How long does it take to become a successful trader?

‘Years, not weeks or months – and that’s true in any performance field. Neglect of that reality is perhaps the single most common source of trading failure.’’ – Dr. Brett N. Steenbarger


We all have a strong desire to be financially free. This is a noble desire, and forex trading is capable of giving you the wealth you dream of. But this wealth won’t come easily. For you to belong to the small percentage of successful traders, you need to take some steps, plus it requires discipline for you to follow the simple steps below.

Apart from entrenched wrong psychological bias, the most dangerous enemy of a beginner is a deceptive marketer. There are marketers who would tell you the truth (and you won’t be disappointed by what you encounter later, since you’ve been told the truth about the forex markets), and they’ll also offer you the solutions as well. You need to be properly trained by a real market speculator before you can start playing the markets. That person must be a gifted instructor: not all pros can train effectively. You need to see the trainer’s active account history; whether live or demo. And the account should be at least, several months old, and with some profits in it, before you put any trust in the person. Some great speakers can’t just duplicate what they preach. You’ll even see that their trades are against their theories.

How come? I read an article from a guy, and this guy was preaching money management. But in a further example, he said you can turn $100 to any value between $300 to $600 in a month. I believed him instantly because I was a novice. Another trader has always been preaching stop loss for many years, yet he doesn’t use it in his accounts. He’s received several margin calls, knowing that the calls were due to lack of stops, but he still finds it difficult to use stops. Many people would offer to train you for a very short period of time. That’s a warning signal that they themselves don’t know what they’re doing. Beware; trading is much more than clicking ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ buttons. It’s as complex as medicine, and you know how long it takes to be a qualified medical practitioner. I train a beginner for a minimum of 6 months, after which the person continues practicing for as long as needed (one former trainee even suggested that I train each learner for one year because it’s not as easy as people think). If you’re somebody who likes to hear only what you want to hear or you find it unpleasant to do what you know is right, you’ll find forex trading so difficult.

You may have been trading for a while, but a loss of about 50% of your portfolio clearly indicates that you need further training. Despite this, many traders would increase their position sizes, and jump into the markets when they sense a particular instrument is about to go in one direction. Trading for a very long time with very little or no success is also an indication that you need further help.

A great advantage of online trading over all other business (which is not taken seriously by many trainees) is that you can test all your trading ideas on simulation accounts without risking a dollar. However, you must treat each simulation account like real money in order for the practice to be meaningful. You shouldn’t think you’ll be smarter with a live account than simulation accounts. If you can’t make money on demo, then forget about a live account. You need to be humble, patient, and diligent if you want to make progress. You must be honest with yourself. You must trade satisfactorily on demo before you risk your real money – no matter how long it takes.

Your training must take you through all the important concept and aspects of trading. You should be exposed to different ideas that work so that you can later choose what you feel would work best for you. There are many career opportunities in the trading world. I won’t be able to list them here (unless some information on this is personally requested). Perhaps I may expatiate on them in a future article.

If you’re properly trained by a real market speculator, your journey to success would be much easier, and it would be a great edge for you. You’ll know you have a mentor to help you through the difficult terrain. It’s very painful to master the markets by trial and error.

I’ll conclude with 2 more quotes form Dr. Steenbarger:

1. ‘I often tell people to learn first by observing, then by trading in simulation mode, then by trading very small size. The secret to success is surviving your learning curve. If you try to make a living from day one, it’s no different from starting a golf career on PGA tour: you’ll get annihilated.”

2. ‘With structured approaches to learning, we can speed the learning curve, but we can’t repeal it.”

Your questions and opinions are highly welcome.

Thank you.

With best regards,

Azeez Mustapha

Forex Signals Strategist, Funds Manager &Coach


NB: There is risk of loss in trading, but it is possible to be a successful trader

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