Why Traders Lose Their Discipline

By | June 16, 2014
  • Environmental distractions and boredom cause a lack of focus – All of us have limits to our attention span and these are easily taxed during quiet times in the market;
  • Fatigue and mental overload create a loss of concentration – The demands of watching the screen hour after hour make it difficult to be sharp, creating fatigue effects that are well-known to pilots, car drivers, and soldiers;
  • Overconfidence follows a string of successes – It is common for traders to attribute success to skill and failure to situational, external factors.  As a result, a string of even random wins can lead traders to become overconfident and veer from trading plans–especially by trading too frequently and/or trading excessive size;
  • Unwillingness to accept losses – This leads traders to alter their trade plans after trades have gone into the red, turning what were meant to be short-term trades into longer-term holds and transforming trades with small size into large trades by adding to losers;
  • Loss of confidence in one’s trading plan/strategy because it has not been adequately tested and battle-tested– It is difficult to tolerate even normal drawdowns unless you have confidence in your methods.  This confidence does not come from mere positive self-talk.  Rather, it is a function of testing your methods (historically and in real-time) and seeing in your own experience that they truly work;
  • Personality traits that lead to impulsivity and low frustration tolerance in stressful situations – Psychological research suggests that some individuals are more impulsive than others and less conscientious about adhering to plans and intentions.  These personality traits often are accompanied by stimulation-seeking and a high degree of risk tolerance: a deadly combination.
  • Situational performance pressures – These include trading slumps and increased personal expenses that change how traders trade and lead them to place P/L ahead of making good trades.  By worrying too much about how much money they make, traders can no longer follow markets with a clear head;

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