I’ve been fortunate enough to trade for a living since 2008, and I’ve learned a few things that will help you on your path to trading for a living. Without further ado, here are the 5 things you need to know about trading for a living:
1. It Is Possible
Too many failed traders and skeptics think that trading for a living is impossible. They cite their own failures or the failures of someone they know to back up their assertions and shoot down your dreams. Don’t let the insecurities and fears of someone else prevent you from striving to achieve your goal of trading for a living.
Think of being a professional trader like being a professional athlete. Of all the young kids who grew up playing sports, only a select few get to become professional athletes. These kids were the ones with some natural ability, an intense work ethic, and excellent coaching.
The same applies to trading. Of all the people who start out as budding traders, only a select few will have the work ethic and coaching necessary to succeed. Becoming a professional trader is difficult, but it is not impossible.
2. It Takes Time
Perhaps the most common question I get from aspiring traders is, “How soon will I be able to quit my job to trade for a living?” Even my own students are eager to trade larger position sizes before they’re truly ready. It takes time to develop the trading skills and market insight necessary to consistently profit as a day trader. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either misinformed or trying to sell you a get-rich-quick scheme.
You can’t rush the process of becoming a professional trader anymore than you can rush the process of becoming a doctor. A doctor must spend hours and hours studying so that he can understand the intricacies of the human body. Traders must also spend hours studying so that they can understand the intricacies of the market.
Don’t expect to quit your job to trade for a living a month after you begin trading. Those unrealistic expectations will cause you to rush your learning curve and will doom your chances of ever becoming a professional trader. Developing traders must exercise patience as their trading skills improve.
3. You Must Sustain Your Motivation
For many people, the most difficult part about trading for a living is sustaining the motivation necessary to overcome the frustrations and setbacks along the way. Without a boss telling you what to do, you may find it difficult to structure your learning process or to fight distractions during the trading day.
Like all self-employed people, traders can and will go through periods where they lack motivation. If you’re trying to learn trading while also working a regular job, you may find it difficult to find time for trading after a long day at work. Your motivation can ebb and flow with your energy level and your other responsibilities.
If you’re truly serious about trading for a living, you must find a way to power through these lapses in motivation to reach the next level. Here’s how I like to think about it: those difficult periods where you just can’t seem to find the will to continue are tests of how bad you really want to be a professional trader. Whenever I find myself lacking the motivation to study and get better, I remind myself of how much trading has given me and redouble my efforts to take my game up a notch.
4. You Can Be Consistently Profitable
One of the biggest worries from people striving to become professional traders is the consistency of trading results, and whether it’s possible to rely on trading profits to pay the bills. From my experience, I can say that it’s certainly possible to become a consistently profitable day trader.
The key to trading (and all other fields) is skill development. You will achieve the results commensurate with your level of trading skill. Novice traders can expect poor results, while expert traders can expect outstanding results. Think of the NBA – there’s a high likelihood that an All-Star player one season will be an All-Star again the next year.
This is not to say that you won’t have some bumps along the road. Even the best traders will go through prolonged stretches of under-performance. However, in the end, I truly believe that trading skills will win out and that the skilled trader can produce consistent profits. I’ve been living solely off my trading profits since 2008, and I haven’t missed a rent payment or been forced to panhandle yet!
5. You Should Plan For The Unexpected
While it is possible to be consistently profitable as a day trader, it does make sense to plan for the unexpected financially. Don’t be one of those traders who foolishly spends their trading profits as soon as they come in!
You should always sock away some money to prepare for periods when your trading isn’t going well or the market isn’t providing many trading opportunities. The stress reduction you’ll feel if you’re conservative with your finances will be liberating and will help your trading, knowing that you don’t have to push yourself just to pay the bills.
While trading for a living is definitely possible, there are some things you need to keep in mind on your journey to becoming a professional trader. First, you can’t rush the process, so be patient and diligent in your studying. Next, you must sustain your motivation through the highs and the lows (of which there’ll be many!) of trading without a boss telling you what to do. Finally, while it’s possible to consistently make money as a day trader, you should plan for the unexpected in terms of your finances for your own peace of mind. Remembering these tips will improve your chances of becoming a successful professional trader.