I like Jim Wyckoff’s New Year’s Resolutions; he notes if he follows these they can help him become a more profitable trader. Of course, "easier said than done." We’ve all violated these rules at one time or another.
He identifies 10 of the more prevalent mistakes traders make:
1. Failure to have a trading plan in place before a trade is executed. Without a specific plan, a trader does not know, among other things, when or where he will exit the trade or how much money may be made or lost.
2. Inadequate trading assets or improper money management. It does not take a fortune to trade the stock or futures markets successfully. Part of trading success boils down to proper money management and not gunning for those high-risk "home-run" type trades that involve too much capital at one time.
3. Expectations that are too high, too soon. Beginning traders who expect to quit their "day jobs" and make a good living trading in their first few years are usually disappointed. It takes hard work and perseverance to achieve success in any field of endeavor — and trading is no different.
4. Failure to use protective stops. Using protective buy or sell stops upon entering a trade provide a trader with a good idea of how much money he or she is risking on that particular trade, should it turn out to be a loser.
5. Lack of "patience" and "discipline." Don’t trade just for the sake of trading or just because you haven’t traded for a while. Let those very good trading "setups" come to you, and then act upon them in a prudent way
6. Trading against the trend — or trying to pick tops and bottoms in markets. It’s human nature to want to buy low and sell high (or sell high and buy low for short-side traders). Top-pickers and bottom-pickers are usually trading against the trend, which is a major mistake.
7. Letting losing positions ride too long. Most successful traders will not sit on a losing position for very long. Traders who sit on a losing trade "hoping" the market will soon turn in their favor are usually doomed.
8. "Overtrading." If losses are piling up, it’s time to cut back on trading, even though the temptation is to make more trades to recover the recently lost assets. It takes keen focus and concentration to be a successful trader.
9. Failure to accept complete responsibility for your actions. When you have a losing trade or are in a losing streak, don’t blame your broker or someone else. You are responsible for your own success or failure in trading. You make the decisions.
10. Not getting a bigger-picture perspective on a market. One can look at a daily bar chart and get a shorter-term perspective on a market or stock trend. But a look at the longer-term weekly or monthly chart for that same market can reveal a completely different picture. It is prudent to examine longer-term charts for that bigger-picture perspective when contemplating a trade.
Good stuff Jim — welcome suggestions any time of the year . . .
New Year’s Resolution: Avoid Traders’ Top 10 Mistakes
By Jim Wyckoff
1/2/2007 10:27 AM EST