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Trading Psychology

5 Successful Trader Characteristics

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 1/13/2023 4 min read

Today I’ll tell you 5 characteristics that every successful trader I know has:

(a lot of people mistakenly believe great traders are great at math, smart, weird, introverted etc….none of that crap actually matters)

1. Learn Patience:

Patience to let trades play out (if price action is going the right way, if not my rule #1 is to cut losses quickly), patience to study incessantly in the pursuit of profits, patience in understanding that great trading fortunes are not built overnight (although my 2nd millionaire trading challenge student Tim Grittani has now turned $1,500 of his own money into nearly $2 million in just over 3 years a decade after I turned $12,415 into $1.65 million in 4 years….hmmm yoa think we could be onto something?), patience waiting for the proper trading setups and not forcing trades on choppy stocks/stocks with conflicting indicators

2. Discipline:

discipline in cutting losses quickly and not letting them get out of hand, discipline in taking profits when their goals are met, discipline in perfecting & refining their theories and trading habits to take emotion out of trades and make trading into something mechanical which can be repeated again and again, discipline in overcoming the feelings of needing to have profits every day (nope, the best traders understand big profit opportunities come every few days or weeks, NOT every single day)

3. Determination:

determination to grow their accounts over time, determination to try various strategies and investments to find what works best for them, determination to not let losses get to them and to keep on learning, pushing and growing, determination to learn EVERYTHING about what they trade, the sectors, the industries, the market environments in order to be able to make the best trade possible, determination to never give up and to always stay in the game since they understand trading opportunities will pop up again and again and the question isn’t if there’ll be an opportunity to profit, the question is will you be prepared to take advantage of the setups?

4. Independence:

the ability to go against the crowd, to not follow any one person or idea no matter how great the pressure to conform is, the ability to understand that trading can be a very solitary and lonely endeavor as this is not a team sport, the ability to come up with their own ideas, strategies and trading rules that are suited to their own personality, not necessarily what’s popular in the mainstream/accepted financial thinking (whatever that is these days), the ability to think outside the box and reap the rewards by going where nobody else is willing to go.

5. Business over personal:

never taking any trade or investment gain or loss personally and accepting that there are few friends in this business as everyone is out to make a buck, that the best course of action is to act honorably as that is best not just for reputation but for business since the largest gains are made over many years, if not decades, and it does you no good to act only thinking about the short-term

This is all off the top of my head based on what I’ve learned over the past 15 years, because I want MUCH more of this:


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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

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* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (205) 851-0506 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”