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10 Common Mistakes In Trading

Aug 17, 2007
I would like to talk about 10 common mistakes in trading. New traders are often unaware of what is required in trading and the bad habits that can lead to financial suicide.

1. Under capitalization - One of the first mistake I made when beginning to trade was being under capitalized. I started with a $10K account without any idea on how to trade. You need enough capital to learn and gain the experience. Some like to call the initial stake "market tuition." If you can avoid paying your dues, great for you. But most new traders will lose their money. Just make sure you learn from every loss.

2. Having the approach to trading as a "learn as you trade" - Big mistake. "Learn as you trade" = losing money. Losing money can lead to emotional and financial stress and may even create enough fear in you making it hard to trade. Make sure you come prepared to the battlefield. Be a strategist. Sun Tzu said, "The battle is won before it is fought." Think about it.

3. Trading as a hobby - Take a look at your hobbies. Do they make money? Hobbies in general are entertainment that cost money. Do not approach trading as a hobby. Treat it like a business. Develop a business plan, have goals, and understand what you want out of trading.

4. Thinking that you know it all - The moment one thinks he knows it all is the moment he has become a fool. Its impossible to know everything about the markets. This is a lifetime learning process. Find your niche, find your speciality and be an expert in it. In other words, find your edge. One thing I learned in trading is that niche = money.

5. Trading without a plan - One of the worst things you can do as a trader is to trade without a plan. Trading without a plan is like driving in a new area without a map or a navigation system. You are lost.

6. Not following your trading plan - Okay so now you have a trading plan. Why don't you just follow it? A common mistake among traders is not following a developed trading plan. This leads to impulse trading or emotional trading.

7. Wanting to be right - Are you trying to be right? Or are you trying to make money? This is a hard one... I personally have to battle myself to avoid this bad habit. Our egos interupt with our trading and we tend to want to prove something to ourself or someone else. The markets do not care what you think. You are in it to make money.

8. Money Management - Strict money management is a necessity. Set your risk parameters for all your trading setups. A common rule is to risk no more than 2% on one trade. I prefer 1%. Being long 10 different stocks at 2% risk per trade is not a good idea. In fact you are risking 20%. Know your size and do not double up your position after a series of losses. Be a grinder and not a cowboy.

9. Have realistic goals - Too many traders come into this arena without unrealistic goals. Questions like "Can I make a million my first year with a $10k account?" Sure you can, but is that really realistic? Focus on crafting your trading. When you know how to trade the money will flow naturally.

10. Not analyzing yourself and your trades - This a poker habit I have. I tend to analyze every losing and winning hand to learn from it. Traders need to do the same and analyze every trade. Think about it after the trading hours and focus on what you can do to improve. Trading is a constant journey of soul searching as well. Understand yourself and you will significantly improve your trading.
About the Author
James Lee is a full-time day trader specializing in the mini-sized Dow futures. His core trading strategy is based on pivot point clusters and Market Profile. Find out how to identify high probability trading opportunities at http://www.traderslaboratory.com.
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