If perfection is the goal you will fail

perfect circleWhen I was in grade school my friends gave me the nickname “Perfect Paul”. I took it as a badge of honor and signed by name with only the nickname, choosing to forgo my last name.

Why did they call me Perfect Paul?

I would get mad when I had an A minus. When I played basketball I’d pout every time I missed a shot. Tennis lessons always lead to broken wooden rackets (it was the 80s!) even when I won.

I did not enjoy anything, because I was chasing perfection.

When my friends added the nickname “Sour Singh”, I came to realize they weren’t calling me perfect as a compliment.

Even after this realization, I didn’t care. Screw them. My attitude was that I’m better than them, and what’s wrong with trying to be perfect?

A lot.

Not only does the pursuit of perfection cause mental misery, it inhibited me from taking shots at things that would have been great experiences. If I could not control the outcome or know I was going to win, I would not even try.

Over the years I have worked hard at accepting imperfection. I now focus on the journey, and process that leads to the goal, not the goal itself.

Results will likely follow, but they don’t have to be perfect results.

Can you see how this impacts trading?

Most trades are not perfect. Very few stocks setup like those textbook patterns you have memorized. Looking for perfect setups will cause you to talk your self out of almost any trade you want to take.

While I’ve worked hard at accepting imperfection, I still occasionally fall into the perfection trap. A good example is the recent biotech trade I did not take. In this short video, I go over my mistake in not taking this trade.

As you can see, I don’t just review the trades I’ve taken, but also the missed opportunities from stocks on my watchlist. Every week and quarter I do this “missed opportunity” review. Analyzing these stocks that moved without me helps me realize that setups don’t have to be perfect, and seeking perfection ultimately leads to missed opportunities and profits.

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