Day trading is a way to make money, and a way to make good money. It is not, however many people may pitch it, an easy ride. There's work that you need to put into it.
As such, day trading stocks or commodities is a job, and a highly lucrative one. It's a job that does require a number of traits to be successful, and habits that need to be ingrained.
The first habit is a good time sense. If you're the sort of person who has trouble crawling out of bed in the morning, or can't think before the second cup of coffee, day trading will only make you miserable. The prime time to assess how you'll be playing the market on a given day is just before the opening bell. The opening bell starts at 9 AM in New York, and that's 6 AM in California and 5 AM in Alaska and Hawaii. It's not enough to be an early riser; you need a good internal clock and scheduling system.
The second habit that's necessary is a good set of quantitative thinking skills. You can make money (and lose money) in day trading just running from your gut hunches. To make informed decisions, you have to be able to read, parse, and understand numbers without having to think about them. You need to be numerate, and be able to do numbers in your head well enough to determine if something is a trend, or a blip, and know how to compensate and act accordingly.
Now I should point out that this doesn't mean you have to be a mathematician. The numbers you will need to know can definitely be learned, even if math was never a strong suit. There are specific numerical skills that can become second nature to you once you get in the game.
The third habit for successful day traders is patience and observational skills - combined with a short memory. It's a difficult skill to learn, not feeling disappointed when you miss catching a stock at its top, or lose money because your intended short never materialized. Don't get caught up when you make a losing trade, and likewise, don't lose focus when you make a big winner.
The fourth habit is dedicated research. While day trading doesn't require devouring accounting statements the way long term conventional investing does, it does need a constant influx of data and analysis, and you need to be proactive about the shares you're buying and selling, making judgments quickly and acting on them. The only way you'll make the right judgment calls is if you have adequate research; don't let the research yen drive you into analysis paralysis.
Keep in mind that much of this research or data analysis isn't done directly by you. The top traders always have a bunch of tools at their disposal and various research and data services at their fingertips.
If day trading is something that appeals as a change of career, you'll need to build a support network - a broker, and some investors willing to help you apply leverage to the market. Understand that it's work - and it's the kind of work that requires focus and intelligence and will power.
If you think you have the skills listed above, day trading offers you an exciting way to potentially make an incredible income. It's a job that you can honestly call “fun" and if you have what it takes, you'll be able to call it “enriching" as well!
Try to learn day trading in small pieces - there's a lot of information out there and it's important not to get overwhelmed!
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