I believe the very best money is made at the market turns. Everyone says you get killed trying to pick tops and bottoms and you make all your money by playing the trend in the middle. Well for twelve years I have been missing the meat in the middle but I have made a lot of money at tops and bottoms.
It pays to write down your plan. You need to know exactly under what conditions you will enter and exit a trade. Do not make decisions on the spur of the moment, when you are vulnerable to being sucked into the crowd. Plans are created by reasoning individuals. Impulsive trades are made by sweaty group members.
Once you think that something is improbable and everybody thinks it, people modify their behavior in a way that makes it more probable. Everyone thought it was so improbable that so many people would default on real estate, it actually created a greater probability that it would happen because more capital flowed into that sector.
Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.
Succesful institutional traders often talk of quitting and going to trade for themselves. Only a handful of them manage to make the transition. Most traders who leave institutions get caught up in the emotions of fear, greed, elation, and panic when they start risking their own money.
I believe that anyone who is intelligent, conscientious, and willing to put in the necessary time can be successful on Wall Street. As long as they realize the market is a business like any other business, they have a good chance to prosper.