Become a Successful Trader

December 12, 2019

Goal Setting Ideas for Traders

It’s almost a new year! Time for a fresh start!

As the holidays approach, trading is coming to a close for the year. It’s time to reflect back on the things we’ve accomplished this year and set goals for the new year.

I prefer to begin with a top down approach, taking a step back to look at the bigger picture.

Let’s get the ball rolling with a few exercises…

Dreamlining Exercise

This is the big picture exercise of the bunch and should be done first. I pulled it from The 4-Hr Work Week.

Start by asking yourself, “what would I do if there was no way I could fail, if I were 10x smarter than the rest of the world?”

The goal here is to think big and uncover your passion. The thing you live for. What you’d do whether you got paid to do it or not.

Next, put together a 6 month and 12 month timeline listing the 3 things you would like to be, do, and have.

In 6 months what do you see yourself…


1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________


1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________


1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________

You can repeat the process for a 12 month timeline.

Additionally, what is…

  • One place you’d like to visit?
  • One thing to do before you die, memory of a lifetime?
  • One thing to do daily?
  • One thing to do weekly?
  • One thing you’ve always wanted to learn?

In order to live the lifestyle you want to live, determine your target monthly income. That is, how much money would you need to support your lifestyle?

  • Monthly income:  $________
  • Weekly income:   $________
  • Daily income:       $________

You can use utilize this article on Ideal Lifestyle Costing to help determine this number.

Create a BHAG

The BHAG or “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” exercise is something I picked up from reading Jim Collin’s book Built to Last.

As Collin’s proclaims, “It is more important to understand who you are, rather than where you are going, because where you are going will almost certainly change.”

The exercise starts off by writing down your core values, core purpose, and a really big scary or wild goal you’d like to achieve in 15 years time.

  • Core Values: ____________________________________________

(Values that will not change over your life)

  • Core Purpose: ____________________________________________

(Why were you put here on this earth)

  • 15 year BHAG: ___________________________________________

(Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

Then, create a list for the following year of your…

Top 3 goals to accomplish

1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________

Top 3 things to stop doing

1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________

Top 3 supporting mechanisms to build

1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________

The BHAG exercise helps uncover core values. It is only when our work is aligned with these values that we can be truly happy and succeed.

Weekly 80/20 Exercise

This 80/20 is something I like to do on a weekly basis, usually Sunday night or first thing Monday morning. If you haven’t done an 80/20 of your trading business I highly recommend it!

Start by asking yourself the following four questions:

1. What’s working right now (in my trading & in my life)?
2. What’s not working?
3. What should I be doing more of?
4. What should I be doing less of?

The objective is to stop doing the things that are getting in the way of reaching your goals. Focus on doing the 20% that produces 80% of the results. Put another way, what 20% of people and activities are producing 80% of the positive emotional states and results in your life?

Think & Grow Rich – Self Assessment

The last exercise I would deem the most important. That is because this one really helps us gather a deep understanding of ourselves on many different levels.
It starts by asking a series of questions to which you will respond. Afterwards, you will go back through your answers and re-frame them with a positive and meaningful statement.

For example:

Do you like your occupation? If not, why?
Answer: I love the challenge of trading, and the fact that it’s different.
Positive Re-frame: I strive to be different and do as others do not.

Some of the other questions are…

  • Have you a method by which you can shield yourself against the negative influence of others?
  • Do you face squarely the circumstances which make you unhappy, or sidestep the responsibility?
  • What habits of other people annoy you most?
  • Do you form your own opinions or permit yourself to be influenced by other people?

Questions like these can really help us understand who we are at the core and what things are holding us back from achieving our goals.

I’ve placed the full exercise, list of questions, and interpretation in the member dashboard for VIP members to download.

As Napoleon hill explains,

“You have ABSOLUTE CONTROL over but one thing, and that is your thoughts. This is the most significant and inspiring of all facts known to man! It reflects man’s Divine nature. This Divine prerogative is the sole means by which you may control your own destiny. If you fail to control your own mind, you may be sure you will control nothing else.

If you must be careless with your possessions, let it be in connection with material things. Your mind is your spiritual estate! Protect and use it with the care to which Divine Royalty is entitled. You were given a WILL-POWER for this purpose.

Mind control is the result of self-discipline and habit. You either control your mind or it controls you. There is no half-way compromise. The most practical of all methods for controlling the mind is the habit of keeping it busy with a definite purpose, backed by a definite plan.

Study the record of any man who achieves noteworthy success, and you will observe that he has control over his own mind, moreover, that he exercises that control and directs it toward the attainment of definite objectives. Without this control, success is not possible.”

Trading Plan Review

Sit down with your trading plan printed out in front of you and go through and cross out the things that don’t directly contribute to you placing, managing or exiting a trade. This same exercise can be done with your trading screen itself. Remove any charts or indicators that you are not actually using to trade or manage a trade.

Next, review your trades from the year. Using the following video tutorial from the VIP area, calculate your average winner, average loser, winning percentage and losing percentage. Then generate an R-Multiple and Expectancy. Are there ways you could limit your losses even more on losing trades while still keeping you in the winning trades?

Video Tutorial: Trading Expectancy and R-Multiple (25-mins)

  • What areas of your trading do you struggle with most?
  • In what ways have you improved this past year as a trader?
  • What skills must you master in order to become successful in the coming year?

The goal is to identify a mistake when it happens and not let yourself make that same mistake again. This is no doubt a challenge, but with good journal habits and reflecting throughout the year it can be a fast track to growth and improvement as a trade.

In Summary

Take action! You owe it to yourself.

Schedule an hour one morning to sit down with a cup of tea (without distractions) and go through these exercises. Reflect on the year coming to a close, and look at how you’ve grown. Use these internalizations to formulate new goals and aspirations for the year ahead.

Remember, success isn’t necessarily measured in monetary terms. More money will not bring more happiness if we’re not aligning our core values with our work and striving to reach beyond our limits.

Only when we are completely comfortable with who we are and truly honest with ourselves can we reach success (who’s definition is different for each and every one of us).

Happy holidays to you, your family, friends, and loved ones. I wish you all the best.

See you in the new year!

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About Tim Racette
Tim Racette is a day trader of 15+ years in the E-mini futures and swing trader of stocks. Mountain biker, lover of the outdoors, and explorer. Tim is an ASU Sun Devil and a Chicagoland Native now living in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.
  1. How do you measure success? What methods do you use to set goals?

  2. Another great article Tim! Happy holidays to you and yours as well!

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