Do you remember your first drawing? Maybe your parents saved it and showed it to you years later after you had drawn it, but I bet you don’t remember when and how you drew it. How about your first bike ride? For most this will be easy to remember. What about first day at school? I cried and screamed for quite a long time when my mother left me at school that first day. 🙂
So how about any of those skills? Did they evolved over the years, decades?
So there is just one thing to say. You get better at anything by doing it and practicing it. You learn how to draw by drawing every day and every week. You get better at riding a bike by riding a bike.
You could spend years riding a bike every day, but that won’t teach you forex trading. It’s a stupid thing to say, but that’s how it is. You get better at trading forex only by trading forex.
How we get where we are today
In December of 2013 I was sitting with my son and watching him draw his first drawing. It was one of those moments when he got a big piece of paper and some Kid’s First Washable Crayons. He was 2 and a half at that moment and it was a first time when he actually realized what he is doing with those crayons, so it was sooooo cute to watch him.
So he was drawing like there’s no tomorrow and this is what masterpiece he created.
Now I am not into art and paintings, but it does look similar to some $100k paintings you can see in a gallery. But in general actually there is no idea behind this drawing and probably it hardly looks like anything special to anyone except me and my family.
So looking at this drawing and seeing how much room there is for improvement I remembered my very first trading account back in 2008. Not sure if any of you remember the forex broker Marketiva, but somehow they were first that I stumbled upon them and started my journey in forex trading. So I checked some really old files on my computer and I found a couple of dozen screen shots of that platform with my indicators, charts, positions, etc. It was so interesting to remember what I was doing at that time. It’s like looking at my son’s first drawing. You know when you evolve and a few months or years later you look at things and how they were back then and you see how much they have changed, and how much you have changed. So this was the same feeling. It’s like when you meet someone for the first time after 6 months and that person has lost 20 pounds.
Now there’s no doubt some of you are way better traders than I am, but I thought it would be fun and useful at the same time to share my insights now when I look at my mistakes in these old screen shots.
Every Forex position counts
So here’s the first screen shot from Marketiva platform.
See those floating loss positions? I didn’t care about those because there were a few others in profit. You know that feeling? It’s when you practice trading in forex and you make some bad trades and then you automatically ignore them in your mind. “Nah, this was wrong entry because of this and that, I won’t count that in the final results of this strategy test”. Or you think “mmm, these doesn’t count because I would not do that on a real money account”.
So the same with that “ignore this trade just for now” attitude, it could become a habit. And since you never record that in your trading journal you won’t actually realize how much damage it does to your trading career. In forex trading every position counts. Don’t ignore losing positions thinking that you won’t do such an entry next time. You will only be able to remember it if you record the bad trade in your journal and check it before entering the next trade. If you see it’s getting to be a habit to enter into a trade by forgetting to check “rule number 5” out of 10 rules, then add an 11th rule “Double check if rule 5 is really met.”.
Have a clear reason to enter the market
I know many of you just enter the market to see how it will end up and if you make profit or not. Now if you are doing this on a demo account then fine, experiment, but don’t forget to use a journal to track these experiments. You learn how to ride those forex price waves by riding forex price waves. If it’s on a real money account where you play like this then please stop. Why would you do that?
I know it’s quite good experience to trade small on a real money account just to feel the real feeling of trading with micro lots on a $100 account, but you still need a plan for each trade.
Why did you enter this trade? Was it based on a price action? An indicator? Economic news release?
You need to mark every trade and have a set of clear rules for each entry and exit.
You need to make sure that every trade follows the same rules. Don’t add new rules or remove them once you start testing. It would be like jumping from one system to another and you won’t have any track record of what has worked for you even just 10 trades ago. You can’t go 10 routes at once on your bike, so why you do that in Forex?
Here’s a good example of my bad trades with no plan. See this picture below.
I have entered a short trade on GBPUSD on a 5 minute chart. I could only guess why I did that so long ago, but my guess is that it was just because price was very high. Really? See how it turned out and see the hourly chart.
