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Perfection Addiction

Perfection Addiction.

Recently we have been stopped out of a few trades with small losses and it brings up a subject for tonight's commentary.  Trading is not about perfection. It is about probability and progress. All charts fundamental analyses technical analyses and trading plans are built on probabilities. Why then do so many traders strive for perfection So many traders miss trades waiting for exactly the right entry and then beat themselves up when it does not come. The position runs away while they sit there scratching their heads and condemning themselves. 

Other traders will not stop out of a trade because it means a loss.  They would rather hold and hope it comes back even while the stock continues down.  They will say it's only a paper loss until I sell. The fact is whether it is a paper loss or real loss your portfolio balance cannot tell the difference.  The bottom line is that we cannot turn a game of probability into one of 100% certainty. 

This brings us back to some trades last week that we were stopped out for small losses.  These trades were not perfect they were losing trades but they did not hurt us at all.  Keeping the losses small may not be perfect but it is excellent and the losses are all made up with the next big winner.  Our 9% gain on the OVTI trade last week made up for the small losses we took on Tuesday and that's really all it takes to keep our forward progress.  

Perfectionism can be a great help to people in many professions.  A brain surgeon needs to be perfect as one mistake can be fatal to his patient. However perfection for a stock trader can be harmful in many ways.  Perfectionists are always trying to find the Holy Grail of trading. They go from one service to another from one system to another looking for a way that they can be right all the time and have only winning trades. This is perfectionism in action. Not only does this type of irrational behavior and belief undermine and demoralize a trader but it takes away all the enjoyment and fun of being in the market.  The pain of failure or the haunting fear of failure is something that does not escape the person always looking for the perfect system. 

Strive For Excellence Not Perfection
If we have a perfectionist mentality when trading we are setting ourselves up for failure. It is a given that we will experience losses along the way. Trading must be thought of as a game of probability. Our losses that we hope will return to breakeven will eat us up if we refuse to sell them for a loss. If we cannot take a loss when it is small because of the need to be perfect we will watch that small loss grow into a larger loss.  Trading on hope does not work. The markets or a stock can remain irrational for a lot longer than we can remain solvent. 

The goal we should all have is excellence in trading not perfection.  Even more important it is essential to strive for excellence over a sustained period of time as opposed to determining that each trade must be excellent. Trading is a marathon not a sprint. 

The greatest traders know how to cut losses and let winning positions run. Perfectionists often do exactly the opposite. They grab the quick gain and let the losers bleed them to death.  They get in at the wrong time stay in too long and then get out at the wrong time. Perfectionists are always striving but never arriving.  They share a belief that perfection is required in order to be accepted by others. 

The reality is that acceptance cannot be gained through performance or any other external factors. Selfacceptance is the root of happiness and the true beginning of personal evolution.  If you are addicted to perfection try to recognize it and take action to correct it.  Strive for excellence but not perfection.  Remember that perfection is impossible therefore an unattainable goal. Excellence however is very much attainable.

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