Discovering Your Trading Style
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Traders are frequently drawn in by advertisements for systems, indicators, setups, etc. that promise all kinds of outrageously good-looking results. Sometimes these claims are just completely untrue and are simply designed to engage your greed and extract money from you (ironically, feeding the greed of the one making the claims!) But often times they are perfectly legitimate for the person making the claim, but they may not suit you well at all.

Which brings me to a really critical issue to consider if you’re still looking for your own edge (or “Bubba” as we call it in TRG). You need to always consider if a particular approach/method/technique is actually well suited to you. You should take into account things like your personality/temperament (Are you greedy? Fearful? Ego-centric? etc.), patience (or lack thereof), ability to focus (or not), the amount of time you have available to be in the markets, what other commitments you might have (family, job, pets, etc.), even the size of your account can absolutely rule out certain approaches that just won’t work for you.

TRG co-founders Jeff Mayem and Lee Harris for instance trade quite different approaches, because each of them understood themselves well enough to recognize what would fit them and what wouldn’t. For example Jeff is almost always early to trades because he can see them coming so far in advance, and so he’s adapted his trading style to suit this with what he calls “nibbling in” to a trade (putting on just a single contract even if he plans to add more at a more favorable spot). In Lee’s case he knew he had issues around greed and always wanting to squeeze more out of his trading, so he developed very constrained setups that are only valid under narrow sets of conditions. If those conditions aren’t met, then there’s no trade and his “greed monkey” stays in its cage. Both of them made their approaches fit their personalities, not the other way around.

What you’ll want to watch out for, is trying to change yourself in order to make a certain thing work for you. I’m not saying that change is impossible, but for most traders I believe quite strongly that they will be better served by discovering an approach that already “feels right” for them, and pursuing that. Like, if you’re the type who gets easily bored and can’t sit still or focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time, then price action scalping NQ on a 15 second chart (or DOM) might be ideally suited to you. Or maybe you’re a busy parent who is lucky to get 10 minutes per day to trade – you might be best served trading only the initial burst of momentum in the morning in a market like ES or RTY and calling it a day. Or maybe you’ve got several hours available every day during the day session and you are the patient, focused type who can know exactly what they’re looking for, wait to see it, and then pounce. Well then structural trading the ES using Market Profile/TPO concepts and a 30 minute Footprint chart might fit you like a glove.

I can say from much personal experience that trying to just force yourself into an approach that doesn’t come somewhat naturally to you, can lead to intense frustration and possibly financial losses. Now that’s not to say that everything must come easily without any effort or you shouldn’t do it. Trading is hard work, it requires as much dedication and practice to get truly good at it, as it would to become a concert pianist, a master woodworker, or the Head Chef at a 5-star world-famous restaurant. It doesn’t come over night.

It’s also possibly that you’re brand new to trading, and so it would be quite natural for you to go through a bit of a “discovery” phase of figuring out what suits you, and what doesn’t. This is fine and can be very valuable as long as you accept that you are exploring, and if something truly doesn’t fit you at all and there isn’t an option for adjusting it to suit, then you should probably consider another approach. Trading is infinitely variable in how to approach it, and there is no “one size fits all” method that works equally well for everyone, at all times.

Above all, let yourself play and explore. Don’t be too rigid in your thinking, too inflexible in your ideas of what works, what doesn’t, how things must work or not, etc. Keep an open mind while applying good logic and deductive reasoning to what you see out there in the “trading education space”, and if something really speaks to you – by all means give it a serious effort. Worst case you’ll discover something that doesn’t work for you and probably a few things about yourself in the process. Best case, you’ll find yourself a trading methodology that will eventually deliver consistent profits.

Until next time, trade well!

Jonathan van Clute
Community Manager, Trading Research Group

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