If you want to best the best, you’ve got to emulate the best. Becoming a successful trader definitely doesn’t happen overnight, but there are habits you can establish now to set you on a path to becoming a top trader.
Traders are notoriously habit-driven and tend to perform the same actions every day for great results; here are five of the most important daily actions:
Get started early
No matter where you are in the world, your day as a trader starts at 9:30 Eastern, which means you need to be awake, alert, and informed before the morning bell. Successful traders get up hours before the market opens, go through their morning routines, and get to their workspace with time to spare. The best traders spend time catching up on late-breaking developments, including events that happened overnight. They also read a variety of analyses and reports from investment firms and major news sources to have a good idea of the state of the world and the economy. After all, you need to be well informed and have all the facts to make great trades. In the world of the best traders, things are set, organized, and ready before the action starts every morning.
Focus on actions, not emotions
Successful traders have personal lives, but they leave those things outside the office so they can focus clearly and not be distracted by other thoughts and issues. In fact, many of the best traders say it is because they have outside hobbies, family, and friends, they are better able to focus on work during work time. There may be a lot of factors in play with a trade, but the best traders know to focus on the problems that need to be solved instead of the emotions involved. If you focus on how you emotionally connect with a company or stock, it may cloud your judgment and lead to a bad business decision. Do your research, get the facts, and then made a clear, informed decision about what will lead to the best outcome.
Watch the ebb and flow
Successful traders recognize the waves in the market throughout the day and plan their trades and actions accordingly. While it is important to act quickly on certain trades, good traders see the value in observing the market daily, as well. Although nothing is ever certain, the best traders realize the trends that happen throughout the day. The first hour of trading can be tumultuous, so many traders choose to sit back and watch things shake out. Once things are settled, the trading picks up, and top traders know how to read the market to capitalize on a great trade. According to the ebb and flow of the market, most big traders find the best times to execute can be late morning and late afternoon. By observing the market as they make trades, traders can learn how the market moves and plan accordingly.
A lot can happen in the trading world over the course of a day, but disciplined traders have an organizational system and a method for everything they do. That’s not to say that everyone does the same thing, but rather that the best traders have perfected their own system that helps them meet their goals. Basic organization includes filing the right reports, following up on email and correspondence, and keeping a paper trail in a secure location. By nature, traders are detail-oriented and meticulous, and for the best traders, that comes through in their every action. From their workspace to their computer and files, an organized trader tends to equal a successful trader.
Successful traders know that preparation never stops. To stay at the top of their game, the best traders are always thinking of their next steps and what they can do to meet their goals and make the best trades. Successful traders don’t fly by the seat of their pants, but rather create detailed plans and schedules of what they need to do. To be a great trader, find the preparation schedule that works best for you. Many traders reflect on the day each evening before making a tentative plan for the next day; others wake up even earlier to reflect, plan, and prepare. They also always have a back-up plan or two in case things go south and practice their ability to analyze and execute in an orderly manner.
There are definitely differences in traders based on a variety of factors including industry, personality, and schedule, and the best traders know how to tailor their workday to maximize their skills and their time, but shadowing a day from market leaders can go a long way in helping establish habits and a schedule early in your career to set yourself up for success. No matter if you’re a rising star in the big trading world or an amateur hoping to ride the market from home, following in the steps of a successful trader can put you on the right path.