurate analyses and news sources takes time, but as traders become more familiar with the industry, the most reliable sources of information will be easier to find.
Staying critical of the information you find is crucial, even with sources you initially trust. By fact-checking and consulting multiple sources, you may find sources that were once reputable may lose credibility over time.
CONSIDER THE RISK
The potential for a profit can dangle like a carrot, causing eager traders to lunge for the opportunity without considering the potential consequences. Often, naive traders may prioritize the reward over the risk; however, when the rewards are greater, usually the risks are, too.
More experienced traders will consider limiting their losses first. For instance, a veteran trader might set stop-loss or take-profit orders to manage their risk.
LEAVE EMOTIONS OUT OF THE TRADE
Have you ever played Monopoly with someone, and just when that person thought he would win, he suddenly realized he was bankrupt? Did he ever flip over the board in frustration, sending game pieces flying? Now imagine a rookie trader with that same competitive energy, except instead of colorful play money, it’s his own capital.
Inexperienced traders may be more likely to let their emotions overrule their strategy. Some traders are prone to revenge trading, which is when they attempt to make up for losses by immediately entering a larger and riskier trade. Seasoned traders are more likely to stay disciplined, document their loss in their trading journals, and evaluate their performance to avoid their mistakes.
WAIT FOR THE RIGHT PRICE
Some trades may initially seem tempting, but a disciplined trader is willing to pass on trades that don’t match their set price. Restless traders may be persuaded to take a position with a worse entry price or higher risk because they are apprehensive about missing their opportunity.
Instead, adept traders wait for trades that match their entry rules. They know that even if they pass on a trade today, other opportunities are bound to appear.
FOLLOW THE TRADING PLAN
Successful trading often depends on the work prepared outside of regular market hours. Therefore, veteran traders are more likely to develop trading plans to guide their trading decisions.
A plan establishes your goals and methods. Before each trading day, review how much you aim to make and your entry triggers, and make adjustments as necessary depending on market conditions or company news. This can help you stay organized and ready to focus on your strategy.
Developing discipline and gaining confidence take time, and the growth may be so small that they aren’t noticeable. Still, by making incremental changes and gaining experience, traders can cultivate more consistent strategies and become more profitable.