Setting goals for yourself when it comes to your performance in the financial markets might not be as straightforward and simple as you may imagine.
It's essential to set a goal whenever you're working towards something in life, otherwise how will you ever know if you've achieved it? Goals can be motivating and are often really helpful in keeping you on the right track to achieving success.
However, it's just as important to spend time ensuring the goals are meaningful rather than purely inspirational and spur of the moment thoughts. Things that are actually going to help you reach a desired outcome and monitor your progress towards achieving it.
For example, when you set goals for your trading/investing progress, have you ever relied on statements along the lines of "I want to become more profitable" or "I want to open more great trades?".
I have to hold my hands up to that one, I've used goals like that in the past - most traders have! Unfortunately, these sort of blanket statements just fall into the category of 'easier said than done'.
We need to get more specific. We all set these blank goals in life. We set ourselves these vague goals often. Saying I want to be a profitable trader is just like saying I want to be able to run a marathon or I want to get all A’s in university.
To be able to truly achieve your trading and personal goals you need to get specific and consistent with your goal setting.
Setting the right goals
Each of us has different strengths, weaknesses, and past experiences that affect our trading. Some may be highly risky traders as they have not yet encountered a reality check by Mr. Market others may be risk averse. We all have different areas we need to work on in our trading approach if we want to progress and succeed in the markets to become profitable traders.
By using a blank statements about our overall trading, we're not really going to be measuring progress in the areas that really matter to us individually.
Rather than setting goals and measuring our success based on improvements only in our P&L, we should be identifying points that are holding us back and find an appropriate measure that shows progress in that specific area.
Many traders need to focus on their risk management (which I believe is the key to a long career in the markets) setting specific goals such as no more than 2% per trade or after 3 losing trades walking away from the screens. Stopping to trade when you feel that you will over trade or start revenge trading. If this is something you struggle with get some help! Invest in your education here with A1 Trading
Other traders may need to focus on not jumping the gun! Not entering into trades too fast, not checking macro-economic data or not looking at the economic calendar to see if there is high volatility news due, as we all know trading before major news releases is very risky.
By doing that, it will help us to focus our development plan in a way that's meaningful and encourage trading in a way that's more sustainable. Things that avoid us being tempted into risky approaches in an attempt to hit profit targets, without any improvements actually being made to our ability.
What's your ratio ?
To help put this in to practical terms, there's a quote from the book 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins that has always resonated with me. It's intended to apply to business, but I think it can also be adapted to apply to trading or any other area of your life you're hoping to improve.
"If you could pick one & only one ratio - profit per _____ - to systematically increase over time, what _____ would have the greatest and most sustainable impact on your economic engine?"
That's definitely something to really focus when making realistic goals regarding your trading. The word 'sustainable' is key here - we don't want to hit a profit target for the sake of it, but instead we want to see an improvement in our approach to the financial markets in a steady & sustainable way. Improvements that lead to dependable and repeatable returns in the market, not a one-hit wonder.
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