December 03, 2010 at 8:07 am | | Comments 5

Trade Like You Don’t Need the Money

trader-focusThe post title says a lot, and we could probably all tape the phrase to our monitors and come away better traders.

But let’s spend a few minutes digging a little deeper to find what it would mean to “trade like you don’t need the money.”  What does that look like?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of approaching your trading with this mentality?

Let’s start off by looking at some examples of people who have experienced massive success in their respective fields.  That isn’t by accident, and they sure didn’t quit once they got “rich.”

Professional athletes in general make a lot of money.  Many of them spend more than they make, so we’ll discard those for the sake of this discussion.  There are a few superstars in every sport though, and with the global coverage most sports tend to get, they’re household names.  Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and the list goes on.  Having an 8- or 9-figure net worth is not what drives them…it’s greatness.  They find fulfillment in preparing and performing in such a way that they’re the best.

There are musicians who have had the same kind of success.  One of the most popular bands in the world is U2, and they had “arrived” many years ago in terms of popularity and revenue from album sales and concerts.  But they kept going, kept evolving, and kept on succeeding.  It’s not the money that pushes them, or else they’d have walked away long ago.

Think Record Books, Not Scoreboard

As traders, it’s so easy to become motivated by the money.  Our P&L is the scoreboard that’s always right in front of us…during the day, and once the closing bell rings.  We know where we stand at any moment, and that’s actually more of a hindrance to many than it is a help.

Some platforms allow you to hide profit & loss numbers, and that’s a band-aid solution which some choose to do in order to focus better on the price action and less on profits.  But rather than try to treat the symptoms, why not go right to the source of the problem – your mindset.

To trade like you don’t need the money, your goals and passion have to be centered on something much bigger than money…and bigger than what that money can buy you.  Your satisfaction from trading needs to be rooted in the process of attaining success.

That means you care about digging for great ideas more than booking a $1500 winner.  You know if you do the former well, the latter will take care of itself.

It means you love turning off your screens at the end of the day knowing you followed your rules with discipline.

It means your undivided attention is on the market when it’s time to trade, and distractions aren’t allowed to interfere.

It means you’ll spend time doing things others won’t, like watching trading film (hat tip to @smbcapital) in order to recognize your mistakes as well as reinforce and mentally rehearse your strengths.

It means you follow other traders’ blogs and StockTwits streams only when their ideas are suited to your trading style, and you avoid all else because it becomes noise.

And it means you fuel your competitive drive day in and day out to focus on winning and nothing else.  That brings with it a host of other issues, like staying out late or treating your body well, because you care about peak performance.

Trading like you don’t need the money requires passion for what you’re doing that exceeds all hopes for monetary gain.  It’s a mentality of maturity whereby you realize that truly great trading will provide you with all you need and then some, and once you’ve fully accepted that, you’re able to let go of the monetary concerns and completely center your efforts on improving your process.

Put your strengths to work today with total focus, and just see what happens.  If you’ll do it for a week, then a month, and build on it each day, you’ll be implementing habits which deliver all kinds of ongoing success – including money.

** If you’ve got something else to add, please share it in the comments.

Trade Like a Bandit!

Jeff White
Producer of The Bandit Broadcast

Are you following me on Twitter yet?

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  1. Jeff,

    I agree with your philosophy.

    But I must add one warning: Remember that it is real money and not Monopoly money. Otherwise it becomes too tempting to take foolish risk in an attempt to achieve that high level of success.

  2. Thanks Mark for chiming in, I always appreciate it.

    I should clarify that I don’t see that high level of success being of the overnight variety. It takes time, so it’s something to build towards. Making it a habit to focus on doing the proper things right, rather than riding excitement over a good day/week/month or beating yourself up over a frustrating phase will keep any trader on a long-term uptrend. You’re correct though, it is real money and on the loss side that’s particularly important to respect.


  3. Excellent article!…really it comes down to Don’t let Money Control you…

  4. Great article. And you’re have to have a passion for trading. The market can be very humbling and if you don’t have a passion then you will get worn out and quit. You constantly have to refine your trading plan and analyze your trades. It can be mentally tiring at times but if you love to trade and keep your goals in mind you will be miles ahead of most “traders” out there.

  5. Thanks Micah, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts. And you’ve nailed another key ingredient, which is passion. Only those who have it will he humble enough to continually learn and make those adjustments the market is telling them to make. Good point, thanks again!

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