Hirschhorn: How to Learn Patience

Losing patience can cost you a lot of money.

It's true, the Market can be frustrating, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty. And that can lead traders to lose patience, which is a classic portfolio killer and often leads to:

  1. Over trading Making way too many trades
  2. Making sloppy trades with no edge No edge, no trade
  3. Poorly-timed trades at bad levels Trading less efficiently than you should

Fortunately, for traders, patience is a skill that can be learned. But first, you have to know the three reasons traders lose patience:

  1. Fear of Missing Out You hear about others making money and have a compelling fear inside that if you don't participate now, you'll miss out on an opportunity to make money.
  2. Boredom You get tired of sitting on the sidelines, watching things happen for others. As a trader, you want to participate and getting involved is an easy thing to do.
  3. Trying to make up for previous losses We've all come through a time recently where we've lost a lot of money in our portfolios. We're frustrated and want to make it back as quickly as we lost it.

There are four simple ways traders can learn the skill of patience:

  1. Use “feelers,” small positions to help you find the direction. Like a golfer throwing blades of grass in the air to find out which way the wind is blowing, traders can use small positions to find out which way the market's going.
  2. Scale slowly into or out of positions. This allows you to express more patience with your portfolio and your trades, and will help you build the right positions at the right time.
  3. Document what triggers you to lose patience. Once you recognize those triggers, you can do something about those behaviors.
  4. Have a build rather than a make mentality. Trading is a game of processes. You want to build days to make weeks, build weeks to make months, and build months to make years.

Over time, having patience will allow you to be successful and your portfolio to grow.


Doug Hirschhorn is the chief executive officer of Edge Consulting, a firm specializing in “Peak Performance Coaching.” He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in sport psychology, and has offices in New York and South Florida. His client list includes elite athletes as well as many of the largest banks, hedge funds and financial institutions in the world. Doug is presently at work on his new book, 8 Ways to Great (Putnam, 2010).

Have a question for Doug? You can reach him through his Web site, DrDoug.com

Disclaimer: Doug Hirschhorn's expertise is in the psychology of achieving peak performance. He is not a financial advisor and does not make trading or investment recommendations or provide trading or investment advice. He is an expert on the mental game. Although Doug Hirschhorn has a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in sport psychology, he is not a licensed psychologist and does not provide therapeutic, clinical or counseling services.