Friday, 7 October 2011

Emotional Pressure

A couple of people have asked me 'How can you still make the same mistakes with all your experience?'. They don't understand how someone who has been trading as long as I have, can still lose the plot out of nowhere or can still make errors that novices make. Well I can answer that easily; human emotion. That's what makes this game so hard. We are constantly battling against our own natural emotions when we trade. With time and practice, we can learn to control those emotions better but that doesn't mean that those urges and feelings completely go away. We are always going to be frustrated when a trade doesn't go our way, it's only natural. But we have to learn to deal with it. We are always going to get anxious when our bank starts to dwindle. We are always going to get stressed during a bad run of form. Successful traders just get better at accepting these emotions and dealing with them.

When you rely on trading as a source of income, those emotions are stronger - much stronger. And that is why even experienced traders are never totally immune from doing silly things. The pressure, stress and anxiety involved with full-time trading is immense, especially when things are not going well. Some of the mistakes I've made recently as a full-timer, I would almost certainly have not made as a part-timer. Why? Because there wasn't the same amount of pressure to make money or to protect what I have. You can always reload your bank if it gets blown when you are part-time but if it's your only source of income, that bank is all you have.

The stress of knowing that can make you do stupid things in the heat of the moment, as your emotions run wild. And the more you make mistakes, the more frustrated you get and the worse your mindset becomes. Before you know it, it's too late - you've pressed the self-destruct button (otherwise known as the mouse!) in a moment of panic. All the experience in the world won't necessarily save you when you are straining under the pressure of bills to pay, a roof to keep over your head or family to sustain. The anxiety of needing money can cause you to lose patience and can make you start trying different ways to make cash, such as betting on other sports, changing strategy or forcing opportunities that don't exist. People will say 'Lower your stakes' or 'Take a break' but it's not so easy to do that if it means you might struggle to make enough to survive on.

I've said before that I should never have gone into full-time trading as soon as I did. Even if I started today, I wouldn't be ready. I worked out that this week so far, if I'd held it together and done the right things, I would be +£500 in the green. Instead, I'm £10 in the red. That's all down to pressure affecting my emotions when I trade and making me panic. Overall, it's only a handful of trades that make the difference, showing just what a fine line it can be between success and failure. And when you have such a fine line, it's so easy to end up on the wrong side of it when your emotions take over.

Other experienced traders have written about this pressure. Tradeshark mentioned once in his blog how he went through a rough period where he lost confidence. Caan Berry over on 'Trading the Exchange for 28k in 2011' is currently discovering how personal problems can ruin your trading. My pal Average Guy on 'Betfair Trading Challenge' has been struggling for years to overcome issues that affect his trading, whilst Betunfair forum legend John O'Dwyer on 'Betfair Profit and Loss' has been unable to recapture the highs he experienced as a full-timer last year, right through 2011. And these are just the select, honest few. There will be thousands more who struggle or fail to get over the emotional pressure.

And so if anyone wonders how someone can make such poor errors even after such a long period of trading, I'll just say this; you never know how you will react until you are put under extreme pressure, either financial or from your personal life. You just have to hope that you never find yourself in that position.

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