The #1 Trading Goal for Top Prop Traders: Achieving Consistency

BellaAsk Bella, Bella Daily Update


One of our top traders, perhaps our best, sent us his yearly goals.  I highly await this trader’s goals each year as he often recognizes the most important goal for the upcoming year.  We will reveal the #1 goal for a top trader at SMB in 2023 in this post.

Choosing the wrong goal for 2023 can cause underperformance.  Choosing the right goal can drive a year of trading success.  It is that important.

(The key to making real progress as a trader (Dr. Steenbarger))

We have had years in the past where collaboration has been most important.

We have had years in the past where sizing has been most important.

We have had years in the past where Tape Reading was paramount.

We have had years in the past where Options trading was most significant.

We have had years in the past where adopting a Daily Report Card was supreme.

We have had years in the past where OTC was chief.

We have had years where a focus on One Good Trade was number one.

Most years we have been spot on with the number one goal for traders and firm to focus on.  Doing so has contributed to our growth and past success.

It is not that all of these above are not important most years, it is just that there has been one goal that is most important for an upcoming year.  Please do not gloss over this point.  You have to get your number one goal right at the start of the year to perform at your best.  And this star trader often reveals that paramount goal in his yearly goals.

I asked our trading community on The Twitter to guess this trader’s number goal for the year (tweet below).

And there were some awesome answers as expected.

This was a solid answer from @JonesyCanuck:

This was another excellent response and has been a past number one goal for the firm:


I loved loved loved this one as well:

Firms go through stages as they grow and improve.  Traders go through stages as they grow and improve.  As a firm, that has a great deal of success in the past, our primary goal for the year will evolve and change depending on the market conditions, trading of late, longer-term goals, and our growth.  The number one goal of a trader, who has had as much success as this star trader, will change as well depending on market conditions, his trading of late, longer-term goals, and their growth.

If you have the wrong goal for a trading year that can cause you to underperform.  A focus on the right goal for the trading year is that important.  And I want to be clear that this #1 goal for 2023 would NOT have been the right goal in 2020-21 for this trader or our firm.

There have been many active traders who found the previous year hard.  This star trader in his review said to this point, “I don’t think the market was exceptionally difficult- it was just different.”  That is well said.  In fact, Dr. Steenbarger made the point to our desk often in 2022 that an elevated VIX provides active traders with a bounty of opportunity.

But the market is different.  Some of the best performing strategies that worked well in 2020-21 performed poorly in 2022.  We have to be different.  We have to trade differently.  And whether they should or not, with these opportunistic market conditions, many active traders have struggled.  I suggest that many traders had the wrong goal for 2022, which contributed to their underperformance.  With that underperformance, this demands of traders to shift their focus to the right goal for 2023.

So what is the number one goal for one of the top traders at SMB Capital in 2023?


Maybe if this is the #1 trading goal for this star trader, then you might think about making it your #1 trading goal for the year.

Now what does a trader do to be consistent in 2023?  More on that coming…


Important disclosures

Mike Bellafiore is the Co-Founder of SMB Capital, a proprietary trading desk, and SMB Training, which provides trading education in stocks, options, and futures. Bella, @MikeBellafiore, is the author of One Good Trade and The PlayBook. He welcomes your trading questions at [email protected].