Everyone makes mistakes in the markets. But, how do you bounce back and pull back from a bad trade?
There’s really no such thing as a perfect trader, and don’t believe anyone who says they’ve never had a loss. They have, and if they are any good, they’ve learned from their mistakes, and then put the mistakes behind them.
The key to success is learning how to pull back. First, you have to understand the basics. The good news is that the more you trade and the more experienced you become, the fewer mistakes you’ll make. If you use stops and pull back on all your trades, even a few large mistakes won’t wipe you out. Instead of being perfect, you should aim to improve continually, while using proper trading techniques and money management skills. But while it’s in your power to prevent avoidable mistakes, some market events can’t be planned for. The market cannot be made into a completely safe place.
If you are alert and nimble when you trade, and have stops in place, quick market changes shouldn’t hurt you badly. But it’s always possible to be completely surprised, to have a disastrous computer crash or other equipment failure at the wrong time, or to simply be unable to exit a large position quickly enough. Occasionally, you may be wrong about a trade you felt very confident about. Events can sometimes conspire against you, causing you to sustain a large loss. And though losses like these are devastating, you can recover from them, with a bit of work.
Often the best thing to do after a big loss is to take some time off from trading. I recommend doing something else for a week or two. It will put the loss in perspective, and give you time to recuperate from the emotional shock.
When you’re ready for it, take some time to analyze the experience. Setbacks can be great learning opportunities, if you have presence of mind to take advantage of them. Spend some time figuring out the best way to keep the same thing from happening again. Then add these ideas to your trading strategy. Consider if it was a weakness in your money management skills or your strategy that contributed to the problem. Decide what you need to do to keep the problem from happening again, and then do it.
Once you’ve made your changes to your trading system, trade on paper or in a simulated account for a while. This will help you to feel comfortable and in control before you start trading your account again. You will need to get your confidence back before you start actually trading. Also, your time off will have left you a little out of touch with the market, and this is a good way to get up to speed without risking capital.
When you return to actual trading, treat it as a new start, free of pressure to regain lost capital. Whatever you do, don’t keep punishing and distracting yourself by trying to make up for the loss. Don’t affect your thinking by putting that kind of pressure on yourself. Consider the mistake a thing of the past. The only way to trade successfully is to trade with confidence. If you’re feeling guilty or are scared of a repeat disaster, you won’t be able to trade with a winning attitude.
This is how you pull back. Once you have that winning attitude back, make only trades that you have confidence in. With your strategy fine tuned and your confidence back, you will soon be completely emotionally and mentally recovered from your loss. It will become one of many points on the road that you’ve passed on your way to becoming a successful trader.