Traders Ask: How Do I Overcome My Fear of Failure?

Feb 1st, 2014 | By | Category: General Comments
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Hi Mike,

It’s been a long while since we’ve been in touch and even longer since I was with the SMB team (edited out praise that could be perceived as self-congratulatory).

During my time in California I have made great strides in building a couple of trading strategies. I have been keeping a journal of my strategic development, and while I feel confident with that part, I am in need of your advice regarding the psychological part of trading. My main issue is with procrastination and fear of failure.ask Bella

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While trying to overcome these demons, I’m maintaining an unsatisfying full-time job in order to take care of my wife and two loving sons. Despite these roadblocks, I have back tested the couple of trading strategies I have built on Excel by pulling data from my Tradestation account, and my objective now is to automate my strategies via the Tradestation Easy Language.

By the end of this year I would like to complete my automated trading strategy. I want to believe that the progress I’ve made this past year is a sign that I’m overcoming my personal demons and insecurities and that I am on my way to becoming an accomplished and consistent trader by having a well-thought-out plan and committing to it without any doubt.

However, even with the progress I’ve made, I feel like every now and then my fear of failure and personal doubt continues to resurface bringing with it the tendency to procrastinate. Perhaps the fear is that all my hard work and effort will not result in the outcome that I am expecting and hoping for.

Something I have learned in my journey towards becoming a trader is the importance of having a proper mindset, so I would love any advice you have in regards to keeping focused and on track with my goals.

Thank you.


1. Consider reading Mindset by Carol Dweck. There is nothing more important for a trader than to have a growth mindset. This master book defines the growth mindset.

2. SMBU is offering new and wonderful instruction on building trading systems. Here is our most recent webinar on automated trading systems.

3. You are making much more progress with your trading than for which you are giving yourself credit. You have identified a strength in your trading which you are developing. You are better suited for automated trading, both intellectually and psychologically. I love your work here building automated trading models. This will highlight your quantitative strengths and mask your discretionary psychological underperformance.

4. You ask a fundamental question about performance: How do I work to overcome a weakness?

a) Don’t focus on the weakness. Build from your strengths. You are with your autotrading.
b) Develop the habit of accomplishing small wins. You struggle with a common human hurdle: procrastination. Write down at the start of each day one thing you wish to accomplish today and by a set time. Finish it. Each day you do so you build a reserve of anti-procrastination.

You struggle with a common human characteristic: fear of failure. Seek small wins! Again, challenge yourself to win at one small thing each week. My challenge this week to improve my diet is to eat fish twice a week. This is not that hard. This was after a challenge to eat protein for breakfast. Small win. This was followed by a challenge to eat a salad for lunch for the week. Small win. This after a challenge to reduce my treat calorie intake to 200 daily. Small win.

You get the point. Small wins! At the end of the week note that you accomplished the goal. You are building a reserve of confidence in your ability to win with each small weekly win.

I hope that helps. Keep building from your strengths! To many future small wins for you.

You can be better tomorrow than you are today!

Related blog posts:
Beating Trading Fear
Three Ways to Overcome Your Fears From Past Trades

Mike Bellafiore

One Good Trade
The PlayBook

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  • Interested

    If you truly love the process then success and/or failure mean nothing, they will be both as equally interesting to you and you will continue the process regardless. If the process is just a means to an end, success, you will never get over your issues.

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