A brief exploration of how patience can affect trading
Patience in trading
What is patience? According the Cambridge English Dictionary, it means: “the ability to wait, or to continue doing something despite difficulties, or to suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed.” Patience is of course a psychological characteristic. It certainly isn’t something physical. The opposite of patience is of course impatience.
Why is patience important?
As a new trader you may have started off trading on lower time frames such as 5 min or 15 min, limited by account size. Your targets may have been smaller, so things would happen pretty quickly, meaning within a couple hours or so. That’s not too bad a wait for profits or losses to happen. As new traders become more successful and experienced, they then have to cope with waiting. No longer are they waiting on 10 to 100 points of equity to emerge. They’re now having to suffer the time involved for say 500 or 1000 points to emerge on say a 4H or 12H time frame. These can take weeks to play out. They may suffer the agony of watching a 500 point gain diminish to just 5 points, then back up to 450 then on to 650. The psychological effect of this ‘torture’ is to wear down one’s ability to wait. Self-talk such as, “OMG, I’d better take the money now… why wait and possibly lose all of it.” Then in further evaluation of the position, logic steps in to say that the position is still within a trend envelope and doing what it’s supposed to do. There can be a constant battle between logic and emotions, that causes patience to wear thin.
If your whole lot of positions (say 5 of them) are in much negative equity and heading close to stop-losses, you want this to be over with! Self-talk such as, “I’m calling it in… I can’t stand it. Start over!” – may happen. A new trader may then be worn down and close all positions manually. Minutes or a couple hours later the same positions that were closed, then take off in the direction that delivers profits. The new trader then punches himself in the face. If you’ve not been in this sort of situation, you’re just lucky or haven’t done enough trading.
See possible situation in the chart (click to magnify). After 20 days of waiting price could come close to stop-loss or trigger the stop. The expected thoughts in the worse case might be: “Jeeez!! So little after so long?!!“. But hold on the markets owe you nothing. You are not rewarded in proportion to your patience. The markets do not think, “Ohh…poor thing.. he’s waited so long. Give him a few more quid.” In the captioned situation, one is rewarded for having the right assessment of the trend and having the skill to follow it for as long as it will deliver. That’s it – the markets don’t know you, they don’t love you, they don’t care about you! In fact the rewards are what you give yourself. The markets don’t give you money. If anything, the markets are a trap to empty your pockets. Got it?
Impatience may influence traders to take an entry position that is not quite satisfactory. This could mean greater exposure to risk or less advantage in the markets.
Patience is about waiting and therefore about time. Patience is affected by a range of factors, some alluded to above. The infographic is a substitute for 10,000 words. Think about it. See supplementary links.
- Improving performance by having patience.
- Patience a virtue for traders.
- Core psychological characteristics of traders.
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