Interestingly enough, I’m seeing some similarities between trading and photography, my latest hobby. Sure, I’ve learned the fancy schmancy technical aspects, fiddled with the lenses, and figured out how to adjust the shutter speed and aperture. But, judging from the photos I’ve taken so far, all that textbook knowledge ain’t enough to make me good photographer.
It still amazes me how pros are able to produce awesome pictures from otherwise ordinary subjects. It probably took them tons of practice to know how to adjust camera settings to use the current lighting, background, or environment to their advantage. Even then, there are no hard and fast rules for each situation. Similarly, in trading, one has to learn to gauge market sentiment, listen to what the charts are saying, and adjust accordingly.
More often than not, it’s also about getting the timing right. That’s why intuition plays a huge role. Not to be confused with taking impulsive trades based on gut feel, trading demands a special type of intuition that many refer to as “feeling the market” or “being in the zone.”
I’m talking about that specific point in your trading career wherein you have gained enough experience to label market behavior (trending, ranging, breaking out, or consolidating) and know what trading setup you will take to tilt the odds slightly in your favor.
• You noticed that the market is trending, so you used moving averages.
• You noticed that the market is retracing, so you use Fibonacci retracement levels.
• You noticed that the market is ranging, so you mainly use support and resistance levels.
• You noticed that the market is consolidating, so you wait for a break out.
Did you just turn psychic? Did this just magically happen? Heck no! Just like in any other art form, some are born with the natural talent while others acquire the skill. Either way, you arrived at this point because of constant refinement and deliberate practice.
Through these actions, you have learned to trust yourself and observe the market in an analytical and “artful” way, and not merely by guessing. You have found out that trading is more of an art than an exact science, and that there really is no clear “signal” or set of rules that indicate that the market environment has changed.
For those who have yet to reach this point, here are a few words for ya’ll…
Getting in the zone does not happen overnight. It takes time. Just like in photography, where it takes tons of practice to get the perfect shot, trading requires watching the charts every now and then before you get to the point where you can instinctively “feel the market.”
This experience is necessary because it will help you understand why the market is behaving the way it is. It isn’t enough to go through the manual and learn all the technical aspects. At some point, you need to put all this knowledge to work and try it out for yourself. By exposing yourself to the markets, you can gain the skills necessary to gauge market conditions and in the end, come up with your own conclusions.