Every year millions of people are making New Years resolutions and most of them are not even kept beyond the first week. For traders, resolutions are very important, or at least the establishing of new goals and expectations of one's self in lieu of the trading year ahead This vastly important to the improvement and sustainability of one's trading career. So, I've gone through all my trades of the past year, both good and bad ones, and have a number areas that I believe that I can improve upon. Some of them you may think, "I can't believe he struggles with that!" or perhaps you may have expected goals with more in-depth meaning. Fact of the matter is, often times what traders struggle with are so simple in nature, that the only thing that stands in the way of avoiding those bad habits is one's self, in the form of discipline.
So here are my goals or resolutions, should you call it that, and we'll see by year's end how I faired in each of these areas.
1. Do a better job of keeping winners from turning into losers. Reviewing my trades from the past year, I had a number of trades that I held on to longer than I should have, and as a result ended up taking a loss that should never have happened. The main reason for this being that small profits were being overlooked, with the expectation of something bigger, and in the end I had a number of trades that could have been closed at a profit, albeit a small one, but much better than the loss that was the eventual outcome.
2. Exercise more! I've spent too long in front of my computer blogging and trading, that it has taken a toll on me physically - not so much from a weight standpoint, but from being in shape. I hate running, but I do enjoy sports like tennis, basketball, football, and others - and need to treat this as important as my daily trading plans - because the state of any one's physical health can grossly effect their trading ability without even knowing it. Exercise helps keep the mind sharp.
3. Practice more precision on my entries into trades. I've put in a lot of safeguards last year to enable me to do a better job, while I'm never going to be perfect, I can avoid the bad trades by being a little bit more disciplined in this area.
4. Avoid stocks that have a less than desirable setup, simply because of its "high-Flyer" status. I found myself at times last year justifying certain trades because of the recent past returns on those stocks, and the euphoria surrounding them. Namely AAPL, BIDU and NFLX. Treat them just like any other stock, and avoid getting married to the name.
5. Avoid hedging due to market uncertainty, particularly with ETF's (SPY, QQQQ, etc.). Rather focus on current positions and manage/reduce risk in the portfolio where it is necessary. Hedging with these market ETF's can create more good than bad.
6. Avoid complacency and better recognize when I'm attempting to trade out of boredom. Rather work with what the market gives me: Not a huge problem for me, but I have from time to time, gotten into trades, that I didn't have a real reason, based on current market conditions, to be in.
7. Better Organize my watch-lists and use my alert system more efficiently.
8. Increase the amount of time I spend reading trading books - with blogging, trading, managing my fund, along with being a husband and father, it is easy, like staying in shape, for this to not get the attention that it needs.
9. Stay always within my style of trading and avoid trading strategies that drift outside of my style and personality.
10. Spend more time Reading the Bible each day. What in the world does this have to do with trading? Good question - I'm a Christian and follow my faith very closely - when I am trading, it is easy to get an inflated view of myself in the grand scheme of things, and think I am somebody that I'm not (and pride always comes before the fall). Reading the Bible, and spending time in prayer, helps me to manage my emotions in trading better, keep a more level-headed view of myself and simply to help me be thankful for what I have and the blessings that I have been given.
and of course...
11. Maximize my profits in 2011.