10 Tips to Start Building Good Trading Habits


I have been fairly busy recently due to my short break in London as well as going through my mid-year trading review. While going through all that, I realised that I lost some of my trading routines and I have to build the momentum again.

I believe this is one important element of trading that every trader – both new and old traders – should acquire. All traders need to learn how to build good trading habits and once they have these good habits going, they need to make an effort to maintain it.

Some of you might assume that you probably don’t need to know this because you have been a market trader for a long time and your habits are all intact. Hence, you would also need to understand that professional traders are normal human beings to. Bad habits do creep up once in awhile.

Hence, I believe this skill will be handy irrespective of your trading experience and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

 1.      Set out Clear Goals

The simplest way to start this exercise is to start with writing down your existing trading routine. Yup, if you’re going to do this, might as well do a comprehensive analysis on it. Once you have your routine written down in front of you, it makes it easier to identify the areas that you want change.

In short, you really want to establish where you are now and where you want to go. Without having a clear idea of the habits you want to change means you’re probably going to struggle to change.

2.      Commit to 30 Days

I’m sure you are aware that habits are literally activities that we repeat everyday (or very frequently) and the one day that we stop doing it, we feel a sense of emptiness or we may just feel uneasy. Well, guess what, that is the same feeling when you want to build good habits. That is because you are moving away from one habit to another. However, the key word here is repeatability and if you can get pass the first 30 days, which is the hardest, everything becomes easier from there.

3.      Get a Buddy

Your buddy can be your partner or even your trading buddy. That’s really not that important. However, it is vital to understand that having a buddy is about having someone to motivate you and to remind you of your commitment to change.

4.      Remove Temptations

I get it, changing is hard. However, it is much harder if you have temptations around you. For example, if you think there is an indicator on your screen that makes you want to trade more than you should, then remove that indicator. If you are a technical trader and you are reading news (fundamental) which will affect your market bias, then you should also stop doing that.

5.      Expect Failed Attempts

Before you start you should already start to expect to have a few failed attempts before you succeed. Please don’t be one of those egoistic and arrogant traders who think they can get it right first time. Even if you can, don’t plan for it that way. Building a new trading habit takes time and nothing more. It is not difficult be it takes perseverance.

On the other hand, this should not be your reason for failure. Instead, make every effort to make it work but do not be discouraged by those false expectations.

6.      Use “But” Statements

Instead of just writing down the activities that you want to include in your new trading regime, you should always try to use positive statements. For example, I am struggling to wake up but I make it is worth the effort. Or I have no trade setup today but it’s worth the wait for a higher probability trade.

7.      Keep it To One Page

Write down your new trading routine and make sure to keep all the activities written within one page (of an A4 size paper) only. Very often, traders like to write down your rules and routine on multiple sheets of paper. However, when they need to refer to it, they realise that it take forever to find what they are looking for. Instead, if you keep everything to only one page, you can avoid duplication and potentially forgetting some new strategies that might be useful.

8.      Visualise and Be Motivated

cat lion mirrorFirst, visualise the bad habits that you had. How do you feel? Terrible? Fuel with regrets? Uncomfortable? Now, make a note of the negative emotions and remind yourself how badly you want to get away from it.

Next, visualise the new but good habits that you intent to acquire. Again, how do you feel about it? Excited? Energised? Happy? If so, make a note of the positive emotions and compare it with the negative ones.

With that, do you feel motivated to change? I hope the answer is yes. And make sure to apply the same technique frequently to remind yourself that you really want to change.

9.      Know the Benefits and Know that it’s worth it

The first day you start to implement change will be the most exciting. Unfortunately, that is not the hardest of the hurdle. When you start doing it for your 5th, 6th or even 10th day, you will come to realise that implementing a new trading habit is not easy and it can be painful. However, be prepared for that and keep reminding yourself of the benefits of your new routine. Above and beyond that, remember that all your effort and pain is worth it once you get the new habit in place.

10.  Rome Was Not Built in a Day

Start small. This is probably the most important part of this exercise and many traders often overlook this area. Small activities repeated frequently become small habits in the longer term. These are important because small habits, if in your favour, will lead to bigger and better trading habits. On the flip side, small but bad habits can also lead to bigger but worse trading habits.

For example, if you want to train for a marathon, you will very likely start running 5km jog before you move to a 10km run, and that’s before you move to even longer runs. Trading is not dissimilar. In fact, it is probably one of the best ways to start building new habits.


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