‘Set and Forget Forex Trading’ is as simple as its name implies; you simply “set” the trade up and then “forget” about it for a period of time. This has two major benefits: it makes it far easier to stay emotionally disciplined and it also allows you to go about your life as you normally would, because you will not be spending hours in front of your computer over-analyzing the markets…
Often, aspiring Forex traders become lost in a web of confusion with the amount of data that the various financial media outlets plaster all over the internet and television. It is extremely easy to experience “analysis paralysis” while trying to trade forex or any market for that matter. There are so many competing ideas and trading methods along with more fundamental data coming out every day than you could ever hope to digest, it can be overwhelming to even try and make sense of it all and develop a forex trading plan based off this amount of information. One of the biggest psychological mistakes that almost every aspiring trader makes on their journey to success is firmly believing that the amount of economic data analyzed and (or) having a technically complicated or expensive trading method will help them profit in the market. In reality, as most professional traders will attest to, these factors usually have the opposite effect on trading profits, at least after certain point. This essentially means that once you do a certain amount of analyzing market data, any further time spent analyzing this data is likely to have a negative effect on your trading; it causes you to lose money.
Why it’s Counter Productive to Analyze too Much Market Data
It may seem confusing or counter intuitive to the aspiring Forex trader when they first hear the fact that analyzing too much market data can actually cause you to lose money faster than you other wise would. The believe that “more is better”, is a psychological trap that often keeps aspiring traders from consistently profiting in the Forex market and is the reason why many of them blow out their trading accounts and eventually give up all together.
The main reason why this occurs is because human beings have an innate need to feel in control of their life and of their surroundings, it is an evolutionary trait that has allowed our species to perpetuate its existence and ultimately arrive at our current modern day level of civilization. Unfortunately, for the aspiring Forex trader, this genetic trait of all human beings works against those trying to succeed at Forex trading. In fact, most of our normal feelings of wanting to work harder than the next guy or spend extra time studying and researching for our jobs or for school are feelings that are really not beneficial to success in the Forex market.
The problem with trying to apply the idea of “hard work” to Forex trading, is that beyond a certain level of technical chart reading ability and awareness, there really is no beneficial aspect to spending more time on tweaking a trading system or analyzing more economic reports. The bottom line here is that there are literally millions of variables involved in trading the Forex market; each person trading the market is a variable and every one of their thoughts about the market is a variable because these are all things that can cause price to move. So, unless you are somehow able to keep track of every trader in the market and all of their thoughts, in addition to the hundreds of news and economic reports that come out each day, you essentially have no control over price movement. Trying to analyze numerous pieces of economic data each day or trying to come up with an overly complicated trading method is essentially just a futile attempt to control something that simply cannot be controlled; the market.
Thus, the underlying cause of Forex trading failure begins with the idea that traders feel a psychological need to control their surroundings and when this emotional state meets the uncontrollable world of Forex trading it almost always has negative consequences. This problem works to snow-ball itself as well because once a trader loses a few trades he or she begins to get angry and wants to “get back” at the market. The way they do this is by reading another trading book or buying a different trading system that seems more “likely to work” or by analyzing the inner workings of every economic report they can find and trying to predict how it will affect the market’s price movement. Once this process has begun it is very difficult to stop because it makes logical sense to us that if we put more time in and do more work we will eventually figure out how to make more money faster in the Forex market. The difficult truth to all of this is that, as stated earlier, after you reach a certain degree of technical and fundamental understanding, any further research or system “tweaking” beyond that point will actually work against you and the rate at which you study more and do more research is probably about the rate at which you will lose your money in the market.
Less is more in Forex: ‘Set it and Forget it’
So how does the aspiring trader achieve consistent profitability trading the Forex market if we are genetically primed to over-complicate it? The very first step in this process is just accepting the fact that you cannot control the uncontrollable Forex market and checking your ego at the door. The Forex market does not care what you have done in your life before; it has no emotion and is not a living entity. It is an arena where human beings act out their beliefs about the exchange rate of a certain currency pair. These beliefs are a result of emotions, and human emotion is very predictable when it comes to money. The point here is that the people mentioned in the previous section who are doing extensive amounts of research and trying to find the “holy grail” trading system are the ones who are trying to control the market and thus trading based off emotion. These people are providing the predictability for the professionals to take advantage of.
