Specialty Skills

Persistence and Perseverance in Trading

Dr. Woody Johnson

I just finished teaching a class on the importance of documenting your trading. It was called “Awareness and Reprogramming.” One of the students complained that documenting was something that they did not enjoy and that it was therefore difficult to follow-through with. Actually, most endeavors that are valuable involve tasks that are not in and of themselves enjoyable. But they must be done regardless if you want to be good at it. Trading is no different. Measuring and documenting your trading is absolutely critical to becoming successful. But, this article is not about documenting; it’s about being persistent in doing those things that despite being distasteful you do it anyway. Additionally, it’s about perseverance; that is, having the endurance to continue despite set-backs, issues and fatigue.

You must have persistence and perseverance in trading; without them, you become undisciplined. The undisciplined are driven by quick fixes and impulsive schemes, and they are at the mercy of greed and fear. As soon as the tick goes against them, they panic, and their minds are no longer focused on what the charts are showing. They see only what the distortion in their perceptions will allow. They are easy quitters when the going gets tough. They continually complain about the market or their losses but seldom do anything constructive about it. Successful achievers stick to their vision despite setbacks. They don’t give up when met with hardships. Successful achievers are relentless and stubborn. They succeed against all odds, and when they are discouraged, they draw inspiration and motivation from their sensory-rich vision along with other tools to support them in remaining focused on what matters most.

Free Trading WorkshopNothing worth having is captured and mastered overnight. It takes time and energy. You need to develop the dogged determination and the endurance to go the distance and become a winner. The drive to persist and persevere is fueled by the initial vision. The closer you get to the goal of process mastery, the stronger the belief and the clearer the vision, the more real it becomes. As you continue this relationship and strive to achieve, the vision fuels the goal of process mastery (rule based planning and trading); and the goal of process mastery fuels the vision. With each tiny, private victory, you are developing more capacity for going to the next level of play. Like training for the marathon, it is achieved through a process of consistently building endurance and strength to go to the next level of achievement. Between the vision and the goal, this revolving course of action acts like a nuclear reactor and puts into motion a self-perpetuating spiral of vision, belief, emotion and reality. This self-perpetuating spiral will change your life from the inside out. This is what motivates men and women to achieve greatness. Greatness is spawned by the development of an inner obsession with honoring commitments and consistent follow-through. Greatness lies in the understanding that it is not focusing on the win but mastering the fundamentals and consistent plan implementation that leads to the win. Greatness is in your grasp—you can program yourself for success with the right combination that unlocks the power of intention. Success is where opportunity meets preparation. Persistence here refers to the single-minded determination that each and every trade must follow all rules. It is an unyielding focus on habitually planning every single action in the markets, and the building of a greater and greater capacity for winning—and winning is defined as religiously keeping your commitments.

There are 5 critical steps to attaining and maintaining strong levels of persistence and perseverance:

First, rekindling and refueling the vision of your purpose every day charges the emotion that sustains you. It reminds you daily of the rewards and benefits of the goal. If you haven’t identified your purpose for trading, take care of this right away. Your purpose is the starting point for successful trading. It is where you connect the “what-matters-most” of your life to the “what-matters-most” in the trade. It is how you infuse a passion for remaining on task to the process of your trading. The vision is what galvanizes your strength and drives you like a turbo jet towards your trading goals.

Secondly, you must firmly anchor the attitude by using this heartfelt statement as your own; “I can achieve anything I set my heart and mind to, nothing is impossible for me if I want it badly enough and am willing to pay the price, for no matter how much work is involved, or how long it takes, or how difficult it is, I can and will achieve.” This belief in self is imperative to remaining focused.

Thirdly, remember to view setbacks, losses and failures as learning opportunities. All great achievers have made innumerable mistakes and have failed, that is what provided the “experience” and the “education.”

Fourthly, always increase your market knowledge by identifying the mechanics that will help you form a foundation in the markets. This can also be termed “a results orientation.” Experiment with different approaches, perspectives and paths.

Fifthly, learn to love what you do and make it fun. Make what you have to do into something that you want to do. Attaining your life goal is what you want more than anything for you and your family and it’s powerful. As you gain more “process mastery” in your trading you will increase the “joy” of doing it well.

Persistence and Perseverance are part and parcel of the A-Game and they must be carefully and consistently developed in order that they are strong enough when needed. Mastering your mental game cannot take place without these energy transformers. This is what we teach in the “Mastering the Mental Game” XLT, Online and On-location courses. Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.

Happy Trading,

Dr. Woody Johnson


This newsletter is written for educational purposes only. By no means do any of its contents recommend, advocate or urge the buying, selling or holding of any financial instrument whatsoever. Trading and Investing involves high levels of risk. The author expresses personal opinions and will not assume any responsibility whatsoever for the actions of the reader. The author may or may not have positions in Financial Instruments discussed in this newsletter. Future results can be dramatically different from the opinions expressed herein. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Reprints allowed for private reading only, for all else, please obtain permission.