December is now behind us and the new year is in full swing. At first I thought that I would work all the way through December and not take a break at all. But then I got lazy and my brain sort of turned into mush for a few weeks.
It is only now that I’ve crawled out from the comfortable cave of couch-appreciating-snack-devouring-laziness that I realise how much I actually needed a break. I have often written and talked about the importance of down-time, but in all honesty, I have not often needed it as much as I did over the past few weeks. Trading, and life, is a very personal thing to each and every one of us and we often forget that in order to be effective and ‘at the top of our game’, we desperately need mental balance and rest.
We often don’t realise it, but we become fatigued by stress. We may not realise that this is happening because the market stresses us all the time and we get used to it in a way. To a very large extent there is absolutely nothing we can do to influence the market and, as traders, we are only responsible for how we interact with it, or respond to what it is doing. We are only able to react to the outside environment changing, constantly and unpredictably. This in itself is a source of stress as I think we have a deep-seated desire to be in control, and that is the exact opposite of what trading is.
What’s more, we have real money on the line and if we do not react appropriately to the changing market conditions over which we have no influence, we have to deal with the further stress of losing real money.
Trading is difficult – and not for the mentally lazy, as Jesse Livermore once said. Combine this with the stresses and strains of everyday life and whatever your day job is, and it makes for a level of stress that most people cannot understand. Breaking away from it, for admittedly longer than planned, has really helped me a lot. I feel lighter and refocused.
I also re-realised that one of my major downfalls is lack of patience. I trade sometimes out of boredom, rather than opportunity. The reflection and time to literally completely let go of the market has had, I think, a very positive impact on my mental state.
I feel ready to take on another year of trading and aim to be a more consistent and more disciplined trader, and as always… become a little better each day. So here’s to a new year and the ever-exciting journey of learning and improving!
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