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Four Milestones You Must Pass to Become a Trader

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You should have a long-term goal of where you want to eventually get to, but you also need to have short-term goals that are specific, realistic, and measurable.

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Editor's note: Minyanville founder and CEO Todd Harrison will be speaking at the T3Live Active Trader Super Conference coming up on October 6 and 7 in New York City at the Marriot Marquis hotel in Times Square. The theme of the Super Conference is T3's Five Keys to Trading Success. For more information and to purchase your tickets. There are limited quantities available so be sure to reserve your spot!

Most people jump into the stock market expecting instant, grandiose results that are not realistic. Sorry to burst your bubble, but trading success is a marathon, not a sprint! For a lot of people that is hard to hear. They don't want to train, they don't want to get out of their comfort zone, they don't want to change their lifestyle in order to achieve success. They want money to be handed to them on a silver platter.

We are here to tell you the truth: There are no shortcuts. Successful trading is hard work, and any other line of thinking is a one-way ticket to failure.

Trading is a journey, and you need to treat it as such. Back to the marathon analogy for a moment. When you are training for an endurance race, you don't immediately go out the first day and run 26.2 miles, or even 10 miles. The first thing you do is build a realistic step-by-step program to build up your endurance based on your starting point. If you try to run too far, or too fast, you could injure yourself or damage your psyche.

Trading is the exact same way.

Goal-setting is extremely important in life, and especially in trading. Yes, you should have a long-term goal of where you want to eventually get to, but you also need to have short-term goals that are specific, realistic, and measurable.

In this video, I lay out what I believe to be a the four milestones, or checkpoints, that every trader should pass through before trying to take the next step. In my opinion, if you try to bypass one of these milestones, you will end up costing yourself a considerable amount of money in the long-term.



During the Super Conference, we will have several speakers who are far along the trader path explain why it is important to take incremental steps, and how they were able to reach the level they are at today.

1. Trade 100 shares until you have become consistently profitable for a three-month period.

It might get frustrating to trade small size, but during that initial phase you are training your hands, eyes, and, most importantly, your mind. Learn how to punch the keys fast and efficiently, develop a routine for watching stocks, and build good habits. During this period, you should craft a specific style of trading and be able to define your "edge." If it takes you longer than three months to get past this phase, that is OK and normal. Again, in our opinion, if you try to bypass this stage and trade bigger size before you are ready, it will cost you money.

2. Increase share size and manage multiple positions at once.

In the first stage, you want to focus on micro-managing one position at a time, learning the ins and outs of how stocks move. Once you have mastered that skill, it's time to take a step up. Don't increase your share size by 10 times immediately, take incremental steps higher. Trade 200 then 300, and when you have achieved consistently at those levels, then make the jump to maybe 500, 600. Don't ever trade more size than you are comfortable with.

In the same vein, don't go from managing one position at a time to 10. Add more positions incrementally as you get more comfortable and you get more clarity on the market. Eventually, you hope to get to a level of someone like T3's Marc Sperling who often holds 20-30 positions at any given time, but keep in mind that he has been on his trading journey for more than 15 years and has developed his skills over a period of time.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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