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Trader Self Evaluation - Part One

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Trader Self Evaluation is an often overlooked concept that is critical to being a successful trader. In my personal opinion, many losses traders have can be traced back to being unaware of ones self, psychologically. The article below is part one of a two part series that will provide some insight into Trader Self-Evaluation:

Van Tharp Trader Self-Evaluation

What are Seven Key Areas that You Need to Work on to Become More Self-Aware?
By Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.

In my work with traders and investors I believe the most significant work that anyone can do to increase market returns is self work. Really understanding yourself and how you think can give you an edge that others in the market don't have.

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As part of my Super Trader Program, I give a long questionnaire to each trader to do an evaluation of themselves. Some of the feedback that I get is that taking the test is like doing a Ph.D. program! It's that involved.

I consider the ten questions that I give my Super Traders to be the essence of this self-evaluation process, a minimum starting point for this type of work.

This week we'll start this process with just one of the points. My advice to my Super Traders is to spend at least an hour on each question, a day is even better. These questions are meant for you to really dig deep and come up with responses from your core belief structure.

Question of the week: What are seven key psychological areas that you need to work on or are currently working on?

Don't say "none" because that answer really suggests that you are totally unaware of what is going on with you.

We basically live in a society in which we are programmed to feel separate and alone from everyone else, programmed to follow the rules of the games that others invent for us to play. The net result is most people do the exact opposite of what is necessary for success. As you become aware of this, you'll also become aware of all your patterns, beliefs, and emotions that you need to work on or clear out to become more successful as a trader.

Here are some examples that might fit some of you:

  • I really have a fear problem that enters into my trading. I want to make trades but I'm afraid to pull the trigger. And that fear seems to come up in other areas too; I guess I'm really afraid of failure.
  • I have some internal conflict when it comes to working on myself. On one hand I want to, but on the other hand, I'd rather do other things. Working on myself feels like having a tooth pulled. For some reason, I just donít want to do it.
  • I don't have any discipline. Sometimes I just decide to trade. I make almost random trades or take recommendations that Iíve been given, but just certain select ones appeal to me. And the net result is that those trades never seem to work out. (Note: this is also an incomplete answer. What is the selection process? What happens to those trades? Do you cut losses and let profits run? Are you compelled by some emotion to trade?)
  • My mother continually criticizes me. My mother gave me everything when I was growing up, and I'm very grateful to her. But sheís always telling me what I do wrong. In fact, it upsets me to be around her. Yet at the same time, I feel that I must support her. I need to find out why her criticism bothers me so much and what I can do about it.
  • I really don't like to be alone. When I do all of things that are important to trading success, like psychological work, I have to go inside and search and that really disturbs me. Also when I try to meditate, things come up that cause me to be afraid. (And, of course, if you had this response, I'd want you to at least find out what's trying to come up that is causing this).

Those five statements are just examples of what might come up for you. But whatever you find, look thoroughly. What's really going on? What are the emotions you donít want to feel? What are the hidden beliefs? What is the internal conflict where part of you wants certain things and another part wants something else? Who are these parts and what are they trying to do for you? (The concept of 'parts' is covered extensively in the peak performance home study and 101 workshop).

Find out more about Trader Psychology and how you can work on improving your trading here:

Continue reading Trader Self Evaluation Part Two here:


About Van Tharp: World renowned trading coach, author and psychologist Dr. Van K. Tharp, is widely recognized for his best-selling book Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom and his outstanding Peak Performance Home Study program - a highly regarded classic that is suitable for all levels of traders and investors.

Van Tharp Trader Self Evaluation
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