Maybe the same old good advice...but how come they do it again and again? Let's try to find the words: 1. Not having a plan - Without a plan, you are vulnerable to all kinds of emotions that make you act the wrong way at the worst moment. Before entering a trade, make sure you defined why you enter at this moment, the loss limit and the target. The trade must be part of a general strategy that you have tested and that will be applied over and over with consistency. If you are not sure about how to define and test a plan, you may follow a serious trading service and learn how to do it. A future post in this series is dealing with this issue. 2. Forgetting the plan! - Under pressure, the human brain creates all sorts of strains and ideas that are not all beneficial to trading, far from for it. The best way not to be swayed by events is to blindly stick to the plan like a robot. After all, you tested it and it held water, right? The plan is the psychological lifeline. 3. Wanting to be right. - Unfortunately for the smartest and most educated among us, trading is not about being right by virtue of one's reasoning. It is about being right by virtue of events. The most pragmatic will win. Willing to get it right every time would make you stay too long in a losing trade, and at the end you will exit at a cost anyway and probably at the worst time. Accept with humility to be wrong and to lose what you have budgeted,. It can be half of the time, or many times in a row, it does not matter. It is a game of probability and of statistical expectation, not a game of truth nor an academic test. 4. Not caring about money management. - Money is your tool and your raw material; it has to be carefully managed. The management rules are part of the famous trading plan. Decide what portion of the trading capital you will bet, meaning you are ready to lose, on each trade. It is typically between 0.5 and 2% depending on the experience and the type of operation. Then compute the size of the position accordingly. To learn how to make this calculation,see this post. This approach strongly diminishes the chances of running out of capital after a streak of losses. 5. Expecting an oversized return from each trade. - Observation shows that a very small percentage of trades have a high profitability. Most of the trades will be either losers, or modest winners. The aim is that modest winners overcome the losers. Then the rare home runs will be bonuses and make the overall results brilliant. But if you dream about a high return for each trade, you won't be swift enough to take moderate profits and you will end up having more losers than necessary. 6. Limiting the size of the gain. - Abiding to the previous advice, some traders are too quick to cut the trades as soon as they have a small gain and feel reassured when they book many, limited profits. But doing this, they refuse to expose themselves to the exceptional, "black swan" type of event that can really spice up their trading. Letting the profits run while limiting the losses with stop-loss order renders the trading game asymmetrical in you favor. There is no paradox between this advice and the previous one: do not expect a fantastic profit on any particular trade, but give yourself the chance to harvest such a profit if it presents itself. There are several trade management techniques for that. 7. Entertaining unrealistic expectations. - A direct consequence of what has just been said. Generally, you will be grinding and milling profits day after day, like a shop keeper. Don't think you will earn a living by going "all in" and raking the table. You may do this a couple of times, but the hard laws of probability make sure that you surely blow your account at some point. Think of your trading position as items you want to sell at a given price, with a margin. Then carefully collect the margins. 8. Not defining expectations according to the plan. - Obviously, there is a relation between the plan (see 1 and 2) and what you can expect. Always do a calculation, be it sketchy or very approximate, of which level of expectations is supported by the plan, using what you know from back-testing or practical experience. For an example of such a calculation see this post. 9. Looking for fun in trading. - If you trade in order to entertain yourself or for a thrill, or just because you are bored, you will lose. Good and profitable trading must be kind of boring, because then you just apply a pre-adopted plan. You separate execution from research and from strategy. Research on the trading plan may be and should be fun and thrilling, and this the pleasure moment. Then when execution begins, it is a business moment. What you enjoy when trading is not the effect of your smartness or your creativity: you enjoy being capable of applying a method with seriousness and discipline. Learn to pat yourself in the back just for being disciplined, even when the trade loses. It is a game of probability in the long run, not of being right (see 3) 10. Not reviewing what you have done. - Reviewing past trades serves two very distinct objectives. First, examining every trade, even the winners, is a way of checking to what extent you are applying the plan. In that respect you are controlling yourself. This must be done every week or even every day for the day traders. A second very different purpose is to evaluate not yourself, but the plan. No plan is ever perfect an each one can be slowly improved over time (but not radically transformed at every review!). Looking at the reasons why losing trades were such while the plan was applied may help you fine tuning some features (stop orders placement, profit targets...). Here the frequency of review is once a month, or less for day traders. Make changes to the plan only based on a review of several dozens trades.