The solitude of trading can be one of its biggest pitfalls. I've really been struggling over the past week with it. I realised that lack of social interaction was potentially going to be an issue with any long-term trading career-path. That had an effect on the type of strategy I was looking to form in my early days. I always had it in mind that I wanted to go full-time one day, it was always my main goal. So I knew that I would need to have a strategy that kept me motivated, was enjoyable and allowed me some degree of creativity. One of my biggest fears was that I could get trapped into a mundane trading cycle, where all I did was stare at flashing numbers, waiting for hours and hours for an opening where I could actually do something. The problem is that, essentially, what I've just described is exactly what trading entails! Of course, some strategies require a lot more patience than others. I realised quite early on, that unless I found a way to make trading more interesting for me personally, I was never going to crack it. And even if I had the aptitude for trading, I felt that it was only a matter of time before I became jaded and unfulfilled. This is what happened a few months into my trading.
After the initial excitement and genuine interest in studying the sport and the markets had died down, I found that I was getting bored with waiting around for the same limited positions to occur and subsequently, this affected my focus, patience and discipline. I know that if I don't enjoy what I'm doing, if I don't have a rewarding challenge with my work, I will struggle to be at my best. Plus, imagine 40 years (potentially!) of staring at those same flashing numbers, over and over and over and over and over............it would drive me insane! Fair play to any trader who can do that. Life would be a lot easier if I had that same strength of mind. So I knew that I had to find a way of making trading interesting, providing me with new challenges each day and allowing me to really immerse myself in it and think creatively. That's why I decided not to just go for one idea and repeat ad infinitum. That's also why my strategy relies on reading matches. It means that I can enjoy the tennis and allows me to figure things out from game to game with a different perspective on each one. It's also why I don't tend to spend very long on any one game if possible. It keeps things fresh and allows me to enter several games and re-set my mind for each one and the new challenge it brings.
It's certainly something that I think all prospective full-time traders should think about. Trading can be extremely monotonous, especially without social interaction. I do whatever I can to mix things up in between games (it's one of the reasons I started this blog) but don't let anyone tell you otherwise - it's a tough job. I personally have never had any problem working alone in past jobs and enjoy my own company when I'm not working. It's not an issue for me to sit down and read a book, watch a comedy DVD or go for a run on my own. But I still find trading very difficult, day after day, week after week, from a mental perspective. Cabin fever sets in regularly and I have to get out the house in between trades every now and then just to stop me from boiling over with frustration, no matter how well I'm doing that day. I know some people like to post on forums and be part of live trading groups but that doesn't work for me. It's too much of a distraction.
I often wonder whether I'll burn myself out, get fed up of watching tennis and being on the ladders in years to come. That's what happened with my football trading and I loved that sport since I was a kid. Now, I can't even get through a full 90 mins without becoming very bored because I've watched so many games. Not much excites me any more (though the state the game is in today, as I wrote about in a previous post, is another reason why I don't watch much soccer now). I guess that for most pro-traders, the ultimate ambition is to gradually lessen the amount of hours they trade as they become more proficient. That's certainly something I think I'll need to do in order to sustain trading longevity. The idea is to build a bigger bank, use larger stakes and so place less trades in order to gain what I need. At the moment though, it's a daily grind, so to speak. Of course, these things never seem so bad when the profit is rolling in! Sticky patches inevitably lead to more negativity and greater thought towards the future and what it might bring. Hopefully, I'll catch you in a week and my enthusiasm will have been rekindled by a string of green days!