How Long Does It Take To Trade Stocks For a Living?

by Anne-Marie Baiynd,
Professional trader, trading coach, and author.


How long does it take before I can make a stable income day trading and swing trading stocks?

I get asked this question quite a bit, and the answers are most varied. Someone like Charles Kirk might become successful and self sufficient right away, and others without a solid foundation from which to rise up, the time can be much longer.

Trading requires a unique set of skills to come together. The new trader must be willing to study and should possess analytical skills in conjunction with an open mind, apart from rules and preconceived notions…..well, these are my skills that have allowed me the success I have today.

I did not have a background in finance, nor did I work anywhere that would have given me this level of knowledge afforded by those trading for themselves with a background in finance. It took me the better part of three years to get on my feet properly. In speaking with some folks from proprietary firms and such, it seems that the average success path takes around three years.

Common Mistakes That Make Stock Trading Harder & Take Longer To Succeed.

The absence of proper risk controls is the primary reason most traders fail.

Here’s the rule of thumb: Make every trade like it’s the only trade you’ve got.

If you are wise, that means that you attempt to make sure all the signs are in your favor.  Many folks take trades without an edge, and if you don’t have an edge – it is nothing more than rolling dice.  The absence of a reliable trading system opens the door for failure – find one and use it as it is meant to be used.

Put yourself in a box with a proven system – staying inside the lines will keep you out of trouble and minimize your risk exposure.  Jumping from one system to the next is a killer – there is no Holy Grail of systems, and there is no GREATEST teacher.  But there are some very good ones out there.

Manage your impulses and emotions – DO NOT BUY FIRST AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER – leave that type of activity to professionals that really have a handle on what’s going on.  Most of us do not study enough – we end up doing our practice work in the middle of the real game.

What Can I Do To Become a Profitable Trader Faster?

  • Learn to manage risk exposure.

  • Focus on finding the best entries and by default, you will have less trouble with your exits.

  • Find a good trading system and REALLY learn it.

  • Find a trading coach that you can learn from.  Every peak performance athlete has a coach – someone that can understand them and help them through the difficult spots as skill levels grow.

  • Pay attention to yourself and your emotions.  Learning to manage and squash fear and anxiety all day is critical.  Decision making skills are integral to your success.

  • Use playback options on your trading platform so that you can trade in dynamic charts – instead of the static ones that we study. Dynamic chart allows us to practice in a ‘real time’ environment, and practice, practice, practice.

Know What You’re Getting Into. What Stock Trading Is & Isn’t.

Trading is exciting and fulfilling work; making gains each day is like slaying giants. It fills you with a sense of triumph and power. Trading is liberating work; the accomplished traders chooses his hours, vacations where ever he desires, buys anything he wants, and is free of general work shackles.

However, to play well – we must pay. Trading is painstaking work; it is filled with endless hours of preparation and study, particularly in our early years. Trading is not a get rich quick occupation.

Trading requires an unyielding dedication to understanding an environment that constantly is shifting below our feet and around us. The greatest money managers in the world have 50% returns in their best years, but many of us believe we can do much better than them. It takes an extraordinary amount of discipline to remain consistently profitable in the markets.


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Market Merchandise: Currency (Forex), Futures, Options, Stock,
Players: Trader,
Styles: Trading, Position Trading, Swing Trading, Day Trading,

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