The purpose a trading plan is not to shackle you down, force you to a rigid set of losing rules, or any other excuse traders make as to why they don’t have one. The main purpose of a trading plan is to allow yourself all the flexibility needed in a time of fear by controlling it during a time of peace.
Put another way, by designing your plan when the market is not open, or your positions aren’t effecting you, then you will not allow fear to take over when the market is open and those positions really are effecting you. The most successful traders all have trading plans. Whether completely written out or simply an internal process, success is not an accident for them. Remember what Mark Caine said, “Meticulous Planning will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous”.
Let's Look at Today's Results & See This In Action
$294.25 made in under 12 minutes. That’s more than the average american makes in 8 hours, this must have been a great day, right?
Absolutely not. This is where traders confuse R’s with Profits.
R=Risk Unit. Whether a trader is trading $250 an R or $10 an R, either way, they should be risking 1 R when taking a trade. The amount being risked is dependent on the skill of the trader, the amount of capital at work, etc.
In R terms, if a trader risking $100 an R makes $200 then they made 2R’s on the day in profits. If the next trader is risking $10 a trade but makes $40, then they made 4R’s on the day.
In profit terms, the first trader obviously made more money, but in R terms, the second trader made more. On a one trade basis, you could easily say the first trader is the better trader. But over the long haul, this can change drastically. This is important because lots of traders on social media will risk $1,000 and try to make $500 to $1,000 and look like a hero to the average joe.
When in reality, that trader is doing little more than looking for a 1:1 payout and trying to use that result to promote themselves online, ultimatley for other intentions be that monetary or egotistical. In either case, the traders that follow them on social media are focused on the dollar signs when the R Return Value is not worth it. If they cannot copy that traders style to a T, then they will not have the finite success that the high dollar risk, low R return trader is getting. This is exactly why so many traders get sucked into the cycle of following traders who win huge amounts of money but they can never copy the success.
They are focused on the money and not on the true results.
Back to today’s results. I typically risk $250 a trade intraday but with the high volatility lately pulled back slightly to risk around $220 per trade. End Results in R’s Today: 1.3375 R’s or 1.34 for rounding purposes.
My plan says 2:1 with a stop moved to break even at 1.5R’s. Now let’s take a look at how this played out.
This is the CTP Calculator. It tracks daily results for day trading and swing trading. It also shows targets necessary depending on entries. It’s available in our premium section if needed. Today I traded 2 stocks, the SPY and IRBT. SPY was a double test of the 1 minute based on the CTP Double Test which we actually teach and IRBT was a custom coded breakdown strategy.
If you’d like to get that double test teaching, you can sign up free here. You can learn this exact same strategy we traded today by signing up to our CTP Group Email List.
Let’s take a look at these setups here.
The first trade was a breakdown using a custom coded combination. When they fire the signal together for the first time on the day, you want to pay attention. You can’t see in hindsight what I saw on the break, which means I saw something that wasn’t really there. IRBT was taken at $65.15 with a stop at $66.25. The 2:1 Target was $62.95. This trade was taken at 9:03 central time. 80 minutes later the current price is $61.00, this would be a 3.77R profit and I exited at break even.
My plan says once in, target is 2R with a stop moved to break even at 1.5R. I can push past 2R if I lock in at least 1:1 when 2R is hit. As in IRBT’s example, this would have been an excellent trailing option at the trade just hit 4:1. Instead, it broke down and immediately popped back, and I exited break even.
My plan said not too, and I can count the number of times one hand I’ve broken my plan this year, yet I did today.
End Result: Break Even. 0R’s.
End Result of Plan: 2R+
The Second Trade was the SPY. This was a double top retest CTP Style. We teach this exact setup to new CTP Group members. It takes 60 seconds or less if you’re interested. I took SPY on the confirmation using my plan. $267.69x$267.20. 2:1 Target was $266.22 with the option to trail for more.
When SPY got down to the previous pivot low and held, I was already out IRBT break even after watching it go 1.8:1 without me. I had broken my plan once already which frustrated me. I was now looking at a trade up 1.3 and thinking how pissed I’d be if this one takes a loss after IRBT fiasco. I overrode my plan a second time and jumped. This is the power of journaling, you must recreate as best you can your reason so you won’t make the mistake again.
Within 4 minutes 2R was hit, and as of this writing, the price has reached $263.68 which would have been 7R+.
I’m not saying you get the bottom on these moves, I’m just showing max potential.
Actual Results: 1.34R
Potential Results: 2R+
The Plan Wins Out
Combined potential results are 4R+. Combined actual results are 1.34R. At $220 a trade that means my plan made $880 (less commissions) and I made $294.25 including commissions. Remember at the start where I said I made more money in 12 minutes than most make in a day yet I screwed up, now do you see why?
This is why we have trading plans. The absolute flawless simply never break their plans once they are built. I consider myself a few steps under that but try extremely hard not to break my plan. The few times I do break it however, the end result typically compounds itself in the wrong way. This is why the trading plan is so important.
It’s built when the market isn’t moving. It’s built when your mind is clear. It’s built in a time of peace so that when the time of risk comes, when that potential time of fear comes, you have something stronger to help you overcome it.
And yes, there will be times when you think the plan wasn’t built for this, I need to override it. Considering the market is moving on average 200+ points this week, you could absolutely make this case.
Yet even with higher volatility than normal, the plan has still beat me by over 1.5x today. Imagine what could happen in a week if this was a regular occurrence!
This is why when the plan is built, you have to follow it as best as you can. And on those days you break your plan, you need to consider shutting down. Something inside you is so off today. Accept it, Improve it, and try again tomorrow. The market is ready and waiting.
Going forward, I will remember this day like many of the others when I violated my plan. I understand nothing works every time, but being consistent with a proven setup gets me so much further than intuition based on tick fever. My plan is designed to help me succeed, and help me overcome myself. I’m still human and I will still make mistakes. But if I remember mistakes are what successful people call experience, then I won’t be so hard on myself. I will use this experience next time to try a little harder to stick to my plan. One trade at a time.