One of the most common questions that I receive on the email support line from beginning traders is “How long does it take to become a profitable trader?” Whilst this is a very normal and obvious question to ask at the beginning stages of your trading career, from the view of an experienced trader it reflects the need for more knowledge and training.
As with most things in life, if you become overly fixated on the destination (profitable trading) and forget about the journey, you will lose sight of what matters and of how you actually attain what you are aiming for. Thus, the question of “How long does it take to become profitable?” is actually the wrong question to ask, here are the right questions you should be asking right now and the answers to them…
The right questions to ask….
What does a trader need to do to become profitable?
The first and most important question you should be asking is “What does a trader need to DO to become profitable?”. This is a far more important and practical question to ask than the question in the title of this article.
The reason it’s so important is because you cannot become profitable or worry about “How long…” until you first figure out HOW to become a profitable trader. If you don’t know how to trade the market properly, you of course will never make money trading it. Therefore, what you need to do to become profitable is first learn how to trade properly.
I have a number of articles that get into the topic of learning how to trade properly so please follow the following links to get more information on the answer to this all-important question…
Get Started Learning How to Trade
How to Be in the 10% of Successful Traders
Master One Trading Strategy at a Time
What does it take to become a profitable trader?
The next question you should be asking is “What does it take to become a profitable trader?” This question deals more with the mental / psychological aspects of trading and how to master them. Trading is an intensely solitary and psychology endeavor and if you don’t have the proper trading mindset you will never stand a chance at becoming a profitable trader.
The truth is, not everyone has what it takes to be a trader. In other words, trading isn’t for everyone and before you really start putting money into it, you need to decide if you think you’re a good fit. You need to honestly answer questions like, are you ready to remain disciplined in the face of constant temptation? Are you ready to be patient when you REALLY don’t want to be? Are you read to accept the reality of the market, which is that the market does not care about you or your desires?
Check out this article that asks Do you have what it takes to be a trader?
So, how long DOES it take?
I can hear your thoughts almost, you’re still thinking “OK, Nial, that’s all well and good, but I still want to know how long it will take to become a profitable trader.” Fair enough. I will give you the best and most accurate answer to that question I can. The answer is, there is no definitive answer because each person’s ability is unique.
I know that may not be what you want to hear or what attracted you to start reading this article, but it’s the honest truth and anyone telling you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or is trying to scam you.
So, how long it takes YOU to become a profitable trader depends entirely on, well, YOU. Some people will just have an easier time understanding and applying the trading concepts that I teach in my price action trading course than others. It is true that some people are born with a brain that is better wired for trading and all the pitfalls it comes with than others. That doesn’t mean that you can’t become a profitable trader if you aren’t naturally talented at trading, it just means you may require more study and more time than other traders perhaps.
Here are my final words of wisdom on this topic as I sign off from this trading lesson…
Greed will get you ‘slaughtered’ in the market because it means you will be trading like a pig instead of a bull or bear. Remember, bulls make money, bears make money but pigs get slaughtered; it’s on old Wall Street saying that’s been around for centuries but it is still very true and worth repeating to yourself each day as you analyze and trade the markets.
The mindset that you induce when you ask and worry about “How long until I become a profitable trader?” is a very limiting one and one that hurts your ability to grow and succeed at trading. This question of how long until you become profitable really boils down to one thing, greed. When you’re overly focused on “when will I become profitable?” (essentially being greedy), it causes you to commit trading mistakes like trading too frequently and risking more than you should per trade. These mistakes actually cause you to LOSE money and put you much further away from your goal of becoming profitable. So, you see, focusing on the destination of “being a profitable trader” will actually cause you to become a losing trader, whereas focusing on the journey of learning how to trade properly is actually HOW you become a profitable trader. How long it takes should become irrelevant to you.
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Good trading, Nial Fuller