The paradox here is that professional traders may actually do less technical and fundamental “homework” than amateur / struggling traders; pro traders have mastered their trading strategy and they simply stick to their daily trading routine and see if their edge is there. If there edge is not present, then they just walk away for a while because they know that the Forex market is a continuous stream of self-generating opportunities, thus they do not feel pressured or anxious to trade. If their edge does show up then they set their orders and walk away, accepting the fact that any further action will probably work against them because it will be a vain attempt to control the uncontrollable and would not be an objective action.
The logic of set and forget forex trading is this; if your trading edge is present then you execute your edge and do not involve yourself further in the process unless you have a valid price action-based reason to do so. Traders that decide to mess with or tweak their trade once they enter it almost always kick start an emotional roller coaster that leads to over-trading, increasing position size, moving their stop loss further from their entry, or moving their profit target further out for no logical reason. These actions almost always cause the trader to lose money because they were not objectively thought out, but were instead influenced by an emotional reaction that was caused by trying to control the uncontrollable.
In the chart below, we see an example of how many traders get into trouble by being too involved with their trades. As the market retraced back toward the entry point of the pin bar sell signal, emotional traders would have probably exited for a very small profit or near break even because they felt “scared” or “nervous” that they might lose money on the trade.
In the chart below, we can see that just as the market got to about the low of the pin bar sell signal where most traders would have entered, it stalled and then fell significantly lower back in-line with the downtrend. Disciplined traders who do not “meddle” in their trades for no reason would probably have still been short and would have clearly made a very nice gain. Note how a traders could have waited for an opposing obvious price action buy signal to exit the trade…this is exiting on logic and price action rather than emotions like fear or greed.
Make Money and Save Time by Doing…Less?
It is a well-studied fact that traders who trade off higher time frames such as 4 hour, daily, and weekly charts and hold their positions for multiple days, make more money in the long run that traders who “day trade” off intra-day charts. The reason many people are attracted to day trading is because they feel more in control of the market by looking at smaller time frames and jumping in and out of positions frequently. Unfortunately for them, they have not figured out that they have the same amount of control as the swing trader who holds positions for a week or more and only looks at the market for twenty minutes a day or even less. That is to say, neither trader has any control over the market, but day-trading and scalping gives traders the illusion of more control. The only thing we really have control over in trading, is ourselves.
The ironic fact about Forex trading is that spending less time analyzing data and finding the “perfect trading system” will actually cause you to make more money faster because you will be more relaxed, less emotional, and thus less likely to over-trade or over-leverage your trading account. Many people are attracted to speculative trading because they want a way to make money that is “less difficult” than their current job, but they soon forget about that and start spending countless hours digging themselves into a huge psychological trap that most of them never dig out of. All you basically need to do to consistently make money in Forex is master an effecting trading method, develop a written out trading plan based on this method and have a solid risk management strategy, you can then check the market one to three times a day for ten to twenty minutes each time. If your edge (price action strategies) is showing up than you set up your entry, stop loss, and target and walk away until the next scheduled time to check your trades.
Trading in this manner actually elicits a snowball of positive habits that work to further perpetuate your trading success. This entire article can be summarized by the following two sentences: People who spend more time analyzing market data and trying to perfect their trading system inevitably induce a cycle of emotional mistakes that work to increase their trading failures and eventually result in lost money and lost time. People who realize that the market is uncontrollable and build their trading plan around this fact will inevitably arrive at a “set and forget” type mentality that induces an emotional state that is conducive to on-going market success and consistent profitability. The trading method used is not as important as the psychological or risk management aspects of trading, but generally speaking, a method that offers a simple high-probability edge such as the price action trading method is the best method to use to maintain your “set and forget” mindset.