There was obviously no plan for this trade. It was not planned. Price continued to go up, I wasn’t sure where I needed to set the stop loss and this was potentially one of those trades where you could end up holding for weeks in huge loss hoping for the price to get back just to entry.
So let me give you few example trading rules that you need to write down BEFORE you ever enter a single trade.
Find your own set of rules; this is just an example, but once you create your rules and write them down, don’t change them until you make 100 trades. Or even better, like Nick Radge teaches, focus on next 1000 trades.
This is important, if you change a rule, add one or remove one, you will ruin your trading system and you will never know how it would have ended if you didn’t make that change.
This is very powerful and crucial to understand so let me repeat. If you change a single rule in your Forex trading strategy without first testing it well over making at least 100 trades you will never know how it would have turned out.
Don’t get trapped into the loop of tailoring trading rules to each and every trade you make.
So here are example rules for a long entry.
- Am I in an Europe trading session?
- Did the price just broke last day’s high price level?
- Is the Moving Average of 14 below the current market price?
Even if these sound like silly rules don’t mind them too much. It’s just an example.
Now say you get 2 profitable trades with these and then the 3rd one is a loss. So what would many beginners do? They would change the Moving Average to some other period, say 21 to make it look good, like it was preventing that 3rd trade from happening. You think next time this will help you, but here’s 2 really bad things that happen here.
- You never know what trade it will prevent next time. It could prevent a good one as well as bad one too.
- You don’t know how those first 2 profitable trades would have looked like and turned out to be with Moving Average of 21. Remember, we used 14 for those two first trades. It’s possible that they would have never happened. So before changing a single thing test it on previous trades first, and I wouldn’t make that change in the same account.
You know, even after almost half a hear now my son’s drawings look very similar to that first one. He will use another “drawing strategy” as he gets better and better in the future, but for now he is consistent with his original rules, you know, just moving the pen into random directions. He’s much better on running around and kicking the ball.
He’s almost 3 years old now, only, but he’s doing much better at being consistent and sticking to his “drawing rules” than most of us in forex trading. We can take this as a joke obviously, but it still makes the point and can help us examine our own trading shortfalls.
There’s a thousand ways to do the same thing
There’s a thousand ways to do the same thing, especially in forex. A great example of that would be this chart below. It was created years ago, at the beginning of my journey into the currency trading, and it shows really well my next point.
What you see is my first attempt to use Fibonacci and Elliott Wave theory. It’s obvious how easy it was to draw these lines on a historic price chart and we all know it’s more difficult to do this when these price patterns are just starting to evolve. So this brings us to my next point.
Fibonacci and wave theory works for sure and it’s a proven fact by many traders. But whether you will be successful using this method or you will lose, depends on how you will draw these lines and how well you can identify waves. And there are 1000 ways to do this. You can use latest swing highs and lows to draw Fibonacci, but which ones will that be you ask? There are number of time frames and a number of waves inside the bigger waves. To illustrate what I mean I take this next picture.
We see a nice 1-2-3-4 wave price pattern, but what we could also draw, and lots of people would, is just the first wave 1-2 on all that price movement in between 1-2-3-4. So which one should we use? Now I may sound stupid for someone who’s an expert in this type of trading, but I am just trying to explain my point here. I am not an expert in this type of trading, or forex trading in general, I am learning constantly to become a better trader, but from my point of view-a programmer’s point of view-I really see thousands of opportunities to enter the market. But obviously this couldn’t be a solution in real live trading, when we do not know where the price will head next. In real live markets something like this would happen. Check the next picture. You go long, price reverses and goes down. You exit and go short, price reverses and goes up. You exit and go long again, price reverses and goes down again, and this time it goes down hard making you realize that you have just missed a perfect opportunity to go short on a 1-2-3-4 pattern. In other words you missed an elephant while chasing a mouse.
I am sure this situation is so common for every forex trader that it has even became a joke. Just look at this picture I found online. It’s so true.
