This post is part of the free beginners Forex course
There are two vital components which are needed to become a successful Forex trader: developing a technically-sound trading plan and executing it on a daily basis. It is also crucial to keep in mind that a trading plan that brings one person success, may not necessarily be as effective or successful for someone else. The reason for this lies in the fact that many of us differ in styles of thinking, risk tolerance levels, and market experience. It is advised that you develop your own personalized trading plan which you are comfortable and which you can then modify as you gain experience and confidence.
A Trading Plan Should Define the Following:
- Trading system rules;
- The discipline needed to consistently carry out your plan,
This is where you descriptively write out your goals about your Forex business. Why do you want to trade? What are you going to do to make your goals happen? How many hours a day will you be dedicated to researching and learning how the markets work? What will you do when you are feeling down and out about your trading? What visualizations do you see in your mind if you were a profitable trader. The only way to became any good at this game is by thinking your the best at it. The best forex traders have the right mindset to make it happen and with the right attitude anything you truly desire will come into your life.
“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill
One of the greatest books on attitude and mindset is “Think and Grow Rick” by Napoleon Hill. This book will literally change your perspective on life and help you create a mindset of abundance. For under $10 you can get a copy of this book here. If you can’t afford a copy of this book or don’t think its important to your education about the markets you are wrong and you probably shouldn’t be a trader.
Trading system rules
Trading system rules is intended to help eliminate emotions as much as possible from your trading plan as emotions can destroy your account and should be avoided as much as possible. Rules, help eliminate the need to think things through, creates a sense of a robotic trading style one with no fear. In the end, your system rules should be used to determine whether you should be in the markets or not. Your system rules should mention the following four sections; setup conditions, entry rules, stop loss rules and your exit strategy.
Setup Conditions: In essence, you are first looking for the proper setup on the charts.What is the overall directional bias of the market? Is it in the direction of your trade? Which currencies will be in your list of currencies that you will trade? What strategies you have decided to use (i.e. trading pin bars or engulfing bars off key support and resistance levels). These initial conditions should all be laid out before even considering a trade.
- In your list of financial currencies to trade?
- Directional bias of the market?
- Trade will use one of your trading strategies?
Entry Rules: Secondly, once your setup conditions have been meet the next process is to determine if the trade makes mathematical sense. Will this trade bear great risk? or will it have a small risk for its reward? Ideally, you are looking for trades with 2:1 reward – to -risk ratio or greater. Another important trading entry rule is not to trade right before or after a high priority economic news announcement.
- Does the trade make mathematical sense?
- Does the trade have 2:1 or greater return over risk?
- Is the trade right before or right after a major news announcement?
Initial Stop Rules: In the next step, you will need to determine if your trade is breaking your stop lose and risk rules. You have to make sure that this section is not just % risk per trade, but per day, week and month as well. This ensures your system against a total breakdown of your trading capital. If your system should surpass these parameters, you should stop trading and use the time off to analyze what went wrong. Also, you should also determine the amount of consecutive losing trades you will not feel comfortable with as an added risk parameter.
- Are you risking more than 2% of your capital on this trade?
- Have I surpassed my daily/weekly/monthly risk tolerance level?
- Am I in consecutive losing streak?
Exit Strategy Rules: If you don’t exit a trade in the green you will never make money in forex. This is where it becomes important to know if your trade is following the trend or against the trend. Do you see any possible agents of the fed with you on your trade? If your trade is against the heavy players it might be wise to have smaller profit targets. Does your trade need to fight major resistance or support levels to make profit? At the end, you want your trades to effortlessly make you money without fighting the market much.
- Do your trades need to go through a major resistance or support level to make money?
- Does your trade follow a path of least resistance?
- Do you have smaller profit targets for counter-trend trades?
In the event that you find yourself trading something other than what your plan has mentioned, then you are deviating from your plan and should then stop trading and re frame from what went wrong and analyze how you can maintain a level of discipline to keep your system from breaking a rule.
In this section of your trading plan, you will answer questions like; What will you do if you do not follow one of the above trading rules? What guarantees will you take your trading seriously? How often will you analyze your trades?
It is highly recommended that you keep a trading journal. This allows you to analyze your trades and measure the success of your plan. My personal recommendation is that you take screenshots of every single trade you take and colour code them based on wins or losses. At the end of the trading week, it is then very helpful to review your trades to measure your actual performance, the mistakes incurred, and what improvements can be made for the following week. For the more technological traders you can use a free service like Myfxbook to track and analyze your trades automatically. In the end, you will need to know your strong strategies and focus more on those that make you money.
To give your plan more substance, have a checklist of what you are looking for in the market before deciding to enter a trade. Doing this helps promote discipline and avoid the careless moves that will only negatively affect your morale and bottom-line.
Trading plans are highly useful and effective as they reduce the possibility of mistakes and irrational decisions based on emotions. Such a plan will help you minimize your risks and thus your losses. In our Advanced Course, we take an in-depth look on how to build a successful trading business plan.