What differentiates a good spread better from a bad spread better? The same thing that often separates good and bad doctors, or good and bad professional footballers: whilst everyone makes mistakes, the top professionals make them less often. And to do that you need to master three very human emotions.
You often hear the advice that you should learn from your mistakes. But it's just as important to learn from your successes.
If a trade makes money, ask yourself why and whether you made more or less than you expected. Did you get lucky or did you follow a tried and tested strategy? Could you reckon on repeating the trade or was it a one off?
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
Know why you are winning, as well as doing the necessary navel gazing over your duff trades.
The classic gambling, drinking or smoking refrain is "just one more and I'm done". If you are having a bad day in the markets, stop trading. Don't start placing high stake bets in the hope of recovering earlier losses, as chances are a bad day will only get worse. After all, you will have good and bad sessions too - just like the stock market, which can swing up on a Monday morning for no other reason than a group of professional traders are feeling positive.
- Spread betting The easy way to geared, tax-free returns
- Forex trading- How to profit from currency movements
If the day's going badly at home maybe you are being distracted by other jobs, or the kids, or an annoying tradesman in the room next door, cut your losses and try again tomorrow morning.
Markets can be frustrating. You may be confident that a piece of news will move a particular exchange rate or stock price, and then that piece of news either fails to arrive or doesn't have the effect you expected.
Some days are just slow days in the financial markets trading volumes may be low and news flow weak. Fine in the words, supposedly, of Ronald Reagan: "don't just do something, stand there". Whatever you do, resist the urge to abandon your strategy and trade out of boredom.
If you can't help yourself, only trade with money you are prepared to lose 100%. And then if you happen to get lucky, see point one above!
Tim graduated with a history degree from Cambridge University in 1989 and, after a year of travelling, joined the financial services firm Ernst and Young in 1990, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1994.
He then moved into financial markets training, designing and running a variety of courses at graduate level and beyond for a range of organisations including the Securities and Investment Institute and UBS. He joined MoneyWeek in 2007.
Bitcoin hits new heights - is now a good time to invest?
The value of Bitcoin has surged to a 20-month high. Why is Bitcoin rising and is now a good time to invest?
By Vaishali Varu Published
Gold hits record high - could it soar higher next year?
The yellow metal has hit a new all-time high. We look at market expectations for 2024, whether investors should sell and take profits, and how to invest in gold.
By Ruth Emery Published