OAP 076: Options Trading Education – The Importance Of Setting Deadlines & Goals

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Download The "Ultimate" Options Strategy Guide

Our #1 core value here at Option Alpha is that options trading education comes first before anything else. I believe that you have to crawl before you can walk in this business and it's why all of our trading courses, guides, and checklists, podcasts, webinars, etc. are completely open and free. Still, I understand that options trading can be overwhelming and confusing at times with so much to review and consume. Recently, I found myself in the same situation with a development project for the website, and I thought that it would be a great discussion for the podcast and potentially help you in your options education journey.

About a month ago I was hitting a brick wall in rolling out some improvements and changes to the Option Alpha platform. There was so much to do, and I didn't know where to start first. We needed to update SEO stuff, website navigation menus, page layouts, servers, etc. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the workload and assumed it would take months to finish. On the recommendation of one of my coaches (yes I have coaches too!) I implemented a couple of deadline and phase strategies that I cover in the show.

The result is that my team and I finished all of our updates and enhancements much faster than I expected and are off to the next project for you all. And as simple as these strategies might sound during the show, I promise you that they made the world of difference for me in quickly educating myself and organizing my time and activities and I know it'll help you if you take action today.

Setting Goals for Options Trading Education.

  • The Number One Excuse: "I don't have enough time".
  • We all have enough time if we prioritize what is important to yourself and your goals.
  • If the goal is something you really want to do, you need to cut out everything else that is not important.
  • Be regimented in focusing your time on what is important and getting through it.

1. Set a big, hard deadline.

  • When you have a deadline, it motivates you to work harder to get everything completed.
  • For example: leaving for vacation, or when your baby is due - the deadlines are not up for negotiation.
  • The deadline cannot be moved or passed. This forces you to focus on the most critical aspects.

2. Cut your deadline time in half.

  • When a deadline is fast, it gives you a burst of adrenaline and anxiety to get it done.
  • What derails most people from reaching their goals is just the aspect of starting.
  • Cutting your deadline in half forces you to start faster, and you complete it much sooner than you would have.

3. Focus on themes, categories, and phases.

  • You have to focus on smaller subsets that work towards the big ending goal.
  • Focus on one specific section of education, for example, a theme for the week.
  • This can help you find a starting point, putting your focus on areas of struggle.

4. Be accountable to someone else.

  • If you are accountable to yourself, you will always find an excuse for not doing it.
  • Posting publicly allows you to find accountability with your audience or friends and family.
  • Make sure that your accountability partner checks in with you to remind you of your progress.

5. Your goal has to have a reward.

  • You have to identify the rewards that are sufficient to motivate you towards your goals.
  • Reward yourself to psychologically reinforce the actions that you took to get to that point.
  • Reflect on the process to allow you to re-motivated to move onto the next phase.

Option Alpha Podcast Show Notes[FREE Download] Podcast Show Notes & Transcript PDF: No time to read the show notes right now? We've made it incredibly easy for you to save time by giving you instant access to the complete digital version of today's show. Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy 

Free Options Trading Courses:

  • Options Basics [20 Videos]: Whether you're a completely new trader or an experienced trader, you'll still need to master the basics. The goal of this section is to help lay the groundwork for your education with some simple, yet important lessons surrounding options.
  • Finding & Placing Trades [26 Videos]: Successful options trading is 100% dependent on your ability to find and enter trades that give you an "edge" in the market. This module helps teach you how to scan properly for and select the best strategies to execute smarter option trades each day.
  • Pricing & Volatility [12 Videos]: This module includes lessons on mastering implied volatility and premium pricing for specific strategies. We'll also look at IV relativeness and percentiles which help you determine the best strategy to use for each and every possible market setup.
  • Neutral Options Strategies [7 Videos]: The beauty of options is that you can trade the market within a neutral range either up or down. You'll learn to love sideways and range bound markets because of the opportunity to build non-directional strategies that profit if the stock goes up, down or nowhere at all.
  • Bullish Options Strategies [12 Videos]: Naturally everyone wants to make money when the market is heading higher. In this module, we'll show you how to create specific strategies that profit from up trending markets including low IV strategies like calendars, diagonals, covered calls and direction debit spreads.
  • Options Expiration & Assignment [11 Videos]: Our goal is to make sure you understand the logistics of how each process works and the parties involved. If you don’t feel confident in the expiration processes or have questions that you just can't seem to get answered, then this section will help you.
  • Portfolio Management [16 Videos]: When I say "portfolio management" some people automatically assume you need a Masters from MIT to understand the concept and strategies - that is NOT the case. And in this module, you'll see why managing your risk trading options is actually quite simple.
  • Trade Adjustments/Hedges [15 Videos]: In this popular module, we'll give you concrete examples of how you can hedge different options strategies to both reduce potential losses and give yourself an opportunity to profit if things turn around. Plus, we'll help you create an alert system to save time and make it more automatic.
  • Professional Trading [14 Videos]: Honestly, this module isn't just for professional traders; it's for anyone who wants to have eventually options replace some (or all) of their monthly income. Because the reality is that mindset is everything if you truly want to earn a living trading options.

