Every successful forex trader needs a set of skills and characteristics. Some of these skills we can acquire through training while others we can only develop from constant practice, which is why a demo account comes handy.
The ability to understand the fundamentals of a currency and the ability to point the direction of the trend, for instance, are some of the key skills that online forex trading demands, but none of them is as important as developing the proper trading psychology and discipline.
What’s it About Trading Discipline That is so Important?
If you ask me, or any other sober forex trader in Kenya, they will tell you that the psychological aspect of trading is the most important and defining part of trading. Forget about a fancy trading system or a million-dollar forex trading course, if your psychological game is not intact, you are headed for doom.
A s a forex trader you will always be entering and exiting trades, sometimes on very short notice. The market will constantly force you to make snap decisions. To operate profitably in such circumstances, you will need an incredible mental game, and by extension, discipline, so that you are able to stick to your plan.
This is what we call self-discipline.
According to Mark Douglas, the author of Trading in the Zone, self-discipline is “a mental technique to redirect our focus of attention to the object of our goal or desire, when that goal or desire conflicts with some other component of our mental environment.”
In short, self-discipline is the ability to develop a mental framework that lets you stay focused and motivated in spite of challenges, losses, mistakes, and conflicts of interest. Particularly, you will need to teach yourself how to get rid of the negative feeling that is associated with losses and setbacks.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. When faced by the real market risk, many traders abandon their trading plans and succumb to emotional trading. Greed, fear and euphoria can get the best of you and ruin your plans.
Things would have been different if self-discipline was a trait that you were born with. Unfortunately, it is not.
Many traders find it difficult to develop steady forex trading discipline, which is why automated forex trading software has become so common. But trust me, it is possible to develop the right trading discipline. Being disciplined will help you become a more profitable trader in the long run, even if you decide to use automated trading software in the future.
Here is how you can build your trading discipline:
Developing Clear Trading Goals
Setting clear trading goals and understanding the motivation behind your trading is a good place to begin. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to trade forex? What do I want to gain and achieve from investing in the forex market?”
Sitting in front of your computer, taking trades and hoping for the best is not enough. You must have a target in mind. What are you aiming to achieve by taking that particular trade? How many pips do you hope to gain?
Many beginner forex traders get into trading because they feel it is a get-rich channel. They set unrealistic goals and pay a hefty price for that. Don’t just set a bunch of crappy goals because I told you to do so. Your goals need to be realistic. It is important that you set challenging but achievable goals to avoid frustrations that may result from not hitting your target.
Without a goal in mind, it is possible to let the discouragement of being new to trading defeat your desire to learn.
Here is something that you must keep in mind as you venture into forex trading; every endeavor that you set to undertake will always be difficult in the beginning. This hold true more in online forex trading. Chances are that you will suffer many losses. This part will be disheartening, and if you are not disciplined, chances are that you will give up trading.
Maintaining Focus on What Needs to Be Done
Setting clear and realistic goals puts you one step closer to becoming a successful and disciplined forex trader. It is easier to stay focused on your goals, but that assumes that you actually get off your ass and do what needs to be done i.e. trading. For instance, if your goal is to let profits run and cutting your losses short, you must start putting trailing stops to your trades.
On the contrary, if you did not set clear trading goals, you’ll probably waste a lot of time trying to figure out what needs to be done. In return, this makes you more susceptible to your emotions.
Keeping a Trading Journal
Keeping a trading journal is an easy way to track your past trades. It can also help you identify areas that you need to work on. I also find that a trading journal helps me avoid making impromptu trades since I hold myself accountable for every trade that I take.
After a streak of losses, many traders, I included, start to take trades that are not in their plan. By recording your trades in a journal, you will identify this behavior and work to correct it.
A trading journal is also a great way to keep yourself motivated. It is unavoidable that you will face a lot of obstacles along the way. There will be a lot of times when you will feel discouraged and ready to give up. This is where your self-discipline will be put to the test. In order to succeed, your resolve to push on must be greater than the temptation to give up.
When you have reached your trading goals, take some time to refer back to your trading journal. What were the trades that you took that led to your target. What kind of analysis led you to hit your target? Can you replicate it on your future trades?