Numerous character attributes are often listed as being important for an individual to achieve trading success. One often overlooked is self-confidence. Self-confidence is a measure of your belief in yourself, and has a number of consequences in trading should you lack it.

When starting out to trade, it is important that you objectively assess your level of self-confidence, as being successful requires you to trust and follow your trading plan. If you lack self-confidence, then you are not likely to trust and follow something you have developed, but worse than that, you may be influenced by someone else’s opinion of a stock. Has anybody given you a red-hot tip about a stock before? What did you do? Did they also tell you when to sell it? How did it perform?

In his book ‘Reminiscences of a Stock Operator’ (a fictionalised biography of one of the greatest market speculators, Jesse Livermore), Edwin Lefevre mentions how destructive tips can be to one’s trading. This is coming from a book that was first published in 1923 and is one of the most highly regarded financial books ever written. Back in 1923, tips were considered disastrous, so what makes you think that tips you hear today will be any different? Trust yourself and have confidence in your own trading plan.

When developing a trading plan, it is important that you develop all the steps yourself. By doing this, you will know and understand the logic behind each step in the approach. Should you conduct extensive backtesting, this will also provide you confidence in the approach when it comes to implementing the plan. This confidence will also provide you the discipline to follow the plan.

Furthermore, this confidence and discipline will be vital when it comes to trading the plan with real money.

One way we can also increase our confidence is knowing that we have adopted sound risk management rules. A simple stop loss set when entering a trade should provide us the confidence to enter the trade in the first place. The stop loss prepares us for what potentially will be the worst outcome in the trade, notwithstanding the potential for far great loss.

Confidence is believing in yourself to do what needs to be done. It is a measure of your faith in your ability to do something. It is often suggested that successful people are not afraid to fail. In fact, a lot of successful people have failed along the way to success. However, they all have the ability to accept their failures and move on. They understand that failure is often a natural consequence of trying.

It is important that when you trade with a plan that you have developed, that you do so with a positive attitude and with confidence. As soon as you start to think about missing trades or thinking that the next trade is going to be a loss, it is probably time to review your trade or your own level of self-confidence.

Finally, one thing that will help with your confidence is your own knowledge and understanding of the markets, the products you are trading and various tools you use in your decision making. Competence yields confidence. If you are not competent at something, it is highly unlikely that you will be confident doing it.