Originally appeared in April 2011
I would not change how my trading career has gone but if I had to do it all over again these are the things that I would do differently:
Pick an objective sooner.
I first was placing trades through my mentor. That meant that I could trade may be 2-3 times a week. He was busy trading or I could not afford to lose. At the time I was hanging around the CME learning to trade and working at night and weekends. I was saving everything I could. Once I finally had enough money for an account. I went crazy. I was efficient at trading a few times a week but I wanted to trade every move. It went great for a day and the second day gave it all back plus commission. I was scared to trade for awhile after that. I settled down and found out who I was slowly. Eventually I let the market dictate more of the way I traded. In the beginning, I let my emotions pick the type of trader I was going to be. You do not have to be right the first time, but the sooner you start eliminating the better.
Keep what you know.
I learned about everything I needed to learn about making money and losing money in my first two day. This is an over exaggeration but a majority of the lessons and traps occurred in those two days. I just was not in a position to learn anything. Your goal is to learn the most, the least costly. The less you spend the less you have to make to break even. I got paid a lot in psychological capital in those days. You can’t buy anything with that. My perception was so far off from reality that I was approaching reality from the other side. Recalling what happened when you are emotionally drunk is like trying to remember when you are blacked out. Write it down, do not guess.
I only saw their success, I saw where I was and where they were, not what it took to get there. These guys traded for only a few hours. They made their money and left. For the start of my career I just left with them as if I accomplished something. By the time I had my own account I was leaving after a few hours too but because I was limit down. I thought if I knew where the market was going I would make a bazillion dollars. There needs to be a combination of technical and/or fundamental analysis and psychological analysis. Those things were almost automatic for them, I had to figure it. Work hard and smart, work smarder.
Learn to take advice.
I was smarter than everyone else, I was better than everyone else, I was the exception. I was none of those things. When/if someone was willing to give me some advice and I did not believe them, I should have asked them more questions. I either knew too much or I was too embarrassed to admit I did not know anything. I was going to make all of those mistakes no matter what someone told me but I would have recognized them earlier. If I did not understand I should have written it down and revisited it.
Like I said there is nothing I would have changed but there are definitely things I would do differently. These lessons are what I will take with me for life.
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