Option Trader Q&A w/ Terry

Trader Q&A is our favorite segment of the show because we get to hear from one of our community members and help answer their questions live on the air. This week's question comes from Terry who asks:

Have a savings of $1 million, no longer employable, trying to utilize a combination of options and ETFs to draw $8,000 to $10,000 a month. Is there some way to actually do that with options?

Remember, if you’d like to get your question answered here on the podcast or LIVE on Facebook & Periscope, head over to OptionAlpha.com/ASK and click the big red record button in the middle of the screen and leave me a private voicemail. There’s no software to download or install and it’s incredibly easy.

PDF Guides & Checklists:

  • The Ultimate Options Strategy Guide [90 Pages]: Our most popular PDF workbook with detailed options strategy pages categorized by market direction. Read the whole guide in less than 15 mins and have it forever to reference.
  • Earnings Trading Guide [33 Pages]: The ultimate guide to earnings trades including the top things to look for when playing these one-day volatility events, expected move calculations, best strategies to use, adjustments, etc.
  • Implied Volatility (IV) Percentile Rank [3 Pages]: A cool, simple visual tool to help you understand how we should be trading based on the current IV rank of any particular stock and the best strategies for each blocked section of IV.
  • Guide to Trade Size & Allocation [8 Pages]: Helping you figure out exactly how to calculate new position size as well as how much you should be allocating to your each position based on your overall portfolio balance.
  • When to Exit/Manage Trades [7 Pages]: Broken down by option strategy we'll give you concrete guidelines on the best exit points and prices for each trade type to maximize your win rate and profits long-term.
  • 7-Step Trade Entry Checklist [10 Pages]: Our top 7 things you should be double-checking before you enter your next trading. This quick checklist will help keep you out of harms way by making sure you make smarter entries.

Real-Money, LIVE Trading:

  • EWZ Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): After nearly pinning the stock at our short strikes, and thanks to the volatility drop, we netted a $600 profit on this iron butterfly trade.
  • VXX Short Call (Closing Trade): One of the most consistent and profitable options trades we can make is shorting pure volatility with VXX and today we closed this naked short call in VXX after a couple days for a $420 profit.
  • DIA Iron Condor (Adjusting Trade): This neutral iron condor in DIA is need of a quick adjustment early this week as the market continues to rally. In this video, we'll discuss why I'm adding an additional put credit spread while also choosing NOT to close out of our current put credit spread due to pricing reasons.
  • COP Short Put (Closing Trade): These single short puts in COP acted as a great hedge for our other bearish bets in oil this month and helped smooth out our returns after we closed them for a nice big profit.
  • TSLA Put Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Although many people thought we were crazy for getting bearish in TSLA this pre-earnings put debit spread trade made us $200 today. After the huge run up from $140 to $260 and getting some technical sell signals, we were pretty sure this stock would pull back.
  • MON Iron Condor (Closing Trade): Following a huge drop in implied volatility we worked hard to close this MON iron condor trade adjusting the order multiple times to fill before the end of the day.
  • IBB Call Debit Spread (Opening Trade): We'll show you how I started searching for a new bullish trade and eventually found a low volatility trade in IBB looking for a move higher to hedge our portfolio.
  • TLT Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): Following the Brexit vote TLT and bonds traded in a nearly $8 range really quickly - even still the drop in implied volatility helped generate a $330 profit for us.
  • XBI Call Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Got lucky picking the exact bottom for our entry in this call debit spread for the XBI biotech ETF which ultimately was closed for a profit of $165 today on the rally higher.
  • COH Iron Butterfly (Earnings Trade): Shortly after the market open we close out of our COH earnings trade for about a $160 profit, leaving just 1 leg on to expire worthless.
  • EWW Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Using some of the technical analysis signals we discovered in our backtesting research, we were able to make a quick $130 profit on this bearish EWW debit spread trade.
  • IBM Iron Condor (Earnings Trade): Shortly after the market opened you'll follow along with me as we watch volatility drop and liquidity come into the market before closing out the position for $250 profit.
  • SLV Short Straddle (Opening Trade): Using our watch list software we decided to continue to add to our existing SLV short straddle position with a new set of strike prices reflective of the move lower in the ETF recently.

Thank You for Listening!

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About The Author

Kirk Du Plessis

Kirk founded Option Alpha in early 2007 and currently serves as the Head Trader. Formerly an Investment Banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group for Deutsche Bank in New York and REIT Analyst for BB&T Capital Markets in Washington D.C., he's a Full-time Options Trader and Real Estate Investor. He's been interviewed on dozens of investing websites/podcasts and he's been seen in Barron’s Magazine, SmartMoney, and various other financial publications. Kirk currently lives in Pennsylvania (USA) with his beautiful wife and two daughters.

  • David

    Thanks, Kirk, for the kick in the pants. Nice podcast (076)for motivation and very well timed. My goal is to fully understand the math and how each options strategy that I use makes money. Additionally, develop a system so that I can easily track my portfolio to the penny. The deadline for my goal is Friday, January 6, 2017 5:00 pm MST