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Hirschhorn: Irrational Beliefs

Video: Market Coach Doug Hirschhorn discusses five common lies or irrational beliefs that lead traders astray.

Choppy markets can cause investors to bleed out profits. To stay ahead in the trading game, you have to avoid buying into these five common irrational beliefs:

  1. What goes up must come down and vice versa. That’s Newton’s law, not the law of trading. And even if the market does eventully self-correct, you have no idea when it will happen. In short, there's no point blowing up your account fighthing the tape.
  2. You have to be smart to make money. No, what you have to be is disciplined. If you want to be smart, write a book or teach at a university. If you want to make money, listen to what the market is telling you and trade to make money -- not to be “right.”
  3. Making money is hard. Nope. Sorry. Making money is actually easy. Statistically, you’re going to do it about half the time. Keeping it, now that's the hard part.
  4. I have to have a high winning percentage to be profitable. Not true. How often you are right on a trade is only half of the equation. The other half is how much do you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong. You can remember that with this formula: Probability (odds of it going up or down) x Magnitude (how much it goes up or down) = Profitability.
  5. To be successful, I have to trade without emotions. That is both wrong and impossible. You are human so you have emotions. Emotions can be a powerful motivator to your trading.

When you feel angry or scared in trading, take that emotion and translate it into something more productive. For example, if you’re feeling angry because you just got run over by the market, view that anger as a reason to be more focused and disciplined in your entry and exit levels on the next trade.

Think better, invest smarter.

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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's new book, 8 Ways to Great (Putnam, 2009) is currently available on Amazon.com for $19.95.

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.