By Guy Adami, stocks editor at OptionMonster. All along I have tried to be somewhat agnostic about my view of the market -- agnostic with the caveat that I am by nature optimistic. But regardless of personal disposition, of course, it's discipline that is paramount in successful trading. And the best way to illustrate this point is by example, as we've seen in recent strategies for both the stock market and gold. In the S&P 500, for example, we pointed out weeks ago that 741 had become the inflection point to watch. When the market traded down and held at that level, and we then discussed trading the bear-market bounce that followed while expressing caution over holding long positions on any close below 741. Now we find ourselves in no man's land. I do not think that a "tradable" bottom has been made yet, so there is no level in particular I am looking at. The 741 area in the S&P that had been a technical support level is now resistance overhead, and we can trade that level with as much certainty as one can have in this volatile environment. With 741 still a ways from current levels, entering into a long or short position now has about the same statistical probability as a coin flip. Also in the last few weeks, we have attempted to offer guidance on gold ( GLD) as a trade. It formed a bearish "double top" pattern as we anticipated at the time, but it does no good to point this out in retrospect for those folks who are still long.
My reason for reviewing both the gold and S&P observations is not to show we were right. To be honest, it is far from that. We bring it up to illustrate how important it is to have a very defined plan of attack and how vital it is to stick to it. If you followed the discipline, the S&P close below 741 should have saved you at least 40 points, while the double top in gold should have saved you at least $75. In the meantime, carefully crafted game plans can help keep spontaneous emotions out of the equation. The ability to act -- and act quickly -- within the confines of a very well thought-out plan will be the difference between making money and losing money. (Disclosures: I currently have long positions in the following stocks: Agrium (AGU), Peabody Energy (BTU), Citigroup (C), Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Nucor (NUE).