Trading: a mental game

The following article was sent to us by one of our client, Samira C.  Samira shares her story how she became a trader. It is a very inspiring journey as you see her talk about her ups and downs. We are very happy to share her wisdom with our traders.

I got into trading almost by chance. One of my acquaintances talked me into it: the first time I ever saw a chart it looked like astrophysics to me. I remember staring at the screen and back at him and wondering how he could understand anything in all those hieroglyphics while I would only see numbers. I couldn’t define anything I was seeing, it was like a Picasso painting. Just numbers and lines and colours and symbols that – I believed – only some chosen people could translate into something useful. It was overwhelming, for the first time I felt really stupid for not being able to put any of the things I was seeing together.

Short after my first interaction with the markets, I went on holiday and met such Swiss guy claiming to be employed by Goldman Sachs as a stock manager. I didn’t know much about Goldman back then apart from it being one of the biggest financial banks in the world, but then I didn’t have any knowledge about trading whatsoever so to me the fact that an approximately 27 years old guy could already be stock manager didn’t raise any suspicion in me. The guy turned up being a scammer, thing that I would learn later on wasn’t uncommon at all in the financial markets. But what is really important about this piece of information is how coincidentally or not I came in contact with financial investment talk twice over the span of one month while before the whole subject seemed to me like an unreachable reality that only the top 1% could afford.

These two experiences fired up my curiosity, especially since both guys were claiming that investing is THE Sacred Grail of money making. So as all new things that fascinate me, I started looking into it. As probably most of new traders, I landed up almost immediately on Baby Pips website where I got all my basic knowledge from. Was months and months I would spend on charts and reading material. The whole enthusiasm brought me to even buy a relatively cheap course which helped me in the first couple of months of my trading journey. I didn’t spend much time on a demo account, enthusiasm was so big that after almost no practice I decided to open a live account with as little as £200. Probably the luck of the beginner or the lack of understanding in risk management made me somehow flip that account to £800 in the time frame of couple months. As you can imagine the risk I was taking was ridiculously big, but my trading was going so well that my mind didn’t even take into consideration the idea that the winning streak could eventually end. But it did. I started losing couple trades in a row and being my risk huge it had an enormous impact on my psychology.

I decided to take a break and re-assess what I was doing wrong. Obviously, the beginner’s mentality “let’s make millions overnight” didn’t even clued me about the fact that maybe – just maybe – my mistake could be the risk I was taking. Either way as everyone who is new in the business and unsure about what they’re doing I started wondering if it was my strategy that stopped working (newbie mistake, I know). So, I started wandering around listening to what anyone had to say, hoping someone could give me the secret formula for the perfect trading. I was lucky enough to meet a trader who would have later on shared with me his experience. This knowledge was coming down to a basic series of rules: always risk less than your reward, cut your losses quick, find a strategy that works and stick to it no matter what and focus on the psychology of trading more than the analysis.

Now, that last part was what really overwhelmed me. He taught me everything he knew in terms of technical analysis, tools that he said worked for him forever and seemed to me like the answer to my prayers. But, what I wasn’t expecting was that after teaching me all the secrets he knew about trading he would turn to me and say “now forget analysis, you need to work on your trading”. The statement was probably so far from my expectations on what trading meant that I didn’t really believe him, or didn’t want to. He just handed me techniques top traders make you pay for or don’t even want you to know, completely for free, and he was telling me to forget about them? I would find out later on what he meant with that statement. I blew two accounts and I did it with the perfect set of skills: why? Because I didn’t grab a fundamental concept back then: no amount of perfect analysis is going to make you a profitable trader.

Was a tough reality to accept, but here is what I found out: analysis gives you the tools to trade, but what makes the difference between those few who make it in the long run and the rest who spend their life being bitter over their failure as traders is the trading mental game. We are complex organisms by nature and having been raised in a reality where we were given boundaries and rules since birth we enter into this arena of endless opportunities where the only rule is trying to survive how you can, at the best of your possibilities. And we get destabilised by the number of choices we are given, the speed of reaction we need to have, the mental strength that takes to quickly make those choices in an everlasting quick changing environment. And I think this is really the main ingredient that separates success from failure: accepting failure, making sure that when you’re wrong you always lose less than you make when you’re right and being able to sit and wait for the right opportunity instead of chasing the market with no clue whatsoever. Having the mental strength to make your own rules in an environment that doesn’t offer boundaries and having the discipline to stick to your rules no matter what.

I hope you found yourself in my story and it gave you the chance to reflect on your own trading and if possible helped you improve.

I wish everyone happy trading!