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Experienced traders will tell you, and newbie traders will soon find out that the skill of trading has a very long learning curve. It's commonly said that it takes around six months for a trader to get comfortable and become consistently successful in the markets.  Unfortunately, we don't even begin to count these six months until we're done with our initial education and/or training which could easily add another six months to the timeframe. As mentioned earlier, becoming a consistently successful trader is a long, painful and often depressing process. Each day is truly a battle and the cliché "only the strong survive" is 100% relevant in our field.  

So the question is how do maintain the mental energy to fight this battle everyday for weeks, months and years? My answer is to set goals, set goals, set goals. Anyone who has ever trained under Jason Stapleton, knows that he starts off all of his presentations with a goal setting exercise.  During this exercise he likes to focus on the big picture goals of what you want to accomplish in the long run and although these goals are very important, it's the short-term, simple and easily achievable goals that will help you with those daily battles.
Having a list of goals to attack everyday is a great way to stay motivated day in and day out.  Also by making these goals tough enough to test you, yet easy enough to achieve each day, you allow yourself to get that feeling of accomplishment at the end of each trading day and trust me, that can do wonders for your psyche. As a kid in elementary school, I remember having a foreign language teacher that would reward us with candy each time we used a word correctly. Although it was my long term goal to learn how to speak this language fluently, I centered my focus on simply learning one new word each day so I could receive more candy (Kaizen aka Continuous Improvement). Setting and achieving these small goals kept me motivated throughout the year and before I knew it I was close to reaching my bigger goal.  

Trading isn't any different. Before each day I feel as if we need to set a goal for ourselves. Again, this goal can be extremely simple, as the point is to give us something to focus on. Give it a try and I think you'll be surprised at how coming to the markets with an increased level of focus can positively affect your trading. 

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9/18/2012

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