Guest post by Matt at TradingParadigm.com
When we enter the trading arena for the first time, there’s not typically much meaningful thought given to our own values and principles – even though these foundational elements are what literally dictate our ultimate success or failure.
Instead, we tend to get blinded by enticing external elements like guru alerts/signals/hot picks, so-called foolproof systems, and all sorts of other nonsense that essentially promises us massive profits with little to no personal effort. But these types of things only serve as a major distraction from what really matters.
The reality is that personal transformation (on both a psychological and behavioral level) is absolutely required in order to achieve long-term, sustainable market success. You can’t outsource this individual process to somebody else through an alert service, newsletter, or chat room subscription. The onus is entirely on you to change.
Short-term willpower and discipline can certainly help get the ball rolling in the right direction, but lasting change has to be solidified at the identity level: the core values (priorities) and principles (rules) you choose to live by. You probably don’t consciously think about these underlying components very often, if at all, but they guide every decision that you make.
So it’s worth taking some time to truly consider what your current values and principles are, and what you want them to be moving forward.
My Personal “Trader Code”
I can’t force you to adopt all the same values and principles as me. You have to formulate and arrange your own in a way that makes the most sense for you. But I highly suggest using this as a template/blueprint for creating your own personal “trader code”.
This is something I wish I had developed and fully embraced right from the start of my own trading journey, so don’t delay in getting started. It’s the foundation for everything that I do.
Health (Mental, Physical, etc.)
Humility/Being an Endless Student
Embrace change, adaptation, and evolution (continuous improvement)
Build keystone habits and skills to support long-lasting success
Never sacrifice long-term goals for instant emotional gratification
Focus on what you can control (process); not what you can’t (short-term outcomes)
Find the lessons in losses/setbacks and use them to grow. Failure is only feedback.
There are no naturals. Sustained habit/skill-building and experience trump talent.
The market can’t hurt you. Only you can with your own ineffective attitudes and beliefs.
Your current best is temporary. Your future best is yet to be realized/discovered.
Trading is a skill-based, peak-performance endeavor – treat it like one with proper training.
Notice how “money” is nowhere to be found in my list of core values and principles.
This seems counterintuitive since we’re operating within “financial” markets – so you might think money should be the primary focus – but that’s exactly where most people go wrong. As a trader, an obsessive focus on money, ironically, will actually produce less of it – because it clouds decision-making and undermines proper development.
For your own long-term benefit, an obsession over money needs to be redirected toward more effective values and process-focused principles – and over time, those better values and principles will produce happiness, money, and success as byproducts. Too many market participants disregard cause-and-effect. But if you want favorable long-term results, you can’t cheat the process.
Trading is Self-Discovery & Transformation
Most people are initially attracted to trading because of the profit potential. So there’s no doubt that the typical market participant has money at the top of their list of values.
Yes, of course, everyone wants to be rewarded financially for the time and effort they put into it. But if you pursue trading for the wrong reasons and are fixated on the money, then you have virtually no chance of durable success – unless you change.
What trading truly involves is a tremendous amount of self-discovery and transformation. So if you go at it with the sole desire of “making millions”, then you’re disregarding the deep personal journey actually required to achieve it. This is what the fake gurus fail to tell you because they’re trying to sell you something that seems “fast” and “easy”.
But if you’re not genuinely passionate about trading and everything the process entails (full accountability, overcoming natural biases, continuous improvement, etc.), then it will be extremely difficult to overcome the steep learning curve. Being motivated by money for a few days or weeks is common, but it just doesn’t sustain. What endures is your identity.
In the end, the real rewards of trading come from the journey of personal growth (building habits/skills/experience) – and that personal growth is what manifests into financial growth (money/profits).
It all stems from the core values and principles that you choose to live by.