So I’ve just completed week one of my Practice Trading and wanted to share some experiences and findings. A lot of this will be stuff you will have seen in other forum posts, but I think what I’d really like to get across is the mental change I went through as the week progressed.
Just a note, some of my reactions may seem OTT for a practice account, but for whatever reason, I have the same gut reaction to “fake” money as real money, I’ve found this beneficial as I know what I’ll experience when I finally go live.
At the start I caught myself doing something I hadn’t experienced before, self-sabotage. People have discussed this, but because I log everything, have tick lists etc. I didn’t believe this was something I was susceptible to. My first few trades were awful, they went against my strategy, I was panicking, revenge trading and overall not approaching things in the right way.
The key thing here is that I recognised it, and I made a decision that it was OK, that it was part of my process and that it was something I needed to get out of my system. So, for the first 2/3 days, I let myself panic, make bad trades and do frantic searches for a better strategy because “the strategy had to be wrong!”.
Come Thursday, I was sat with several logs and trade reviews to look over and it suddenly clicked. I went to my computer and deleted half my watchlist, taking away all these horrendous instruments that I didn’t have the experience to tackle, or that just didn’t work with my system.
Next, I tweaked every setting so that rather than being hopelessly unaware and unprepared, I had instead created an automated alert system that told me when to enter trades robotically based on my system, removing my human error.
Finally, I took the time to go back and backtest the first half of the week. What did I find? Every trade bar one or two that was with my system would have been profitable, and I don’t mean by small margins, I mean walking away with an increase of 10% of my account. WOW.
The only thing preventing my success was myself, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I went through this. If I pretended it was perfect and didn’t allow myself to experience this, I would have been in trouble once I started live trading.
I’ve included some quotes from my internal monologue below and why I had them running through my head, if you have felt something similar then hopefully my analysis might open some answers.
“It’s the strategy! It works for others, but not me!” This was after a few failed trades where I either panicked and left because it didn’t immediately go into the green or because I ignored my strategy.
"This is stupid! The price keeps turning against me! It actually did, but this is because I was ignoring divergences which can massively affect the strategy I use.
“I’ve failed myself, I’ve failed my family, I’ve failed my partner.” THIS shocked me, it was at a real low point and is brought about by a few personal things, but also again coming back to self-sabotage, it was a part of me trying to convince me to quit rather than keep trying.
“Oh… That trade went really well. It must have been a fluke!” NO YOU IDIOT! It’s because you finally used the strategy properly! This will be something your experience when you can’t believe you did something right, but maybe just accept you got something correct!
“I’m having fun! I’m making losses, but I’m really enjoying being sat at this desk and seeing things pull back!” This was it. A real AHA moment on Thursday that finally got through to me and told me that THIS is what I want to do. I love charts, I love analysis, I love geeking over trends and chart patterns and making these small, average, incremental gains because of smart sensible decisions and hard work paying off.
Some of this stuff may seem quite melodramatic, and on the outside, I’m sure I looked calm except for maybe a bead of sweat or a twelfth coffee break, but I think it’s important to see this side and know its normal. It’s normal in trading, it’s normal in a new job, it’s normal when learning to play the ukelele and it’ll be normal with any new thing. Some people don’t feel these things, and good for them you lucky so-and-so’s, but for those that do feel it, it’s fine, use it, let it fuel you and let it be part of your journey and thrive to succeed.
Right now I’m watching a trade on USDJPY fire up into profit, my S/L is now resting just above break-even and is following the trade up. I’ve learnt a new analysis technique for my strategy today and it’s just another tool that will help me succeed. This is the best job I’ve ever practised!