You Don’t Have to Win Every Battle, Just the War.

It’s easy to get caught up in daily defeats, isn’t it? Your forex trading strategy isn’t working. You’re losing money hand over fist even though you know your system works over the long-term and you’re following all the rules.  If you aren’t careful, you could let it discourage you, allowing negative thoughts like giving up, feeling like a failure, or thinking you’ll never make it as a trader creep into your psyche.

Unfortunately, it does happen to us all, so when you are discouraged by everyday setbacks, it’s crucial to keep your eye on the big picture: you could be losing a battle here and there, but you may end up winning the war.

Many traders make the mistake of letting their feelings of worth be determined by everyday trading results.  You think, “If I make profits today, and every day this week, I’m doing well. But if I end up losing most days, then I’m doing horrible!”

This kind of thinking is based on how people view compensation for a conventional 9-to-5 job. You put in your 40 hours, do a good job, and you get paid handsomely. You feel good for working diligently and productively for the week.

But when you trade forex, you will not always receive sufficient compensation for your efforts–that’s just how the game works. When you don’t reach the profit goals you set, you can feel as if you didn’t get paid enough for your efforts.

It’s going to be tough, but as a trader, you must avoid thinking in these conventional terms. An extremely productive week of trade journaling or backtesting may produce ZERO profits. When you are trying to achieve a certain level of income in a given timeframe, you are setting “performance goals” that you may not be able to achieve.

A better kind of goal to set is a “learning goal.”

You may not be able to achieve a particular performance goal during a given week; that is, you may not always be able to achieve a particular dollar amount, but you can achieve a particular learning goal.

Every day you trade, you gain valuable experience regarding how you approach the markets. You see various setups and learn how they can or can’t lead to a profitable trade. Don’t undervalue these learning experiences.

Every day, you are achieving learning goals. Your daily efforts may not directly lead to profits, but indirectly, they do add to your wealth of experiences. You may only win a battle here and there, but when you add up the battles you do win, over the long haul, you end up mastering the markets, and winning the war in the end.

If you merely focus on how much money you make as a trader, and use a conventional payment schedule, you’ll work your butt off but fail to get the conventionally defined “paycheck” you expect, and feel ripped off. But if you define your paycheck in unconventional terms as the amount of experience you gained, you’ll feel rewarded for making a series of trades, profitable or not, and feel you’ve accomplished something.

And regardless of how much money you actually make, you will have indeed accomplished something: You will have further honed your trading skills.

In the grand scheme of things, winning these minor battles will help you win the war. You’ll master the markets and become a winning, profitable seasoned trader.

  • Janos Fejos

    Thank you! This post made me keep on trading. My whole family is saying to get a decent 9 hour job and be cool with the boss. I told them I’d rather be happy trading. This is exactly how I feel.

  • marlo

    A great lesson to be learnt here. Thank you for those inciteful words.

    Marlo

  • MaoriPip

    Well said. I will be honest in saying that I am on my 3rd attempt at a live account and only this time am I slowly making my way to success. I may have lost money the first few times but the experience I gained trading live helped me realise the effort that needs to go into trading. Now when I lose I do not consider it a bad day and I can move on. With emotions aside, I have had a great year thus far.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • marlo

    A great lesson to be learnt here. Thank you for those inciteful words.

    Marlo

  • TraderBoy

    This post is worth more than meets the eye. For awhile, i did gauge my success in terms of monetary gains. However, that wasn’t necessarily the correct chronological way of looking at it. Now i realize that there is no substitute for trading experience, discovering a system that fits you and fine-tuning it, all of which i am currently in the midst of. I am beginning to realize that experience, a sense of the market, proper discipline and money management should be sought after first. Having enough discipline to properly execute a trade and follow through with a system is a valuable trait that must be obtained. Once those have been achieved, then profits can follow.

  • devyshka

    TraderBoy – Very well put! I don’t care how many times we hear the information on this post, we always need to hear it again.

  • drpipslow

    Thanks for the kind comments. :)

  • MaoriPip

    Well said. I will be honest in saying that I am on my 3rd attempt at a live account and only this time am I slowly making my way to success. I may have lost money the first few times but the experience I gained trading live helped me realise the effort that needs to go into trading. Now when I lose I do not consider it a bad day and I can move on. With emotions aside, I have had a great year thus far.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • TraderBoy

    This post is worth more than meets the eye. For awhile, i did gauge my success in terms of monetary gains. However, that wasn’t necessarily the correct chronological way of looking at it. Now i realize that there is no substitute for trading experience, discovering a system that fits you and fine-tuning it, all of which i am currently in the midst of. I am beginning to realize that experience, a sense of the market, proper discipline and money management should be sought after first. Having enough discipline to properly execute a trade and follow through with a system is a valuable trait that must be obtained. Once those have been achieved, then profits can follow.

  • devyshka

    TraderBoy – Very well put! I don’t care how many times we hear the information on this post, we always need to hear it again.

