Trading Confidence: The Balance of Self-Mastery

In any performance endeavor, confidence plays an absolutely crucial role in success or failure. Trading confidence is exactly the same.

Relatively new traders are often particularly prone to issues relating to confidence. A new trader comes along and has little to no frame of reference for what competent trading really looks like and therefore is susceptible to emotion-based assessments of their own abilities.

Two paths

And it’s this inability to objectively identify skill that frequently leads down one of two paths in the early days of a trader’s career.

The first path is one begins with a relatively easy and baggage-free type of trading. This sort of trading is uncomplicated by past experiences and often leads to a trader simply executing what they see. They take trades when they see them – they execute both their winners and losers without prejudice. Over a short period, this freedom of execution can and often does, see a decent winning streak. The issue can be that a trader in this situation becomes over-confident. However, the inability to recognize the reasons behind their winning streak and the lack of core knowledge combined with an unfounded cockiness can be a dangerous cocktail. When their trading starts to falter, they can plunge into an even bigger losing streak.

There is an alternate path that some traders follow – it’s one of complete uncertainty. A new trader may recognize the fact that their knowledge is patchy at best and that is a sure-fire way to make them risk-averse. An issue for this type of trader is that they may become obsessed with learning as much as they can and by not trading much, they fail to learn execution lessons that can make a huge difference to trading performance. But there’s another aspect to consider here – if you don’t believe you can win and be successful, are you genuinely going to be motivated and focused on actually taking trades?

A little bit of swagger

Everything in life is about finding a good balance. The over-confident and cocky trader whose self-belief has been artificially boosted by a good run of results, should take the time to objectively analyze reality before the market hands them an unpleasant and costly lesson.

But a healthy swagger/self-belief coupled with a willingness to accept defeat, can bring out some of the qualities that can help a trader to succeed. The ability to fully focus on trading certainly is easier when you feel that you can win. Competitiveness can help you to drive forward and simultaneously innovate. Self-value makes you believe that you are worth the effort. An unshakable self-confidence and determination to continue in the face of setbacks helps you to ride out losing streaks.

A trader who does not truly believe they can succeed, will find it increasingly difficult to continue.

Finding the happy medium of trading confidence

In order to find that balance in your trading confidence it’s essential to base your beliefs about your ability on something more concrete than feelings. This is partly why taking regular stock of your performance and actual results is a critical step in facilitating performance. But it’s also important to assess your overall emotional state relative to performance over time to maintain awareness of the risks that you currently face.

Finding that balance of trading confidence is not always straight forward, but if you want to get there by design, you must first know where you currently sit in terms of confidence and ability.

Trade well.

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