The Key to Successful Trading? Stay Cool, Calm and Collected

Thousands of traders based all over the world share exactly the same dream – success. Of course, exactly how successful they want or expect to become is something that differs greatly from one trader to the next. Nevertheless, if there was a single, proven and effective key to succeeding in online trading, chances are it’s one they’d all be following.

Along with the technical aspects of trading, much of the recipe for success is based on the personality of the trader. Depending on the type of person you are and your approach to trading, you can expect entirely different results than a trader with a personality the exact opposite of yours. If this is all getting a little confusing, not to worry – we’re basically just building up to the key point of this article.

Water Off a Duck’s Back
Ask any trader at the highest level and they will tell you exactly the same thing. In order to be the very best trader you can be, nothing matters more than keeping emotions well and truly out of the picture. Which is of course something that is often easier said than done. After all, anyone who takes a serious pounding on a trade they genuinely believed was a 100% dead-cert isn’t likely to throw a party to celebrate their loss. But at the same time, a successful trader will know how to walk away from these kinds of losses, having perfected the classic ‘water off a duck’s back’ approach.

Now, the problem here is of course the fact that when we are talking about personality, we are talking about you as a person. Education and training are all well and good, but it’s not as if any of us are able to snap our fingers and immediately change our character or personality in an instant. As such, there will always be traders who are considerably more hot-tempered and emotional than others, who may find the whole cool, calm and collected approach idealistic at best. Nevertheless, the more you keep your emotions under control, the better trader you will become as a result.

Which is why for this piece, we thought we’d share with you just a few tried, tested and effective ideas for clearing your head and getting in the game, in order to improve your talents as a trader:



While it may seem somewhat counterproductive, one of the very best ways of getting yourself in a relaxed, focused and collected mood is by indulging in some kind of exercise. And we’re not just talking about a quick walk around the block either – we mean real, energetic exercise like an hour at the gym. Exercise results in the release of endorphins, which are absolutely great for clearing the mind, reducing anxiety and generally making you feel great. In addition, research suggests that exercising while listening to music is even more beneficial, having a unique and valuable effect on the brain. If possible therefore, try timing your trading activities to fall slightly after planned exercise – especially if you plan on trading early morning for the full day ahead.

Of course, this is bound to divide opinion as people these days either tend to swear by meditation or roll their eyes in boredom at the thought of it. But regardless of whether or not you actually read into the whole spiritual side of meditation, simply sitting there in silence with your eyes closed and taking the time to escape reality for a short while really can make all the difference in the world. It’s basically a form of deep and meaningful relaxation, where the only distractions are your very thoughts themselves. That being said, this kind of preparatory activity is only of any real use if you are able to successfully clear your mind and switch off. If the thoughts and concerns doing circles in your mind are simply driving you insane, this might not prove a particularly effective approach!

Talk it Out
You know how they say a problem shared is a problem halved? In reality, there is actually way more to it than this. Sometimes, discussing absolutely anything whatsoever with someone else is the best way of both coming to a decision and gaining real confidence in your decision. Not only this, but allowing someone else to provide their own unique perspective on whatever it is you are thinking about could well help you see things from an entirely different vantage point. It’s not about getting too deep and talking about the troubles of your childhood – it’s simply a case of gaining valuable external insight.

Keep a Journal 

Experts always advise traders at all levels to maintain a journal, documenting their trading activities and all other relevant information. Nevertheless, it can also be beneficial to keep a separate journal to be used for recording more personal thoughts, experiences and emotions. It can be surprisingly therapeutic to write things down in this way, even if you are fundamentally aware of the fact that nobody will ever read it. You can hang onto the entries yourself if you like or you can erase them from existence the moment there are committed to paper. Either way, it’s a quick and easy way of purging the kinds of thoughts you’d probably rather get rid of, rather than have them hanging around and influencing your trading activities for the day ahead.

Get More Sleep
The word ‘sleep’ is one that many traders at higher levels see as evil and will only ever consider as an afterthought. Depending on your own particular trading style and preferences, it may be necessary for you to work rather unusual and antisocial hours, which cut into your sleep habits. The only problem being that every single physical and psychological process in the entire human body is fundamentally dependent on healthy sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you cannot and will not perform to your maximum potential – it really is as simple as that. Lack of sleep clouds judgment, leads to poor decision-making and generally makes you a less competent trader. So while there’s much to be said for showing bravado and putting sleep behind your trading activities, doing so on a regular basis isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Get Organised 

If you’re the kind of person that’s prone to becoming flustered and a little on the skittish side, there’s nothing worse than a total lack of organisation. For so many traders the world over, the standard scene in the home office is akin to somebody taking a bunch of books and journals, attaching firecrackers and letting them blast all over every inch of the room. Suffice to say, a mess. Even if you don’t think it bothers you, on a subconscious level it is so much more difficult to focus, concentrate and remain committed to the task at hand if you are working in a pigsty. And just as an added bonus, cleaning and getting yourself organised in general also has the potential to be somewhat therapeutic!

Get Social
Another extremely effective way of remaining in control and putting on a brave face in the face of adversity is to take your trading in a somewhat social direction. Perhaps have a friend or family member join you for a trading session to show them what you do, maybe even get them interested in signing up and getting started for themselves. When things become something of a team effort, they instantly become significantly more enjoyable – particularly if wins are celebrated together and the pain of losses shared.

Change the Scenery

Assuming you are already trading from a remote location – i.e. your home – there’s absolutely nothing to stop you taking your computer and indulging in whatever trading takes your fancy from an entirely different location. A park on a sunny day, your favourite pub with a pint, a random coffee-shop you’ve never been to before – any and all of the above can set the scene for an enjoyable trading experience. This can be especially useful if you have been going through something of a rough patch, given the way in which you may have subconsciously started to associate the home office with failure.

Take a Holiday
Last but not least, you absolutely need to ensure that from time to time, you switch off your brain and forget that trading is a thing. One of the biggest mistakes made by so many traders is the way in which even during downtime, they find themselves constantly watching the markets, accessing their accounts by way of mobile devices or beating themselves up with regard to opportunities they may or may not have missed. While it’s true to say that commitment pays off, there is also very much such a thing as burnout. And if you don’t give yourself sufficient time to rest and recuperate as necessary, there’s a good chance burnout is exactly what will happen during your next session. Taking a holiday doesn’t necessarily mean having to take a trip – it simply means taking a holiday from trading itself for a while.


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