This morning I was talking to a coaching client and we jointly realized that to characterize one of the most powerful trading emotions as FOMO actually misses the most important point. FOMO – or fear of missing out – connotates the fear of missing an event which really isn’t the mental set-up causing one to jump into impulsive trades or stay in losers too long.

Instead, the emotional force in play is literally the fear of feeling really bad in the future.


I got out of that loser JUST before it did what I thought it should!

In this case, the academics term – fear of future regret – does indeed more accurately portray the situation. Traders always remember the times they didn’t take the trade or got out of a loser just before it reversed. They remember the loss but more importantly, they remember how downright lousy it felt.

When I work with clients, we often find that “it” is not about the money. It’s usually about the meaning – and the prospect of feeling that bad again keeps all kinds of traders in trades that are unlikely to work. To keep things simple for people, I have often summarized this as FOMO – until today when as often happens, a client helped me learn there really is a powerful difference between understanding a trading discipline danger zone as the feeling of not wanting to feel bad in the future or fear of future regret.