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Trading Lessons from the book “The War of Art”: Turning Pro

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One of my goals for last month was to read the book, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Steven wrote the book for artists around the creation of art, highlighting the daily struggles and how to overcome them. However, the same applies to everyone. Anyone who is trying to do something worthwhile and stepping out of their comfort zone needs to read this book.

Over the next few weeks I will expand on each of the topics from the book individually. This week we’ll focus on the overall concept of “Turning Pro” and how it relates to trading.

Turning Pro

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So what does it take to Turn Pro in trading? Below are some of the things that Professionals do that make them successful and we can do as well to get the level of success we desire in our trading.

1. The professional shows up every day.

One of the biggest differences between professional and amateurs traders is that a professional trader shows up everyday. It is not his hobby but his profession. It is his job to be at his desk at a certain time, ready to trade.

If we aspire to become professional traders, we need to treat trading as our profession and make it our job to show up for trading. As Forex traders, we do have the flexibility to pick the session we trade. After that, it is our responsibility to show up for work and be present everyday. An amateur may think about how he feels that day and may decide to sleep in. A professional, on the other hand, shows up and does the work even he doesn’t feel like it.

2. The professional is prepared.

A professional trader does his homework and is prepared. He analyzes his charts, looks and the fundamantals, economic news and new feed etc. to prepare himself. He does this everyday whether he finds a trade-able opportunity or not.

A professional trader doesn’t just jump into trades whenever he feels like it. Instead, he marks the levels that would be good to trade, draws up his trade plan and waits for the setup to show up at these levels. He doesn’t get entranced by the candlesticks moving up and down. Instead he waits patiently for the right setup and when it shows up, he takes the trade without second guessing himself. He doesn’t jump into poor trades because of greed nor stay out of good trades due to fear. He knows what he’s looking for and why and takes the trades confidently, trusting his preparation. It’s this preparation that allows him to identify the best setups and capitalize on them.

Zig Ziglar: Success happens when opportunity meets preparation.

3. The professional seeks order

A professional trader is not a gun slinger from some Wild West movie. Instead, he is methodical and seeks order and structure in his world. Most amateur traders have trouble sticking to a plan and are always looking for something new. Give them a winning strategy and yet they’ll find a way to lose money.

A professional on the other hand keeps things simple. He knows that it’s the consistent implementation of a decent method or strategy that leads to results over the long term. He has daily/weekly/monthly routines that he creates and follows. He trusts his system and stays true to its rules. He does not make things up on the fly but instead follows his process methodically.

4. The professional is committed over the long haul

In Forex, we are sold a false dream. We see educators touting systems that can help people make millions overnight. Most people come into this field with wildly unrealistic expectations. We as traders take a couple of Forex courses and expect to become superstars overnight. We don’t expect to put in any of the hard work but believe that money would just flow into our accounts. Many traders don’t do any kind of testing on their system, don’t take the time to put a proper trade plan together or create good trading habits or routines. We forget about the other market participants and the level of their preparation. We forget there are banks and institutional traders on the other side of our trades who have teams of analysts doing market research and looking at every aspect of the market for them. You wouldn’t put a child in an NBA game against their best players, no matter his talent. He would get crushed.

A professional does not have any such wild misconceptions. He fully understands the arena he is playing in and the strength of his opponents. He, therefore, prepares to be in the game over the long haul. He shows up every day, does his work and is responsible with his account. He understands the risk he takes and manages his trades accordingly.

5. The professional does not hesitate to ask for help.

A professional is aware of his weaknesses and understands that everyone has blind spots. He is not afraid to ask for help. He does not fantasy him being the best in the world and above any need to learn. Even the very best athletes and CEOs in the world have coaches. Take Tiger Woods, for example. Even in his best years, he’s had a coach. Watch any of his games, he’ll take the shot and then look at this coach for feedback. He would not imagine playing at his best without coaching.

Professionals understand that to become really good and perform consistently they need some outside perspective. It’s hard to be objective when you’re in the middle of it. One has to take a step back to see the full picture.

One of the options is to work with a mentor like myself to get that outside perspective that can help you pivot and make changes. If you’re up for up-leveling your trading, I’d love to support you. Click here to contact me.

Another option is to get an accountability partner. This person can be your sounding board and provide critical feedback to help you trade better.

The overall message is that when you’re trying to do something worthwhile, there’ll be resistance, inner conflict and struggles along the way. However, if you make the commitment to take your craft seriously, you can get there.

Have you decided to turn pro? Leave your comments below and let me know.

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