Life and trading

It’s been a while since I have written anything on the blog. The reason? LIFE! Sometimes life just gets in the way of trading. Things happen. Family issues arise. Health concerns for yourself or someone close. The death of a family member or close friends. This is life and there are times when it is appropriate, more to the point, necessary, to allow yourself to step back from trading. If not physically, then certainly mentally for a while and get some distance, some perspective. Why do we trade? Is it to sit there all day or is it to generate a comfortable living in the midst of living that thing we call life? Walking away, getting distance from the markets gives a fresh new perspective. Over the course of 17 years I have taken off from trading upwards of 6 months at a time. What did I miss? Nothing. I just needed a break because LIFE demanded it.

Trading is a very intense career demanding focus, discipline, and patience just to name a few. And it requires those traits in spades. So even if you can’t take off 6 months from trading, you can take mini vacations from trading. Trade only the morning session, for 3 hours. Leave the afternoons alone, and get some time in with family. Get out of the office, move, exercise, something that is physical to blow off the steam that builds up from sitting there watching every tick of the market. If you have a good Monday thru Thursday, reward yourself. Take Friday off. That is why you got in to trading isn’t it, to have more time and freedom. And if you don’t take time off intentionally, life will find a way to make you take it off without your consent. Life will find ways to force you to get away from the screens.

It’s hard to believe but the market will be there tomorrow. This sense we have that somehow if we don’t get this trade, this entry, this profit right here and right now, it will be the last trade we ever take. Of course we know that is not the case. There will always be another trade, another day, and another opportunity but in the present moment, it doesn’t feel like that. We pressure ourselves needlessly to push and force trades. I ask you, “how many times did you have a great 4 days of trading only to give it all back and them some on Friday?” If you have been trading for any length of time you have done this. Hindsight being 20/20, we realize we probably should have just taken the day off. Now we wish we did. We postponed LIFE because we just wanted one more trade, one more point, or to exceed our weekly goal. That did not work out well did it?

So here are few things you can do to finally get some perspective on trading and your life.

1) Total the actual amount of hours you have spent trading for the previous week and make an honest assessment of whether that total time was spent wisely, productively.

2) Use Pareto’s principle, the 80/20 rule. It says that 80% of your profits come from 20% of your efforts. Take an inventory of what you are doing and see if you can eliminate time spent and trades taken that overall do not contribute to your bottom line and can even be counterproductive.

3) This is a little tougher but sometimes necessary. Ask your spouse, business partner, or friend if you spend too much time sitting at those screens? They are not biased and will give you valuable feedback. You may not like the answer but don’t discount their perspective.

4) Look around and see if there are areas of your life that are out of balance. Health? Relationships? Other obligations you might be ignoring while sitting in front of the screens? Take a good inventory of what’s going on right now and see if there are some areas where life is trying to get your attention. Typically life will tap you on the shoulder. If ignored, those taps become painful. Usually in the form of trading losses.

I say listen to life right now and avoid those painful lessons that you will inevitably have to learn if those area are left unattended and start listening today?

Good Trading!