Why should you have a written trading plan?

Regardless of what you have attempted to do in the past, trading is likely to be the hardest thing you will ever do.It, also, has the potential to be the most joyous and rewarding thing you will ever do.

The fact is that trading is hard because it forces you to face your every weakness.  Your slightest negative emotion can be magnified until you are overcome with disappointment and self-doubt.

Trading can, also, be a daily test that you welcome because you know you are up to the challenge.

The consistent results you get in your trading, good or bad, are really the result of either following your well thought-out structured plan or the result of your free-form uncontrolled trading

So, what is the best way for a trader to assure that he or she will be in control of his trading?

To me, the answer is clear.

Every trader should have and follow his written trading plan.

If you are a new trader your written trading plan will serve as a guide to help you know what to do when you are not completely sure of what is best and what is not.

The fact is that an imperfect trading plan is immeasurably better than no plan.

As my favorite professor once told me, “our goal is completion, not perfection.”

Do not worry that you do not have the perfect plan.  Concentrate on developing and following your imperfect plan.  Just having a plan will put you ahead of 90% of the traders in the market who are competing with you.

If you are an accomplished trader, a written plan will help you capitalize on your already-honed skills.

If you do not have a plan, then you are like the captain of a sleek ship without a map.  You can go fast, but there is no way to predict where you will go.  You may look like you know where you are going, but it will not take long for you to crash against the rocks or be lost at sea.

I believe so strongly in the importance of a written trading plan that the first thing we do in the Electronic Trader Mentoring Program and the most important thing we do during the Professional Trader Mentoring Week is to develop a comprehensive, executable, measureable trading plan.

As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”

Wishing you success in your trading,  Jeff

Copyright © 2008 by Jeff Quinto

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About the author

Jeff Quinto has been called "America's Preeminent Futures Trading Mentor". Jeff is a 40-year veteran futures trader, former CME member and a world-class trading coach. He has coached hundreds of futures traders, including traders from Hong Kong, France, China, England, Australia, the US and Canada.

Jeff strongly believes that professional traders are world-class competitors, comparable to professional golfers, top tennis players, and Olympic athletes. None of these competitors could have achieved their top-ranked status without first having a world-class coach.

Jeff is that world-class coach for futures traders.

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A word about risk
Trading futures contracts may not be suitable for all investors. You may lose a substantial amount of money in a very short period of time. The amount you may lose is potentially unlimited and can exceed the amount you originally deposit with your broker. This is because trading is highly leveraged, with a relatively small amount of money used to establish a position in assets having a much greater value. If you are uncomfortable with this level of risk, you should not trade these contracts.
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