Even the best forex traders in the world have losing trades – losing is a part of trading – but how do you react when you lose? How do you feel? If you’re angry or sad; chances are you were risking too much, or taking a trade you knew you shouldn’t – or both.
Whether looking at a successful breakout trader, trend follower or scalper; there is always a common theme: they all have a trading system and they stick to it. These traders don’t get emotional when they take a loss; they were trading according to their rules and the trade didn’t work out. They lost a pre-determined amount they were comfortable with and accept it as an unavoidable part of trading. They move on to the next trade, knowing their system is profitable over the long term.
An inexperienced forex trader might open a long position in an uptrend thinking the market is continuing to move up. They didn’t put a stop loss on the trade, as they were confident about the overall direction and worried about getting needlessly stopped out. They think "I’ll exit if it moves against me" … Bearish news breaks and the market quickly move 100 pips against them. They are now looking at a 100 pip loss when it could have been limited to a fraction of that.
Now what? The market snaps back 50 pips. The inexperienced trader is relieved "maybe it’s going back up?!". BAM! classic 50% retrace before continuation: the market falls another 100 pips. This is too much for our trader; he finally cuts the trade at the lows, losing 150 pips. Over the next few sessions the pair recovers to his original entry and beyond, in line with the trend. Did they do the right thing, cutting at -150? Maybe – it well could have continued to fall.
The fact is, our trader should have never been in this position in the first place and was forced to make a less than optimal decision. If they’d had a clear exit strategy in place, there would have been no question about what to do. Their stop loss would have been hit or they would have exited manually, (yet systematically) for a much smaller loss.
Whether your entries are discretionary or systematic, you should always have a clear exit plan for each and every trade. Don’t be left saying "What do I do?"
Plan your exit and react accordingly.