I’ve been putting off writing an article and planned to keep doing so for as long as possible but today is pretty significant so I figure I’ll document what’s going on, hopefully for your benefit. This article is gonna be a bit different because I’m not here to talk about why I’m good at trading. I’m here to talk about why I’m BAD at trading.
My trading career started in the lobby of Short Shark’s pizza business well after closing hours. Now, the thing about Shark is when he gets interested in something he goes all in until he’s mastered it. I’d heard him talk about all kindsa stuff up until this
point and was always able to at least understand what he was talking about, but not with stocks. He never stopped talking about what he was learning and unlike other ventures he or we’d had success with, I had no idea what the fuck any of the shit he was
spewing meant. So one night as we were locking up I asked if he could give me a DVD or a link or something to try to understandwhat he kept going on about. After watching about 5 hours of “beginner” level material I was still at a loss. The next night we
were in the lobby until way too late, and he was getting on about the stocks again and I finally said “I need you to sit me down and show me what the fuck you’re talking about because I don’t get it and if you’re gonna keep obsessing over this shit I might as
well see what it’s all about.”
What 5 hours of “beginner” level material tried to teach me he taught me in a matter of 5 minutes. He worded all the core concepts in terms that made sense to me, and as I looked at what he was doing I kinda started to get it. Fast forward about a week and I was sitting
there at market open with my laptop right next to him and I was ready to dive in. I had paper traded enough to understand the core conceptsand as a sort of proof of concept and I did quite well. So I funded an account, and dove right in. In the first few weeks I was about even,
which isn’t horrible, but once I got it down I started to do pretty well by my own standards. A +$100 week followed by +$200 and so on. Soon I was able to do consistent $400 weeks. I’m sorry if that doesn’t seem like a lot compared to guys who make thousands, but for a normal guy who’d
been working for $13 an hour the year previously I whole heartedly welcomed the chance to make $1,000 a month or more doing something for a few hours
Quickly I realized the difference between me and Shark. He loved it, and I did not. Our profits were roughly the same, yet he had WAY more entries and exits than I did. I was more precise. Why? He enjoyed it. He was taking trades to take trades because he liked trading. Generally speaking I am a very calm, methodical person and that was my great strength. I could sit on my hands all day, or for a few days, and wait for setups that were very likely to pay me, and
I was getting paid. I would refer to this as the best time period of my life. I had a new job that paid me great money to work weekends, a hobby that paid me great money to dick around with my buddy in the mornings, and free time to do whatever I wanted with that money after market closed because I was off all week.
Then that changed.
Right when I decided that I was good enough to start taking trading very seriously my company called me into the office and told me they needed me to start working full time with regular over time. That was great! I’d be making great money at work and great money after work when I traded. I was about to ARRIVE! I never arrived. I crashed and I burned. I started losing money trading and I couldn’t figure out why. It was the stress. The stress of my job never affected me when I worked weekends exclusively. 50 hour weeks were a whole other monster. At this point I probably could have quit my job, taken another part time somewhere else, and kept trading and continued that great life I had before, but I didn’t. Eventually I almost blew up my account and I was done. I was pretty upset because I was good at trading, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I was making great money at work, so I started saving. Saving with the goal that I would quit one day and trade full time because I couldn’t
handle both my job and trading. And I almost made it.
I was closely approaching my goal when I got some inconvenient news. My roommates were moving out of state and I would have to relocate on my own. No problem. Then more news came.
My mom had just been diagnosed with degenerative disk disease and was having a hard time getting around. That sucks, but it happens. More news came. My dad was being relocated
for 6 months while his company worked out a merger. So at this point I had to move, and my mom needed someone to help her out while my dad was away so I moved home. Easy solution!
I could save money quicker and get to my goal faster.
The six months passed quickly and I was even closer to my goal than ever before. I could taste it. Then I got hurt. I was getting ready for work one day and I felt like I got stabbed in the back. After spending the whole night in the ER I found out I had a problem with my spine and it had just caused a massive tear in my back muscles. I was out of work for 7 months doing physical therapy, paying for extras out of pocket that my insurance wouldn’t cover. I had to buy a new car because mine had several issues that made getting around quite difficult with my disability and the next thing I knew I was broke. The money was all gone. When I returned back to work I had $47 until payday which was a terrifying 2 weeks away.
In a perfect world, I should have started trading as soon as I got hurt. I had 15x the capital I had when I had first started trading. I could make what I was making at work with ease. But I didn’t, and I didn’t because I had already learned that I cannot make good decisions when my head isn’t right and my head wasn’t right. I am so thankful that I was with it enough to not try. I could have traded at any period of that time, and I would have lost fucking everything. What does this have to do with being a better trader? Everything.
Part of being a good trader is being honest enough with yourself to know where you’re at. I can think of one trader who made one simple change to his life that cost his trading life hundreds of thousands of dollars before he realized. I can think of another who did the same because of a life choice he didn’t make, and how it affected him. In the time since I stopped trading I’ve seen Short Shark figure this out and every day he sends me his P&Ls to keep him accountable and I am consistently impressed because he too has learned when not to trade.
So what can we do about it? Get your ducks in a row. I couldn’t trade because I was disabled and in tons of pain so I did PT and I’m back to living an normal life. I couldn’t trade because I lost most of my capital so I’m saving more aggressively than I ever have before. I couldn’t trade because my job is too demanding and the stress of both is something I’m honest enough with myself to know I can’t handle if I trade so today I’m making a big change. Today I’m going to start the process of relocating which is the first step towards me getting out of my job and back to trading. Am I trading now? No. I’m not in a place where I could do it effectively, but I’m working on that. If you have something in your life that negatively impacts your trading even a little, don’t trade. Take some time, and solve that problem before it leads to bigger problems. Get that shit taken care of, so you can get on to the better things, and have a better standard of life. I hope you took something from this, and until I’m back to trading I’m doing everything I can to come back with the right mindset so that I can get back to being as profitable as I can be as soon as life permits.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy my first house.