Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Last Ever US Open

It dawned on me today that next week's US Open will probably be the last one I ever trade! As I will be in some distressingly hot country, dressed in sandals and covered in mosquito bites this time next year,  the coming fortnight will be my first farewell to a Grand Slam event that I've worked on for the previous 4 years. I can't say I'm too excited about it though. One mistake many new traders make is putting greater emphasis on the Slams. They gear themselves up mentally more than with standard tournaments and that means putting greater pressure on themselves to make money purely because of the status of the event. This a major error! I learnt a while back that just because it's a Slam, doesn't suddenly make it easier to trade. I see this all the time in my Academy: people trading multiple games at once so they don't miss out on all the opportunities, over-staking, getting over-excited and sucked into the drama and action. You must treat it the same as any other week and that means detaching yourself emotionally.

 In a recent post I said that the challenge has gone from trading and I'm now on autopilot. I wanted to make sure there is no confusion about that because it doesn't mean that what I'm doing is easy. I still have many decisions to make every day, often split-second decisions and in order to do that, you have to be sharp and well prepared. But I've been through the process of making these same decisions hundreds of thousands of times already, so nothing new ever crops up which is going to stump me. As long as I put in the time to research thoroughly (which really doesn't take long at all these days) and make sure I don't become rusty, there's nothing particularly difficult that I need to do. Yes, the markets could change but my ability to find value won't as long as I keep at it. So yes, it's much easier to trade now than it was, say, 2 years ago or even one year ago. The challenges now are different but they aren't ones which mean the difference between a winning month and a losing one. More the difference between a missed opportunity and a taken one.

In essence what I'm saying is that trading has become easier but it's still not easy. It's still a mental battle, only whilst that used to mean battling to remain disciplined, follow my entry and exit points correctly and stop chasing, now those are not issues anymore. I do still have spells of bad variance to deal with and that will never change. During a downswing, the odd doubt has crept into my head in the past. I'm only human and I still make the odd mistake here and there. But the difference is that now, I have experience. I have a strategy and style of trading that suits me and is proven over years. I've been through downswings before and come out of them and gone on to have great runs, so I know I just need to sit tight and trust in my strategies and in my ability to find value.

Paula Ormaechea

Trusting my instinct is the key. I know that I can find opportunities if I just stay patient and trust my gut. The mental battle now is mostly on keeping my focus. The issue with me is that sometimes I'm not motivated enough or challenged enough to both find those opportunities and do the right things once I'm in the market. Also, knowing that I could lose a substantial amount before my trading bank starts to look a little vulnerable, means that it's easy to become complacent or over-confident - two things that are easily over-looked when working on the mental side of trading.

Burnout is a regular occurrence for me too and one that I had to learn to spot quickly and deal with before it ruins my trading. I used to work too hard, much harder than I do now, and it eventually always had a detrimental impact on my trading. It's a skill in itself just being able to know when to trade and when to stop, when to listen to your own body  and take it easy, when to spot the first signs of mental weakness.

That said, when you compare the difficulty of trading 3-4 years ago to now, it's night and day. Although I do more or less the exact same thing with a bank of 5 figures as I used to do with a bank of just 3, it does help to know that I have a large amount behind me and no money worries for the foreseeable future. That enables me to be a little more selective in the market but also a lot more aggressive i.e. I trade less but when I do get involved, I can go for the big wins more often. This is because it matters much less to me about taking some profit from a game. I don't "need" the money now, so I can risk a bit more in order to make more.

So you can see, if you put in the hard work at the beginning, it really can pay off further down the line. The problem for your average trader is that they can't see or don't want to see further down the line. They want success now and they want to do as little as possible to earn it. More on this in my next post!

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