Trading is often portrayed as a glamorous way to become financially stable. Who wouldn’t love to pick perfect trades and make hundreds in a single day? But, the reality is that many traders give up long before they reach profitability.
They realize it’s not like the movies make it out to be; in fact, it can involve hundreds of hours of staring at charts, doubting yourself, blowing up accounts, and competing in a marketplace full of algorithms that can do a better job.
That said, if you are one of the few determined to put the work in and become a profitable trader, then part of the process is wanting to give up. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re going through it right now. Here’s what to do if you feel ready to give up trading.
Start by proving to yourself that your strategy works. Flick through charts on your preferred timeframe, then pinpoint the areas from which you would’ve taken trades. Using something like TradingView’s bar replay is perfect for this.
Log every trade, including what you risked, whether the trade worked, and what made it work or not work. If you’re consistently unprofitable, you know your strategy needs to be worked on. If it’s profitable but not when live trading, then you know you need to work on yourself.
Look over old trades
Similar to backtesting, look over old trades if you have a journal. If you don’t have a journal, that’s likely one of the big reasons you’re currently failing – because you can’t look at your trades retrospectively and examine what factors led to winners/losers. Start one ASAP.
If you have a journal, however, review it and remind yourself of what you did that led to success. Write down everything you can learn that would benefit your trading, then incorporate it into your strategy.
Gain a new perspective
Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective. It could be a friend who trades and has been in the same situation before. Or, it could be a new way of looking at your strategy. Seeking out successful traders and using their knowledge to your advantage is part of the learning process.
For example, if you really like trading Ichimoku clouds, find resources that go in-depth on how to use them. Chances are, you’ll find something that clicks that can then enhance your strategy.
Identify and work on your psychological weaknesses
You might’ve heard the phrase “trading is 20% strategy and 80% psychology”, and it’s true. You could have the best strategy in the world, but if you’re prone to revenge trading, overmanaging, or not taking trades out of fear of losing, you’ll never be successful.
Think about yourself when you trade. Can you identify yourself trading emotionally? If you’re drawing blanks, then examine yourself the next time you’re trading. Write down what you notice. Then, give yourself rules to follow that will counteract these aspects of your psychology.
If you revenge trade, for example, allow yourself five consecutive losses before you stop live trading for the day.
Reduce your risk
If you’re trading with real money, then you might feel like giving up because you’re losing too much. In that case, set risk management rules that will allow you to stay in the game. Not only will your wallet thank you, but it’s also much easier on you psychologically.
For instance, if you usually risk 1% on a trade, cut it down to 0.5% after three consecutive losers. If you lose another three times, cut it down to 0.25%. Once you win, move back up to 0.5%. If you win that trade, move back up to your limit of 1%.
Finally, it might be time to return to demo trading. Some say that demo trading doesn’t reflect reality because you don’t experience the same emotions when real money is on the line. That might be true, but are you really going to refine your strategy and identify your weak points if you’re constantly worried about losing more money?
Instead, switch to demo trading, and hone your strategy. Aim to double your account before you even consider moving back to live trading. Becoming a decent trader takes time and failure, but you too can also become profitable with the right attitude, approach, and mindset.