Things we believe in are always a subject to be taken with less judgement
A perfect example here is the same picture of that 1-2-3-4 wave on a GBPCHF 5 minute chart. Here’s the same chart again, but this time with a few other waves identified. Now the 5 minute chart for this is obviously not the best chart, but remember that this is just an example.
Face it, if you were trading this live you would have identified those first 2 waves as a potential entries and probably would have taken those trades. Now when we look at the chart when can see all that has happened we clearly see that those were not the best entries based on our goal of trading a 1-2-3-4 wave pattern. Ideally, we would enter somewhere at point 3 which we would expect to be at Fibonacci 61.8% level. And then we would exit at point #4 or better–way above it for a long, or below it for a short trade.
So the next time you will look at a historical price chart to back test some trading strategy, make sure you focus on all the entries you get. Don’t leave anything possibility out, bring all of them on the table, and the best way to do this is with a trading robot. Yes, I know many of you hate even the thought of using an Expert Advisor, but actually, you should give it another chance. I don’t speak about clicking that one button to run it and then leave it to make you millions, but rather I am talking about running a trading robot on your account while you watch and analyze every single trade it makes on the account. Don’t look at this like you’re handing all the work and responsibility to the forex robot, look at this as if you have hired someone to watch your charts 24 hours a day and enter all possible positions based on your trading rules. There’s nothing more to it. The trading robot is just your co-worker who does not need to be paid, never gets involved into emotions, does not get sick and just does the work it is programmed to do.
Now I couldn’t just skip this opportunity to give you some advice on how to get your own trading robot created. I have several programmers listed on my site that will be glad to help you. But before you go there and send your request for a price quote read this article first. It will give you some tips on what to focus when ordering a trading app to be created for you.
Record all your rules, better before you try them
When I look at the next picture with a number of profitable GBPJPY trades I want to bang my head against the wall for not writing down the entry rules I used for these trades. Just look at them, 100% winning ratio (not sure how that one open trade ended, so it might be 92% winning ratio actually). While it’s obvious that we should make at least a couple hundreds of these trades to measure a winning ratio (or even better, focus on the next 1000 trades), but admit it looks like a great start. Now honestly I do not have entry rules for these and I certainly don’t remember how I did this, but I do remember that it was me manually scalping the market early in the morning of the European session.
Now we don’t know if this would have ended up being a profitable trading strategy in the long run, and sadly we won’t ever know this, but this really brings us to the point that you should record all of the trading rules you are using. Write this on a piece of paper, use Evernote, Google docs, whatever is your best tool for taking notes, just do it. Otherwise you risk missing that perfect trading method you might find.
Here’s another great example of hundreds of pips and no trading rules to remember.
You know that feeling when you try something new, especially when you were a kid, and you find yourself great at doing it? It’s like one of those moments when your friend introduces you to his new pair of roller skates and encourages you to try them. Moments later you realize that you are doing it even better though it is your first time standing on them. It does happen in forex trading too, more rare than most other things, but it happens. Since you don’t know when this will happen you should record all your trading rules you are using. Document everything and the best place to do this is to have a trading journal.
Understand what every indicator means
So I start by saying that I certainly don’t know what every indicator on MT4 means (face it, you too do not know how to professionally use Accumulation/Distribution or some other indicator) and how professional traders are using them, but I do know it’s crucial to know this and I am on my way to learn this. Actually it will be mandatory for my next project I have been working on for the last 3 years now with 2 of my friends. It would allow you to test mostly any strategy that uses MT4 indicators (forward or back testing on a demo or a live account) without requiring you to create an EA to do so.
So here’s what I mean and it’s well illustrated in the next picture.
That is another mistake I made a few years ago and I am blessed to finally have learned this after attending a John Bollinger lecture this year in Lithuania.
