The Key to Successful Trading, the Key to Successful Living

by Darrin Donnelly on September 15, 2011

Life will throw many problems our way, but it also has a tendency to shower us with unexpected gifts.  The market does the exact same.

The key is how we manage these ups and downs, ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, bubbles and crashes.

How does one manage to surf life’s waves?  How does a good trader mange to successfully surf the market’s waves?

I read a short little book of advice called Before I Go.  It’s written by Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor at Boston College.  Kreeft is the prolific author of dozens of books on philosophy and theology, but Before I Go is his advice on life; the lessons he’d like to leave his children with.

One paragraph stood out to me as particularly helpful for anyone trying to lead a successful life, traders especially.  I’ll quote it here (it was written as one paragraph, but I’ll break up some of the lines for added emphasis):

Life is made of waves.  (Everything is.)  It comes in crests and troughs.

It’s easy to ride the crests; the real test is the troughs.  

Expect them.  Ride them out.  That’s part of our job description.  

Imagine a fire fighter who was surprised, angry, and resentful every time the fire alarm rang.


That last line really stands out to me as a trader.

So often, we see traders who act surprised, angry, and resentful when they get stopped out of a trade or when a major trend shifts on them.

But topping stocks and shifting trends are a fact of trading.  No stock goes up forever and no trend stays endlessly steady

I’ve seen traders get angry when they are stopped out of a trade they gained something like 30% on.  Why the anger?  Because they wish they would’ve exited the trade when they were up 35%.

Every good trade and every good trend comes to an end.  The successful traders understand this and EXPECT this.  They don’t resent it when it happens; they immediately shift their focus to profiting from the shift.

Ride the waves of the market (and life) with poise, confidence, optimism, and realistic expectations.

It’s easy to succeed during the “peaks,” but having a detailed game plan for success during the “valleys” is what makes a successful (and happy) trader.


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