The Truth About How Long Profitable Trading Really Takes

Ah profitable trading. The ultimate goal of any man or women when they first start in the market. We read websites, blogs, magazines etc. and hear all about how you can make a lot of money in the markets.

Yes, this is true but what is difficult to understand is the reality of how hard it really is. 

Most of us,(myself included in the beginning) are blinded by these claims and dive head first into trading not knowing what to expect other than overnight wealth.

Scammers, frauds, whatever you want to call them offer these fake claims of making millions and you can too. This is an unfortunate part of the business we endure day to day. Evil people preying on the less knowledgeable.

Disappointingly, it’s a common trait in many industries, not just ours.  Some of you will read this and think you are or can be an overnight success and that’s great for you.

Unfortunately though, if you want to be in it for the long haul you will experiences many testing times. Just look at my own trading story as an example of that.

So now to the real question as to why you are here.

What is the truth of how long it takes to be a profitable trader?

profitable trading

The simple answer is it depends on the person. Okay, I know you will want more than such a broad answer but let’s go through some examples of what I’m talking about.

People are different. Not one person in the world is exactly the same. The time it takes to get profitable trading varies greatly from one person to the next.  Let’s not beat around the bush here.

It takes the average person a lot of time.  Anywhere from 16 years is a marker.  Now, don’t be alarmed. Some of you can do it in under a year but consistent profitable trading on average takes time to master.

You’ll see below how we can cut this time down substantially nowadays though ! So don’t be disheartened.

It can almost feel like you are in a hopeless situation learning nothing and just wasting time as you go through trial and error. I know first hand exactly what it is like because it took me time  to get my trading consistent.

You wonderful (and obviously smart) readers are here because you are probably tired of hearing the overnight b.s. nonsense. I’ve been in your exact shoes. Sick to death of losing money and tired of hearing how easy and great it is.

Let’s think about it :

  • The average college degree takes 3-5 years
  • Learning a new skill can take 1-5 years
  • Mastery can really only be achieved after 10,000 hours ( Malcolm Gladwell Principle)

Don’t even think after 10,000 hours of practice you are all set to go. There is a very valid point that the way you practice is just as important as the length of time you practice.

Obviously if you are continually practicing bad habits, you will get absolutely no where so the important thing is to learn sound principles from the very beginning.

Your foundation and principles will be better going forward as a result. Then, you will be practicing more efficiently.


Nature Versus Nurture

profitable trading


In many sports or skills in life, there is the nature versus nurture debate. Academics and everyone in between will argue which makes more sense to them.  In trading this debate is no different. In my opinion, some people have natural talent but don't be discouraged by that.

For any of you who don't know, the Richard Dennis story shows that trading can be taught to people that have little to no experience whatsoever in the markets.

So don't be fooled by thinking you were  not born with the right genetics for trading. That is nonsense and any single person out there reading this has the power through hard work to achieve their goals and become a consistently profitable trader.


What can cause you to take longer to become a profitable trader ?

There are many things that can slow down the process of consistency. Above we talked about not practicing efficiently. So let's dig into some of the other ways you may be slowing down the time.

  1. Gambling
  2. Strategy Hopping
  3. No Journalling
  4. Not learning from previous mistakes
  5. Not taking responsibility

Those are some of the most common reasons traders take a long time to overcome hurdles.It's amazing how many errors us humans can make, even the most basic of ones can have such a big difference on our underlying performance.

Let's dig into this a bit more so you can ensure you don't fall victim to them and drastically slow down the time it takes you.



profitable trading

Self explanatory really ! All you are doing is putting trades on all the time for absolutely no reason with no plan for risk or anything. This is the worst case and needs to be addressed rather quickly or you will soon find yourself broke.

The gambling trader (although you aren't a trader if you just gamble) is usually what happens at the very first stage a person enters the stock market. It's an unfortunate part of the learning curve.

You make trading decisions because it looks like it will go up or down. What a load of baloney ...

