Before you start trading, you need to design your trading system. And the basis for any well-designed system is to know what you want to achieve. Without specific goals and objectives, it’s difficult to succeed at any enterprise. It amazes me how often a person can hit their targets, meet their objectives, and reach their goals, when they’ve taken the time to write down what we want to achieve.
You need to have measurable, achievable goals. In trading, the primary objective is obviously to make money, but it is important to have other objectives that are not strictly cash-related. And remember, reward and risk go hand-in-hand when you are trading. You can’t achieve high returns without planning and bracing for high risks.
Your objectives and goals have to fit you if they are going to work, but they should also have the following characteristics to be useful. First they need to be measurable. If you can’t measure your results against your goals, how will you ever know if you’ve achieved them? Secondly, they need to be realistic and achievable. And make sure they are worth the time and effort you are going to put into them. Lastly, these should be positive goals. It’s easier to be successful when you are trying to do something, rather than to not do it.
If you know what you are trying to gain in your trading, and when you are trying to achieve it, the whole of your efforts will be focused on meeting your objectives. It focuses your attention on the things you really want to achieve with the time and resources that you have available. Having goals will also give you a way to effectively measure the success and progress of your trading strategy. It’s pretty clear why traders who have well-defined objectives are more successful than those that do not.
Once you have set measurable, achievable goals you need a way to meet them. Successful traders do this by being consistent and disciplined in their approach to trading. How do they make their approach consistent? By developing and following a carefully planned trading system. This is a system tailored to their trading style, as their goals are tailored to their preferences. Once you have your system in place, you need to follow it. The system will tell you when to enter a trade, where to set your stops, and when to exit. A good trader follows their system and does what it tells them to.
You need to be confident in your system, to have access to the right kind of technology and information, and to have the discipline to stick to your plan. Without a plan you will be trading on impulse, guided by emotions. There is no more reliable way to loose trades than by trading that way.