Knowing how to control emotions while trading can prove to be the difference between success and failure. Your mental state has a significant impact on the decisions you make, particularly if you are new to trading, and keeping a calm demeanor is important for consistent trading. In this piece, we explore the importance of day trading psychology, for both beginner and more experienced traders, and give some pointers on how to trade without emotions.
The Importance of Controlling Emotions While Trading
The importance of day trading emotional control cannot be overstated.
Imagine you’ve just taken a trade ahead of Non-Farm Payrolls (NFP) with the expectation that if the reported number is higher than forecasts, you will see the price of EUR/USD increase quickly, enabling you to make a hefty short-term profit.
NFP comes, and just as you had hoped, the number beats forecasts. But for some reason, price goes down!
You think back to all the analysis you had done, all the reasons that EUR/USD should be going up – and the more you think, the further price falls.
As you see the red stacking up on your losing position, emotions begin to take over – this is the ‘Fight or Flight’ instinct.This impulse can often prevent us from accomplishing our goals and, for traders, this issue can be very problematic, leading to knee-jerk reactions.
Professional traders don’t want to take the chance that a rash decision will damage their account – they want to make sure that one knee-jerk reaction doesn’t ruin their entire career. It can take a lot of practice, and many trades, to learn how to minimize emotional trading.
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The 3 Most Common Emotions Traders Experience
Some of the most common emotions traders experience include fear, nervousness, conviction, excitement, greed and overconfidence.
A common cause of fear is trading too big. Trading with improper size magnifies volatility unnecessarily and causes you to makemistakes you normally wouldn’t make if you weren’t under the stress of risking larger losses than normal.
Another culprit for fear (or nervousness) is you are in the ‘wrong’ trade, meaning one that doesn’t fit your trading plan.
Conviction and excitement are key emotions you’ll want to feed off, and you should feel these in every trade you enter. Conviction is the final piece of any good trade, and if you don’t have a level of excitement or conviction then there is a good chance you are not in the ‘right’ trade for you.
By ‘right’ we mean the correct trade according to your trading plan. Good trades can be losers just as bad trades can be winners. The idea is to keep yourself winning and losing on only good trades. Making sure you have conviction on a trade will help ensure this.
If you find yourself only wanting to take trades that you deem as possible big winners, you could be getting greedy. Your greed may have been the result of doing well, but if you aren’t careful you may slip and end up in a drawdown.
Always check that you are using proper trade mechanics (i.e. sticking to stops, targets, good risk/management, good trade set-ups). Sloppy trading as a result of overconfidence can end a strong run.
Learn more about managing greed and fear while trading.
DailyFX Analyst Nick Cawley on Losing Discipline
Nick Cawley has more than 20 years’ experience in the markets and trades a variety of fixed-income products.
“My worst trades – and there have been a few of them – have all been when my best laid plans are thrown out of the window when I lose discipline.