The number one question traders have when they’re starting out is “how long will it take for me to become a profitable trader?” It’s not at all surprising that this is the first thing novice traders want to know about; after all, trading has the potential to be an incredibly lucrative career, and that was probably a factor in choosing this path. The problem with this way of thinking, though, is that it doesn’t really address how to achieve the goal of becoming profitable.
When starting out, the number one question should be more along the lines of how to amass the knowledge and training needed to be successful in this field. Instead of focusing solely on the goal, it should be the journey that they are thinking about.
Here are the questions that should be asked by new traders:
“What can I do as a trader to become profitable?”
Before jumping straight into how long it will take to make profit, it’s much more sensible to think about the steps involved in reaching that goal. After all, you can’t ascertain how long something is likely to take if you don’t first find out what you need to do.
It may sound obvious, but if you don’t know how to trade the market, you will never make any money doing it. The very first thing a person new to trading should be asking of more experienced professionals, is “how do I do this, and how do I do it well?” Learning the practical fundamentals of trading is the foundation that you’ll need if you’re planning to build a successful career in profitable trading.
Take time to really get under the skin of trading by learning from colleagues and reading all of the literature on the subject that you can get your hands on. Once you’ve mastered this, you can move on to asking the second most important question.
“What will it take for me to become profitable?”
Rather than dealing with the practicalities of trading, this question is focused more on you as a person. Think about how you can mentally and psychologically besuccessful as a trader, and which qualities you will need to master to reach your end goal.
It’s a well-known fact that trading is a predominantly solitary career, and the pressure can be extremely intense, so a strong mind-set is imperative to becoming profitable. Even if you know all there is to know about how to trade, if you can’t master this outlook it’s unlikely that you’ll make money.
However much you might want to ignore this fact, it remains true that not everyone is cut out for trading. And if you’re not, you need to be honest with yourself before investing any money. To decide whether a career in trading is really for you, consider whether you would be able to resist temptation when constantly faced with it. Ask yourself, “am I patient enough, and can I be realistic about the market and how cruel it can sometimes be?” If you answer no to any of these questions, it would be wise to consider whether trading is the right career for you. If you answered yes, now’s the time to circle back round to that first question that everyone asks.
“How long does it take to become profitable?”
You’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “that’s all well and good, but how long is it going to take?” Well, the dissatisfying truth is that there is no definitive answer to the question. How long it takes, or indeed whether you ever become profitable depends entirely on you, your commitment, and your ability.
It’s probably not what you were hoping to hear from this article, but with so many variables it’s impossible to specify when you’ll start to see the money rolling in. Articles claiming to know exactly when you will become profitable are inaccurate, as there is no formula for this.
Whether it takes you months or years to reach your goal of profitable trading is completely down to you. Some people are born with the natural ability to thrive in the field, so it’s possible that they’ll make profit in a shorter time. That being said, even if you don’t have a natural gift, if you work hard to learn how to trade and you ensure that you remain focused and strong-willed, there is absolutely no reason why it should take you any longer. Once you’ve decided that trading is for you, study and work hard and you’ll be profitable in the shortest possible time.
Some things to remember about trading
You’ve probably heard the old Wall Street saying: “Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered.” Well, this sums up how you should behave as a trader. The metaphors are derived from the ways in which these animals attack: bulls charge with horns thrusting upwards, and bears use strong paws to swipe down any potential threat. Pigs, however, are synonymous with greed, and in the trading game greed will get you slaughtered.
This saying can be applied to those who ask the question, “how long until I become profitable?” This attitude is more ‘pig’ than ‘bear’ or ‘bull’, and has the potential to hurt your long term success if you focus too hard on making money as soon as possible. Don’t succumb to chasing short term success, as this can lead to errors such as trading more than you can afford, or more often than you should. Experienced traders know that it’s all about looking at the bigger picture and playing the long game when it comes to profitable trading.
So, focus on working hard and learning all you can, and be patient with your growth. Taking your time, making strong decisions, and learning how to succeed will turn you into a profitable trader much sooner than if you obsess over when you’ll get there.
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