Regrets are fine to have as long as you act on them.
Here is a list of common regrets that traders have had over the years and if you can identify them and work to avoid them going forward you can begin to see real progress in your trading results.
“I did exactly the wrong thing. The cotton showed me a loss and I kept it. The wheat showed me a profit and I sold it out. Of all the speculative blunders there are few greater than trying to average a losing game. Always sell what shows you a loss and keep what shows you a profit. “-Jesse Livermore
Any activity that involves gain also involves risk. Sometimes the risk takes over and you’re left with regrets. However, if you take a moment to look at what you regret specifically and look at your trading journal, you may be able to see exactly what you need to do to breakthrough and achieve the results you wanted in trading originally.
Trading regrets are not uncommon to most traders. Newer traders often ask themselves after a day of trading why they acted they way they did that allowed money to flow out of their account. If you’ve had trading regrets too, relax, there are simple answers you can put into practice to dramatically help your trading.
Can you trade without regrets?
I wouldn’t count on it. In fact, your regrets should be seen as a feedback provider and hopefully as your trading methodology matures, you should have finer tuned regrets as opposed to the beginner regrets like trade size or chasing a move. However, to lessen the emotionally damaging regrets some traders face, let’s cover the common ones so that you can work to avoid them.
Let discuss the Common Regrets trader make
- I wish I would have stuck to lesser leverage on that trade.
When you trade too large in relation to your account balance, it often reveals something about your view of the market that needs to be corrected. That improper view is that you can predict the future. Naturally, you cannot and trading an appropriate trade size can keep your emotions and mindset in check.
- I wish I would have Exited the Trade When the First Signal to Exit Arose
One of the difficulties of trading is that there are multiple forces at battle in any one moment. Many traders who are buying are able to see why a trade should continue going up even though a major trend line has broken. Traders who are short on the other hand likely see a similar number of reasons why the trend should continue down. Either way, it may be helpful to try and see the trade from the other side’s perspective to neutralize your view so you don’t stubbornly hold on to a losing trade.
- I wish I would have waited for the set-up to materialize before chasing that move
You’ll often hear that traders are tossed back and forth between two emotions. Unfortunately, I think that it is more like one emotion with two heads. That one emotion is fear and traders fear not catching a move and fear closing out a trade and admitted a loss which is a normal part of trading. The best way to get rid of a fear in trading is to admit that you have control over your trades as to whether you get in and out and that you alone decide your trade size and stop amount while at the same time not fully knowing what tomorrow will bring.
- I wish I would have closed out at a 2% loss as opposed to a 20% loss.
A breakthrough in my trading came from the realization that success doesn’t boil down to know what is going to happen next in order to make it in this business. In fact, traders who had a high win percentage but were unwilling to cut the few losers they had stood a worse chance of success than a newer trader with an inferior system that is willing to get out of a bad trade early. Another helpful note is to fear your losses getting bigger than they currently are to give you a proper view of the risk of the market.
Regrets Should Turn Into Your Trading Rules
Once you’ve clearly identified your top 3 regrets, you have something to work with. Specifically, you can turn the antithesis of your regrets into trading rules. This will do two things that will benefit you:
First, you trading regrets are due to trading behavior that causes you pain. Therefore, identifying your regrets and making sure that you’re not duplicating behaviors that cause your painful regrets will make trading less stressful. Secondly, your regrets are due to behaviors that are resulting in losses or else they wouldn’t be regrets so by identifying and taking the opposite action, you will likely plug the hole in your trading plan that is draining your account equity.