So what we see in this picture is that I was trying to find entries by using 5 indicators: Moving Average, Parabolic SAR, MACD, RSI, and Stochastic. Every new forex trader would say this does not look that bad, but what I have learned is that last 3 indicators (MACD, RSI, Stochastic) are all Oscillators and it does not give that much benefit to use multiple Oscillators. This basically means they all show pretty much the same thing. It’s like asking someone for the direction twice. They will give you the same answer every time. My mistake was even worse, I was asking the same thing 3 times. And even if you could find the right entry, for example using this MACD and Stochastic strategy, you better use some kind of other indicators from another category so you bring in additional data rather than repeat the same information in multiple forms. It would be wiser to use a Volume indicator like the Money Flow Index together with one Oscillator indicator.
Now maybe I am wrong which such an approach, but since this tip came from John Bollinger himself, there’s no doubt it is worth at least giving a try. And remember, when some indicator prevents you from taking a bad trade, it could also prevent you from taking a good trade as well. It’s all about probabilities.
Moving Average season
Now this one is well worth to write a book about and I am sure it will end up being a good resource for new forex traders to understand that the forex market is just trying to tease every trader using every possible trading strategy just to convince you to invest your hard-earned money. This happens in periods of days, weeks, months or even years and that’s how many forex beginners are “tricked” into thinking their trading strategy is something they can use to earn money. Here’s what I mean and the next hourly chart of GBPUSD is a great example.
See how perfect those entries are based on two moving average crossovers. Easy right? See this next trade on AUDCAD hourly chart.
Who wouldn’t want to ride that all the way up? And the entry is so easy that I bet 80% of new forex traders learn to use this strategy even before they learn how to open a trade.
What most new traders do is that when they start to explore the forex market they will keep applying various trading indicators and trying different parameters just to find those perfect entries on a history price chart. But actually they are just tailoring indicators for the past price movements and that does not guarantee anything for the future. In fact, when the market tends to move in seasons they just find what is working for the past season. Nobody knows when that Moving Average season will be over and as a rule of thumb it will happen right after you start to trade with your real money. 😉
That’s why so many people end up losing their money. That’s why we see many horror stories about traders losing money on forums and blogs. If you get lucky and earn money, or you actually learn how to trade and begin to earn money for yourself and even others, you don’t go to forums and tell everyone that you finally did it. You won’t share your “secret method” with anyone just like you won’t tell anyone which side of the lake has most fish when you go fishing. You don’t want anyone to go there before you and get all the fun not leaving anything for you. People who become profitable trading currencies end up just trading for themselves, or they become trading coaches, or even become trading signal providers and start a forex signal business.
And on the topic of a forex trading couch, it looks to me like the Andrew Michem trading course is really worth a look. Personally I have not tried it myself and I am not endorsing him, nor I am an affiliate for him, however, after reading a bunch of reviews on ForexPeaceArmy about Andrew’s coaching I must admit I want to go over that material myself too. I would be glad if those who used Andrew lessons would post a comment down below and tell us your experience.
Handle every stressful trading situation like a dog
Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can’t eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away. This is a great idea, and I truly don’t want you to pee on your computer after you see a stop loss hitting in your account, but you sure shouldn’t give that much thought or stress about it. In fact if you enter the trades based on your trading rules every single time you shouldn’t stress about the losing positions at all. If you are stressing about them chances are that you entered the market by not following your rules and that is what makes you stress about it. In other words you are stressing not about the losing position in your account but because of the fact you took that position without following your trading rules. In any way, just put that losing trade in your trading journal, mark it in red and move on.
I hope by now you understand that forex is just a bunch of possibilities, or maybe I should say millions of possibilities, but it all comes down to understanding how the market moves, which will give you possibility to predict where the price may go next.
Don’t forget to try at least one of my words of advice, or even better, a few of them. See for yourself if this helps your trading career and boosts your trading success rate. As always, put your questions and comments here and let me know what you think.
So, what tips you have for us today? If it would be just one advice to become a better trader, what that would be? Andrew, if you are reading this, I bet your input on this would be priceless.