When I lived in Cape Town, I got into the habit of hiking nearly every weekend. My friends and I would spend spare time during the week looking for hikes and waterfalls to jump from, and weekends doing just that. It was a lot of fun, and it got the adrenaline pumping good and proper. It would provide me with a weekly dose of ‘man or mouse’ moments; moments in which nothing else existed except for me, the ledge and the water. A split second of being absolutely weightless. Freedom.
These moments, and the quests that led up to them, were what kept me balanced. Over the last year or so that I’ve been in Johannesburg I’ve had very few outdoor adventures and I can feel the psychological impact it’s having on me. While I was physically exhausting myself on a regular basis, my stress levels were considerably lower. I had an escape from traffic, from the telephone and most importantly, an escape from the market. A space and time where none of it existed nor mattered one bit.
I’ve learned that the path I have chosen in life is an extremely taxing one. There are stresses and pressures that I experience trading and can never manage to explain to anyone else. You can try to explain it until the cows come home, but people will never truly understand what it is like being in a constant state of uncertainty.
In the market anything is possible at any given moment and being completely wrong is a regular occurrence. I don’t think we are naturally predisposed to exist in such conditions. We’re taught our whole lives that one needs to find a job that offers security and surety. Trading offers none of that. Everything is in flux all of the time.
It’s for this very reason that I need to hike again. To clear my head. To get in touch with my primal self again so that I can find balance. Exercise keeps us sane. It is a way for us to cope with the stress and pressure, and a way for us to get rid of pent up frustration and anxiety.
It doesn’t matter what type of exercise it is really, but it needs to require every last bit of your focus. As traders we need a hobby outside of trading that can completely absorb us, even if it is only for a few hours. We have to allow ourselves to be completely free from the market for a period each week, so that when we are participating in the market we can do so with a fresh, clear mind. The only way to survive in this game for an entire lifetime is to find balance.
I need to go on a hike.
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