Accept Uncertainty and Move On
When trading the markets, uncertainty is often a fact of life. But many traders don't like the idea of putting their money on the line when there is a good chance they will lose it. They seek out certainty, and precision. Last weekend at Trader's Expo in southern California, I saw the need for certainty and perfection at work firsthand. Software vendors promised that their software could help traders identify winning patterns with ease. It was tempting to believe that all one needs to make huge wins is the right software package. When it came to technical analysis classes, I saw trading gurus make reading the price action as simple as looking at the daily price range. But trading is not precise and itís not that easy. It is not an exact science. Unfortunately, history only repeats itself when it does. And a pattern may unfold according to conventional wisdom under some market conditions but not under others.
It is understandable why traders seek out certainty. If the markets followed regular patterns and you could see them easliy, winning would almost be assured. Many traders seek out a level of consistency in the financial markets that just does not exist, however. They believe that the markets follow natural laws and falsely believe that there are some magical mathematical principles that underlie it all. Big time institutional investors may be able to forecast the market action in the long term, but they have mountains of capital and can attempt to hedge risk, and even they have great difficulty merely matching the yearly increases of the indexes. For the smaller investor or trader, there are no secret mathematical formulae. The past is the past, and what happened in the past may not forecast the future.
Don't falsely think that you can forecast market action with the same precision a physicist can program a satellite to orbit Mars. The markets don't follow natural laws. There are many unknown factors that underlie the price action. The best you can do is study all available information and make an educated guess. As long as you manage risk, you can make trade after trade and get the odds to work in your favor. You won't be right all the time, but you'll be right enough of the time to make a profit. It may be pleasing to think that you can add certainty to trading, but you can't. You'll feel better in the long run and trade more profitably if you accept the fact that the future is uncertain.
Traders seek out a level of certainty when trading the markets that just does not exist. It is vital to accept that the markets are uncertain.
Mental Edge Strategies
The kind of people who do well as traders are passionate about success. They believe in taking charge of their lives and doing whatever it takes to achieve success. Although taking control of one's destiny is vital for success, there is a downside. There are times when we just can't take control entirely. We must accept that life can be uncertain, and regardless of how hard we try, we just can't control every aspect of our destinies.
Life can often be uncertain. We don't want to believe that we can be helpless and powerless at times. Indeed, mentally healthy people tend to have a biased view when estimating how much control they actually have over their destinies. They believe that they can control anything that comes their way. But as hard as it is to accept, we just can't control everything. The challenge is to identify what we can control and what we cannot. It is vital for survival to know what we can control and devote our efforts to controlling these events, but at the same time, it is essential to avoid wasting time on trying to control events that we just can't do anything about. When it comes to trading, there is a lot we can do to control our destiny. Rather than trade haphazardly, we can delineate a detailed trading plan and follow it. We can manage risk to insure that we can survive a few losing trades and allow us to feel assured that we can recover should we face a severe drawdown. We can also try to anticipate adverse events, such as earnings reports, that may go against our trade. But no matter how hard we try, we can't account for every possible event. For example, there may be unexpected news about national events that is impossible to anticipate. The best one can do is control risk on a trade to prepare for such a possibility. But worrying about such an event happening, or thinking we can account for every possibility will use up psychological energy that we just don't have. It is important to face the fact that you can't control every possible adverse event. By accepting this fact of life, you can save your time and energy for those circumstances and events you can control and trade with the proper mental edge.