  • drpipslow

    Thanks for the kind comments. :)

  • comfibold

    Words of wisdom from everyone. Thank you.

  • comfibold

    Words of wisdom from everyone. Thank you.

  • jibs_com

    Inspiring guys, thanks for the info. It means a lot to newbies like us.

  • jibs_com

    Inspiring guys, thanks for the info. It means a lot to newbies like us.

  • JasonW

    Since I’m such a terrible trader, I defaulted to this mindset almost instantly. Otherwise there would be no gratification in my trades. But I learn a massive amount every time.

  • JasonW

    Since I’m such a terrible trader, I defaulted to this mindset almost instantly. Otherwise there would be no gratification in my trades. But I learn a massive amount every time.

  • segxy007

    experience is the best teacher,market will always teach u how to trade.i learn everyday.

  • segxy007

    experience is the best teacher,market will always teach u how to trade.i learn everyday.

  • Joseajm

    This is a very helpful piece of advise for trading. I just would add that one of the things that cause a lot of stress to newbies is lack of knowledge. Proper basic training is vital to get started well in FX. Knowledge will dissipate a lot of emotional reactions to positive and negative situation during trading (greed or aversion). Therefore, emotional control will focus on learning and developing good self-control techniques (such as attention to breathing to keep emotions down and concentration up). Thanks Dr Pipslow!

  • drpipslow

    A good point added by Joseajm. Competence is important.

  • drpipslow

    A good point added by Joseajm. Competence is important.

  • chargr_fan

    I totally agree with you about the learning aspect of trading. I am a freshly green newbie and YEARS from ever thinking about being a daytrader. I trade a little here and there for a few hours on my day off. A few gains – a few losses. But I take both in small increments right now so that I can take what I’ve done and come back to babypips. I try to learn what I did right, what I did wrong, and what my readings mean. I do this, not for the money, but for the knowledge and experience. Sure, I only make a few dollrs here and there, but maybe in a year I’ll make gains consistently enough to take over one of my household bills. Then maybe in ten or fifteen years, be able to trade daily. But I know all the while, I’m going to have to be learning about how to reach that “big picture”. Thanks!!

  • chargr_fan

    I totally agree with you about the learning aspect of trading. I am a freshly green newbie and YEARS from ever thinking about being a daytrader. I trade a little here and there for a few hours on my day off. A few gains – a few losses. But I take both in small increments right now so that I can take what I’ve done and come back to babypips. I try to learn what I did right, what I did wrong, and what my readings mean. I do this, not for the money, but for the knowledge and experience. Sure, I only make a few dollrs here and there, but maybe in a year I’ll make gains consistently enough to take over one of my household bills. Then maybe in ten or fifteen years, be able to trade daily. But I know all the while, I’m going to have to be learning about how to reach that “big picture”. Thanks!!

  • drpipslow

    @chagr fan: You have really solid expectations. It takes about 10 years of deliberate practice to master a craft.

  • drpipslow

    @chagr fan: You have really solid expectations. It takes about 10 years of deliberate practice to master a craft.

  • LadyEmilsha

    “Every day, i am achieving learning goals”,i like this quote.
    profitable or not, at least i’ve accomplished something.
    Thanks for the thots

  • LadyEmilsha

    “Every day, i am achieving learning goals”,i like this quote.
    profitable or not, at least i’ve accomplished something.
    Thanks for the thots

  • gthedrum

    Thanks DrPipslow for this added insight into the trader’s psychology. It’s important to realise that whether the trade is a winner or a loser, the main thing is the lesson learned. Today I had only 2 trades, which I unfortunately scalped where bigger profits were available. However, the most productive part of my day was spent going over babypips school sections. I often find when I’m reading about trading instead of watching my trades too closely, they usually come round to profit. Too often have I honed in, instead of taking the birdseye view, just to panic and close out or move stops too tight. I don’t know what I’ll do when I finish at the School of Pipsology! :-)

  • gthedrum

    Thanks DrPipslow for this added insight into the trader’s psychology. It’s important to realise that whether the trade is a winner or a loser, the main thing is the lesson learned. Today I had only 2 trades, which I unfortunately scalped where bigger profits were available. However, the most productive part of my day was spent going over babypips school sections. I often find when I’m reading about trading instead of watching my trades too closely, they usually come round to profit. Too often have I honed in, instead of taking the birdseye view, just to panic and close out or move stops too tight. I don’t know what I’ll do when I finish at the School of Pipsology! :-)

  • JEWEL

    Another nice shut, nice of you, we need more of this for improvement in our trading profession, sent us more of this i pray God bless your effort, amen.

  • JEWEL

    Another nice shut, nice of you, we need more of this for improvement in our trading profession, sent us more of this i pray God bless your effort, amen.

  • lookshines

    Thanks for the insight guys

  • lookshines

    Thanks for the insight guys