3 Key Qualities of “Set and Forget” Trades

Want to know the key to a long and prosperous trading career? What do you think it is? Working longer and harder at it than the others? Calling market tops and bottoms? Perhaps simply winning more often than you lose? It's actually none of those; not by a long shot.

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In price action trading, success stories and longevity is all about preservation of capital, both physical (i.e. money) and emotional (i.e. brain power). As soon as one runs out, you can't trade anymore, and it's as simple as that.

The fortunate flip side is this, though: when the highest-quality set-ups, exacting risk management, and proper execution all come together, the result are high-probability, low-stress, "set and forget" trades.

You can build and sustain your entire career on the back of that very method, and this article aims to decode each of those three qualities in order to show you how to make these lucrative, "set and forget" trades the norm, rather than the exception.

  • What is set and forget

  • The 3 major tips to know

  • Why time does not necessarily equal money

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There is an all-too-common misconception that consistently profitable traders spend long and difficult hours toiling away in front of the monitors. Do you wish there was a better way? A viable day trading method that requires only minutes per day to act calmly on clear signals? Just think of how much stress and hard-earned capital that would save you! If you are thinking "That sounds just too good to be true," believe me, it is not. The mysterious "black boxes" on late-night infomercials are too good to be true. In countless other industries and endeavors, from business, arts, sciences, sports, and beyond, we typically get back in results only as much as we put in (i.e. time and energy). When it comes to trading, though, these same rules need not apply, and here's why not:

You Can Do Less and Profit More!

These "set and forget" trades—the kind that can be taken almost effortlessly, with confidence and conviction, and free from fear and emotion—are actually found whenever a confluence of key factors comes together, both in the market and in the mind of the trader.

Such trades require the patience of a disciplined trader, and working hard to isolate only the highest-quality set-ups, carefully managing risk, and executing with mechanical precision can make "set and forget" trades the rule, not the exception.

Quality #1: "Set and Forget" Trades Satisfy Precise Technical and/or Fundamental Conditions

There is a profound and often underestimated value in being extremely selective in your trading.  Doing so filters out all but the highest-quality set-ups that "follow the rules". This also satisfies your desired parameters, including an exemplary risk reward ratio.

For technical traders out there, that may rightfully include one or a number of proven patterns and/or indicators on your desired time frame(s). This can entail trading based on Fibonacci retracements inspired support or resistance. Pin bar reversals, engulfing bars, dojis, smash bars, or pivots, are others.

These set-ups for which all factors line up in agreement are what we affectionately call "purple cow" set-upsThese are "set and forget" trades every time simply because you believe so strongly in the premise behind them. Wouldn't it be great if every new trade idea could feel like that? Well, it can if you commit to being so unforgiving when qualifying set-ups that any which fail to meet every condition are cast aside. This means potentially staying on the sidelines for days or more until a valid set-up is confirmed.

How to achieve consistent trading

The fastest and easiest way to do just that is to never force a trade because it looks "good enough". Forex trading is not easy, nor are profits guaranteed. You want to be sure you have every probability in your favour before committing even a drop of hard-earned capital to a given position. After all, it is a whole lot better to sit idle and break even than it is to lose money.

Think of the motto "Trade the best, and leave the rest," and let this advice govern each of your trade decisions. You will almost certainly trade less, profit more. This will  help you enjoy your time both in and out of the markets considerably more for it.

See also: How to Make Money from Staying Out of the Market

Quality #2: "Set and Forget" Trades Have Proper Risk Management Components in Place

We as individuals knowingly and willingly assume risk all the time. In trading, though, once we have capital invested and "skin in the game," somehow things change, causing traders to watch obsessively as the market moves, nervously counting profits or lamenting losses in real time as emotion and fear pickle their brains. Sound at all familiar? Well, rest assured that it happens to the best of us! Trading is all about risk: first assuming it, but most importantly, effectively risk management. Too many fail initially to get past the acceptance part of the risk equation, which leaves them emotional, fixated on the markets, and constantly trading amid high stress. When trading feels like this, "set and forget" trades are out of the question!

To manage risk, start by being truly committed to risking a reasonable amount of capital that is no more than 1% of your account each time you trade. Accept that you're willing to lose that amount and no more if the trade goes against you, and recall that we're only trading the highest-quality trade set-ups for which all the desired factors are aligned in favour. This should help breed the confidence and conviction needed to execute with a clear conscience.

What viable formula for calculating risk is there?

One that minimises potential losses, identifies stop and target placement points. This formula can allow full or partial profits to run, depending, of course, on your strategy, preferences, and risk profile.

Fibonacci calculations, support/resistance, trend lines, and percentage move are all common methods, but the point is that a carefully chosen system must be in place to effectively manage risk, and as much attention must be paid here as was to the evaluation of the set-up itself.

It's easy to see how these first two qualities go together nicely, with one complementing the other. If you make it your business to trade with strong conviction, accept the inherent risk and take careful, calculated steps to manage it, "set and forget" trades will follow more naturally, quite possibly with surprising regularity.

Quality #3: "Set and Forget" Trades Are Taken Free from Fear and Emotion

Day trading mechanically and free from fear and emotion can be challenging because you are highly invested in the end results. It is your hard-earned capital on the line, afterall, right?

This is where common fears about financial and emotional losses are born. This adds undue stress, crippling objectivity and judgment, and making it nearly impossible to plan or execute"set and forget" trades. This is also when it really helps to pay more attention to the process than the end results. Before, during, and after executing a trade, focus on your methods, not the money. If you've traded precisely according to your plan, meticulously screening and qualifying the set-up, and then managing risk to the very best of your capabilities, consider that a success in itself! When you do, it becomes that much easier to let go of fear and simply let the chips fall as they may.

What can you control?

We have control over how well and how closely we adhere to our own trading strategy. There are those odd times when the markets defy all logic and reason. Rest assured that trading precisely according to a reputable strategy will always produce favourable results over the long term.

Trading with that knowledge in mind can keep you calm, focused, and reassured while others may panic. It will help even when you do suffer those inevitable (but limited) losses.

It is especially true here that a little change in perspective can go a long way. So try shifting more emphasis on executing your strategy right down to the finest detail. Do not be so fixated on profits. You may be promptly rewarded with clarity, confidence, and consistency, and profits will naturally follow from there.

See also: 3 Ways to Overcome Fear in Trading


One of the biggest misconceptions in all of trading is that time somehow equals money. The idea that successful traders must constantly watch the markets and have active positions.

In all, there is a better way. A way to trade quickly and almost mechanically, free from stress and emotion. It is actually easier than you think. By qualifying set-ups with the keenest eye, managing risk with exacting precision, and leaving fear and emotion on the sidelines where they belong, you'll soon see how "set and forget" trades can become a reality for you, too

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