If you can read this and learn from it, don't do this. Obviously if you are a complete rookie, set up a paper trading account and put on trades just to learn how the software works.

That is completely fine.


Strategy Hopping

I must confess, this was a big thing when I started out. Literally, I could go through many different strategies during a month. From one to the other. Can you imagine the losses you could pile up doing this ?

It's a surefire way to go broke fast !

Now, obviously when you are starting you need to experience the markets to understand the different trading strategies.  But after maybe 3 months of studying, you should have an idea of what kind of strategy and style would work for you be it day or swing trading.


Not Journalling

profitable trading

This is by far the most critical a mistake you can make. How can you improve if you have no real idea of what you are doing in the first place ? You need to write down EVERYTHING about your trading, entry, exits, risk, emotions etc.

Once you have this down to a tee, you will be able to notice patterns in your trading and start to develop remedies for improvement. This can speed up the time it takes to become profitable very quickly.

In fact, if you take anything away from this entire post., this is the most important. You need to track and write down all your trades. Heck, there is even journalling software that does it all for you.

Check out Edgewonk and Tradervue as two good options of trading journals.


Not Learning From Mistakes

make money in the stock market

Obviously, you need a journal to know the mistakes you are making. But you will slow down the time to get consistent if you are not learning from mistakes. It is hard to make certain changes but if you see that something is causing you to lose money, you should find it much easier to adapt.

Mistakes examples  include :

  • Searching for the holy grail strategy ( there is none)
  • Risking too much
  • Not following your trading plan

These are just some common mistake. Trust me, when you look through your statistics, you'll notice tons of them. Not to worry though, once you spot them you can go about fixing them and getting better. It's all part of the growth of a trader.


Not Accepting Responsibility

This is another problem. You are blaming everyone and anyone for your losses and lack of consistency. Where will that get you ?

Absolutely nowhere !

So what can you do?  Own it! Accept that certain things will happen both within and outside of your control over you trading career. Focus on what you can control and take full responsibility for it.

I guarantee if you don't, you'll get nowhere.


Top Traders And How Long It Took Them

Feeling like you are the only one out there not able to break the cycle into consistency. Don't be discouraged. Some famous and well known traders took years to master the craft of becoming a profitable trader.

Here are just a few.:

  • Mark Minervini - Multi Millionaire market wizard took 6 years
  • Paul Tudor Jones - Took over 3 years and still had very big 60-70% losses before making it
  • Jesse Livermore - Came back from many huge losses

Just small example of traders who came back from losing to make millions. There are tons of modern day examples of similar stories so don't be disheartened.

I know sometimes when you are following some traders on twitter it can feel like you are the only one losing but I can tell you that couldn't be further from the truth. Many people out there are struggling and you are most definitely not alone on this.



How To Speed Up The Time It Takes To Make Money In The Markets

Well, the best way is to learn from my mistakes and others. Keep a journal, learn from your mistakes and take full responsibility for your results.   That is the first and most important part of speeding things up. It doesn't guarantee you will be profitable if you follow it but it puts you on a good path.

Another great way to fast track your learning curve is to find a mentor. In the modern day, there are tons of mentors willing to teach their strategies. The hard part is finding a good one. Unfortunately, there are lots of snake oil salesmen trying to sell you a dream when in fact they aren't profitable traders themselves. 



Right, obviously by now you can see that learning to be a consistently profitable trader takes time. How long is entirely up to you. If you can take some advice from this, you may drastically speed up the learning curve.

Some of you may follow this and speed things up, others may not. But would you rather know in one year rather than 5 if you will make it as a trader or not ?

I know what I would certainly choose. Don't be discouraged by how long it takes. Journalling can massively help and keep things moving faster. Some of you may get this after a short period of time.

For the rest of us, it'll take some time as it did for me. If you really want it you'll get there eventually. The very best of luck on your journeys.



Two Step

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