This column was originally published on RealMoney on March 2 at 11:00 a.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.

One of the more complex disciplines in trading is patience. It's extremely important to be patient, but not too patient. After all, nothing ever unfolds in exact accordance with our plans, in trading or in life. There are always unexpected variables that change the game. If you are too rigid in your expectations, you will be far too active as you constantly rotate into position after position, each one failing to live up to your expectations.

On the other hand, too much patience can be expensive. Have you ever found yourself in a position that's going nowhere? It slowly trickles lower and lower, lulling you to sleep without ever inflicting enough pain to force you to close it out. Had you been a little less patient, you'd have closed out the position and put the money to work somewhere else. That's the downside of patience.

"Expect a little, get a lot; expect a lot, get a little." This is a saying that I have heeded for quite a while. If you focus on hitting singles rather than swinging for the fences, you'll score more often. Every once in a while, you'll even hit a home run without really trying.

But if you are always focusing on the big trade, you'll take on way too much risk and hurt yourself. Babe Ruth had a big swing that led to an inordinately high number of strikeouts. Most fans don't think about that. They remember the Babe for his ability to hit the long ball. Unlike baseball fans, our trading account does not have such a selective memory. It books every single trade, irrespective of the gain or loss. So don't expect too much from each trade and you'll find yourself much farther ahead at the end of the game.

Let's look at some singles now.

General Dynamics ( GD) has been in an uptrend for the past couple of years. Up until a couple of weeks ago, it had been trading within a 10% range, creating a volatility squeeze. But the demand persists, and buyers continue to pay higher and higher prices for the shares. Trading volume is a bit lighter than I would like to see, but many an uptrend has been sustained on light volume. Remember, while heavy volume may keep you warm at night, your paycheck comes from price action.


This daily chart shows Claire's Stores ( CLE) in a steady uptrend. Notice how ample supply at $32.50 has halted the advance for the past several weeks. I'd be a buyer at this level, with a stop just beneath current support. Also, note the slight decline in the relative strength index as it makes a series of lower lows. Some hard-core technicians focus intently on daily changes such as these, finding meaning in every little wiggle of this oscillator. I believe this is distracting and takes away from the analysis. I just see RSI as remaining quite strong on pullbacks. Everything else is just noise.

Adaptec ( ADPT) has been on a tear since bottoming last year. The stock has been churning for the past couple of weeks as profit-takers were accommodated by those who believed the stock had even higher to go. By the looks of this breakout, a lot of folks sold too soon.

This weekly chart shows NII Holdings ( NIHD) in a strong uptrend. Most of the price movement has been occurring along the upper Bollinger Band. At some point, this bullish tendency will end, but I don't see any signs of that yet. I'd consider an entry if the stock fell back to established support.

This weekly chart of Cisco ( CSCO) shows a pretty strong run by the bulls. After getting bogged down at $20 back in 2004, the stock has been churning in a pretty tight range as investors have exchanged hope for cash. But on Tuesday, this changed. The stock closed above $20 on more than twice average volume. Thursday, the stock hit $21 on 3 times average volume.

Could it be that the long churning process finally has created a strong enough base to support a sustained uptrend? We can probably expect a little backing and filling, but it's important to watch how the bulls react on any retest of $20. If sufficient demand keeps the price above this critical level, this old war horse just might be off to the races again. If you're long, consider a stop a bit beneath $20.

Be careful out there.

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Dan Fitzpatrick is a freelance writer and trading consultant who trades for his own account. His columns focus on quantitative strategies for trading and investing. Fitzpatrick has lectured throughout the U.S. on the proper use of technical analysis and options trading. At the time of publication, Fitzpatrick held no position in any stocks mentioned, though positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Fitzpatrick cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.