I may be understanding something about trading that I did not get before. I have been going through a questioning of myself for months now regarding the logic behind, how does a trader scale
up wihtout thinking about the money? Why scale up if it is not about money? And, how to keep the connection between scaling
up and money from affecting my trade psychology.
I'm not saying I am there, but not saying I'm not... but at some point, the drive behind trading isn't money, at all. It is a way of life.
What I regret about all my financial losses of the past is not that I lost money. It is, that I lost a way of being, or maybe even, a way of feeling.
I was never intending to be an elitist, never even saw myself experiencing the level of success that I previously had. I just worked hard, did the right thing, and money just came. But somehow along that path I came to see myself as someone who had money. The reward for doing the right thing traded places with the goal of doing the right thing... and presto, my goal was money.
It sneaks in on you, starting as a sense of pride and accomplishment, and then makes it's presence more and more known as time passes... from the amount of money that had collected around me... in my bank accounts, lines of credit, financial statements... and also in the fact that other people who also had money were wanting to associate with me, banks were competing to loan to me, taking me to lunch, inviting me to vacations... Even simpler things, like how I viewed what was a reasonable car
or house payment, or how much the dinner bill was at the types of restaurants we had become accustomed to... all started to shape the view of what my life was.
When I trade size my results are not worth doing yet. Something changes and I am no longer in touch with what the market is telling me. I don't want to listen when the stakes are raised, I just hope that I am right. Whlle in the 1-2 contract
range, I almost never have a losing day. If I had one a week that would be high.
The good news is on trading one contract, I have focused on learning to expect 100-200 ticks
a week. Yes I know, it nearly kills me that I know, that that amount is unusually high, and that just going to 5-10 contracts
would be a huge change in value. HUGE. But at that moment, my focus becomes "how much can I make" as opposed to "how well can I trade". I have done meditations, visualizations, pep talks, deep breaths, mathematical studies... It does not matter as I am trying to make a change because, I think I want more money. But when I really think about it, with no one asking me "why?", I am not sure that I do want more money. I think what I want, is a certain feeling back.
I went through many rough times while making way more money than I needed. Money is not what brings happiness. Happiness is a state of mind. I have been nearly torturing myself at times to force myself to trade heavier, but for what?
I see my lack of ability to do that as a weakness, and believe that I should be able to work through that weakness with concentrated effort and discipline. And I should. But trading heavy also brings risk, and there comes a point where I have to ask myself, is making more worth risking more? My initial response is yes. But there is nothing really driving me to have more other than; I believe I should
make more, because I believe I should want to
make more, because I previously had
But really, deep down, maybe I don't believe
any of that really matters anymore.
I enjoy trading. I hated it at first, I saw it as one of the hardest most frustrating pursuits and questioned my sanity for even continuing to put in 80 hours a week at it... but would not quit and knew that I could figure it out. I have figured it out, actually, in my own way. I know what works for me and what doesn't, I know how I interact and interpret, I know that I can trade profitably... as long as I am not concerned with how much...
I have these long talks with my wife, which sometimes she may not actually be listening, but lately I get the feeling she is listening more. She did not want to talk about trading. No one I know wants to. Maybe I don't even want to. But this past week as we were having drinks at a bar perched out on a pier jutting into the Atlantic, watching the real surfers do their thing, one guy with a longboard, probably 60+ years old, catching waves better than a lot of the kids... I told her trading was not really what I was talking about anyway. I was talking about life, and perception, and questioning my future, and wondering what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, how it felt to have had to start over, what happened to my sense of value?
I am good enough at reading a market today that I rarely have times where I just see chaos. I may not be looking at the market from the right perspective always, but I can also typically still understand what is happening as an alternate. The markets give me plenty of opportunities to feel validated about my analysis, and those are starting to accumulate and feel good. I knew when CL crossed a certain point today, I think around 88.80 or so, that it was going to take out 89.30. I nearly knew.
I did not trade it, because of an issue I still have with missing a trade, but there was some deposit made to my self valuation account just by knowing not to short it until it did.
Sounds insane to type it, why not buy? The answer of the moment is, I felt no need to at that point. I feel better trading my plan for the day, and know I will have a better chance at reading things if I don't try to switch gears too quickly. Shifting fast enough to say "stop", but not "go", is still a win to me. Psychologically... And the not
needing to be in is not a bad feeling.
How I got this far from where I started I don't know. Sometimes I just start to type and go with it.
The point is, I am about to go to trading full time, and am starting to see my reason for doing so may be different than what I always assumed it would be. And maybe even, better? I don't want money necessarily, I want something that I can be good at, do the right things and the money will come. That is how my mind works when I remove all the other things that seem like what I "should" want.
Pride in myself, peace with myself, confidence... Knowing I can pay the bills does not hurt, but I am not afraid of that.
First, I can make money if I trade at a size I am comfortable in. So what if it is less than what I thought I should make. And second, futures trading does not require that much size to make a decent amount, depending on the average swing size, and in a market where the ATR
gives enough opportunity, relaxing can make more than leverage.
What I am afraid of is failing again, on a larger perspective. And I think that is the issue to scaling up. It is easier to fail. And so my fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in while I am in the trade, knowing that fact. And maybe it should kick in. I have been beat enough, maybe. OK, yes, I am scared of size right now. That will probably change though.
I bought a mountain bike when I was about 22, knew nothing about it, and went out with a guy who was an expert. I was clumsy, falling all over the place. He rode down things I said I would never consider. ( BTW he had lost his spleen in a bike accident). At the end of the ride as we were talking in the parking lot, loading back up, he said, "Don't look so hard at what you are going over right in front of you, you'll freeze up, it won't feel natural. Just keep your eyes focused futher down the path, think about controlling your speed, and you'll do much better". 10 years later I was leaving all my friends behind as I rode the toughest of the expert trails. One we called "The Vortex" that was designed to break your wrists... I loved that one.
If trading is what I am going to do for a living, there are years ahead of me, there is no requirement to ride the expert trails, or take the large risks. I need to just keep my eyes focused further down the path, control my speed, and have fun. Trade to a size where I ENJOY it. Who am I competing with anyway? Me? I know today, me against myself, I can probably win with less leverage. I feel happy and relaxed about it. Not so worried about what is right in front of me.
Quality versus quantity. Relaxation versus stress. Happiness versus...money.