Why You Shouldn’t Focus On Trading Profits

Naturally, people come into the markets to win trades and make money.

But one of the biggest ironies of trading is that those who focus on winning, don’t.

At least not for long.

Why? Let’s take a look…

How do we make money?

The answer is obvious: have winning trades.

Winning trades make money.


But how do we have winning trades?

The answer is: make good trading decisions.

Good decisions lead to winning trades.

So: Good decisions lead to winning trades, which makes us money.

This is pretty intuitive. Nothing new here.

Do good decisions always lead to winning trades?

This is where things get a little tricky… because you can make the right decision and still lose money on a trade.

But how can that be? Aren’t all winning trades the result of good decisions?

Well, no. They aren’t.

Decisions in the face of uncertainty

Let’s say there are two boxes in front of you. You can’t see into them.

You are told that the green box has 3 black marbles and 2 white marbles, while the blue box has 2 black marbles and 3 white marbles.

You must choose to pick up one marble from one of the boxes. And you can’t look into the box as you’re picking it up.

If you pick up a white marble, you win $100. If you pick up a black marble, you lose $100.

Which box would you choose to pick your marble from?

Quite obviously…

… you’d pick the blue box.

It’s simple – you have a better chance of picking a white marble from it.

But here’s the thing…

You could still end up picking a black marble, even though you made the right decision to pick from the blue box.

We can’t control randomness

This small example highlights the dilemma that many traders don’t even know they’re facing…

You can lose money when you make good decisions.

And just as ironic,

You can make money when you make bad decisions

Unfortunately, people tend to be much more excited and influenced by what they can physically see (i.e. outcomes of trades), compared to what they can’t (i.e. the probability of that outcome).

Why you shouldn’t focus on the money

You could certainly make money with bad decisions (due to luck), just like how you could randomly pick a white marble from the green box.

But as you keep picking marbles from the green box, over time you’ll be picking more black marbles and eventually lose money.

So if all you care about is making money, you could be making bad decisions, all the while thinking that you’re making good decisions, and lose money over time.

Making or losing money (at least initially) is not an accurate gauge of whether you’re making good decisions.

So what should you focus on?

Good decisions are the only way to make money trading in long run.

Bad decisions can help you make money in the short term, but your luck will eventually run out.

So instead of focusing on making money, focus instead on making good trading decisions.

What’s a ‘good decision’ looks like

In practice, the only good decision we can make is sticking to our trading rules.

The moment we stray from our rules, it’s a bad decision.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it.

By |2019-03-26T22:35:44+00:00March 26th, 2019|Mindset|10 Comments


  1. Jacques May 22, 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Hi Chris
    You hit the nail om the head, stick to the plan ….

  2. Sivaraj May 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Hi chris
    What an eye opener the past 2 days I entered 5 trades using the daily forex analysis and trendlines going for the short term and you know all the trades went the opposite direction although I told myself I couldn’t
    Go wrong.i lost on all 5 trades.i Huss right decisions can be wrong decisions and vice versa.
    I didn’t think long run and paid for it
    Thanks for your timely advise Chris

  3. graham May 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    excellent point
    well explained

  4. Madhu May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Good learning. Thanx

  5. Terry May 23, 2013 at 1:45 am - Reply

    I will try to send more messages to you, Chris,…and that is the right answer I got.


  6. javier May 28, 2013 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Awesome article.. yet again! thanks chris… always learn refreshing views from your invaluable insights…

    • Chris Lee May 28, 2013 at 5:37 am - Reply

      Hi Javier,

      Thanks! Glad you like this post.

  7. Readul June 1, 2013 at 6:27 am - Reply

    Dear Chris Lee,

    Thanks for your article. Well good decision help you to win. But what are the tools to make a good/logical decision which lead you to win in the probability game.

    Thank you

    • Chris Lee June 5, 2013 at 6:37 am - Reply

      Hi Readul,

      Good question! You might want to start by understanding the environment you are operating in as a trader, then figure out the best way to succeed in it.

  8. gary roberts June 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    So true, if only I didn’t have to be reminded so many times!!!

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