Peak performance in volatile markets
by Susan Arenson and Neal Weintraub
In any area of pursuit, setting goals can give you a greater sense of direction, help you feel more
productive, better mobilize your efforts and direct your attention to the task at hand. When you set trading
goals you not only reinforce your persistence in developing trading skills, but you may decrease your
trading anxiety because you are focusing on learning to become a more disciplined trader rather than on a
You can use the following guidelines to set your trading goals:
- Set performance or process goals rather than "content" goals. Define your success as improvement
and mastery rather than making loads of money, which is an outcome goal. Outcome goals can be
problematic for two reasons: Despite using a system diligently, a trader has only partial control
over the direction of a trade. The failure to meet an outcome goal also may decrease flexibility
when setting goals in the future.
- State your goal specifically with a corresponding timeframe for achievement. For example, rather
than state that you want to "make a lot of money," your goal might be to "trade S&P minis for the
next six months until I can show a neutral or positive money outcome for three contracts in a row."
- Goals must be realistic yet challenging. Their difficulty is based on your own ability, time and
commitment to trading. Assess your past performance and project into the future. If you've never
traded a particular market before, your first goal is to learn how it works by observing the
exchange, consulting with traders who trade it regularly and, finally, reading about it. Your next
goal could be to begin trading according to the first guideline.