Everyone who is trading, but not for a living, has probably asked themselves this question. When people ask us, we respond: Well, what is a living? For one person, it is $50,000 a year, for another it is $500,000 a year. We don’t know how much money you have or how much you want to make. One trader might risk more and make 100% on his money, but another might risk less and make 30% a year. Some traders may have a losing year — it happens to the best. The real crux of the matter amounts to what is a living for you, and whether you are able to follow a system to make your goals happen. The answer ultimately depends on your self-discipline and whether you have that needed deep desire to win at all costs. Famed trader, Jim Rodgers, gives this perspective:
Most of us don’t have the discipline to stay focused on a single goal for five, ten, or twenty years, giving up everything to bring it off, but that’s what’s necessary to become an Olympic champion, a world class surgeon, or a Kirov ballerina. Even then, of course, it may be all in vain. You may make a single mistake that wipes out all the work. It may ruin the sweet, lovable self you were at seventeen. That old adage is true: You can do anything in life, you just can’t do everything. That’s what Bacon meant when he said a wife and children were hostages to fortune. If you put them first, you probably won’t run the three-and-a-half-minute-mile, make your first $10 million, write the great American novel, or go around the world on a motorcycle. Such goals take complete dedication.
How Much Time is Needed? Not much if you follow a Trend Following system. Trading signals can be generated manually via a simple PC spreadsheet in a few minutes per day. Just keep careful records and a trading log. You can also automate trading signals with products as discussed here.
Orders can be placed before the market opens and do not need hourly monitoring. Most top traders don’t spend all day trading. If the markets are not moving there is nothing to do! What do they do? They manage their trades in 10 to 60 minutes per day. Richard Donchian offered great wisdom decades ago:
If you trade on a definite trend following loss limiting-method, you can [trade] without taking a great deal of time from your regular business day. Since action is taken only when certain evidence is registered, you can spend a minute or two per [market] in the evening checking up on whether action-taking evidence is apparent, and then in one telephone call in the morning place or change any orders in accord with what is indicated. [Furthermore] a definite method, which at all times includes precise criteria for closing out one’s losing trades promptly, avoids…emotionally unnerving indecision.
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