Threads like this really get to the heart and soul of who we really are as people IMHO.
Thank you everyone for being vulnerable and expressing your stories, feelings, and journey on here. I apologize about the length of this but I hope it reaches some traders and perhaps opens some eyes.
In my very humble opinion making a career as a trader has much to do with sacrifice. I often sit out on my surfboard in the open ocean and reminisce about my journey to become a successful professional trader. Although I have "made it" , and achieved consistent financial independence over the past 6 years, the cost has proven extremely great.
I was 26 when i started trading, I was a professional bodybuilder and fitness trainer with no formal education in anything remotely close to finance. I had a young wife who was my lifes love and 2 children (6 and 10 years old at that time).
Clearly defining what i took as my "strengths' that gave me success in my life( Iron discipline and the ability to execute a plan unerringly), I took to the markets guns blazing.
Guys Im really not trying to discourage or encourage anyone. I am mearly attempting to inject a dose of realism into a trade where unrealistic expectations run paramount by sharing my experiences and the rewards/repercussions of it.
I hear stories all the time of people saying how they are the types "who never give up", or who " will always persevere no matter what because they KNOW they can do it!" And other such colloquialisms.
Such a pollyannic attitude of thinking that "if you just hang in there long enough eventually you will win out", or that "if you win some sort of war of attrition with the market ultimately you will become a great trader" is just suicidal. We are inundated in society with the "Rocky" movies and other such "against all odds" type scenarios. Fellas, there is a REASON that these are movies. They are the dream, and they are absolutely the exception to the norm. Primarily done by exceptional people with untapped exceptional qualities.
We ALL want to be like that. We all love to think we are able to separate from the masses. And possibly in some ways we can. In fact I happen to have been an extremely successful champion bodybuilder. It took a massive amount of dedication, work, discipline and fortitude to bring a 265lb shredded physique to a stage. THAT was my gift and I found that trading took that PLUS a WHOLE lot more.
I put in my 10,000 hours of trading forex. I went to the ends of the internet and back. I focused on money management
, risk analysis, price action
, fundamental analysis, etc etc...
ENDLESS hours with no sleep... studying studying... persevering in some blind hope that I could achieve the same successes as many we hear about...
But... Success escaped me.... The doors just kept closing, accounts just kept slowly dwindling down... and the dream was dying a very quiet death.... All the while i found my interpersonal relationships with my wife and kids starting to suffer... More on that later..
I think perhaps it boils down to more than just "Can i make it in trading?" It is more a question of " Do I want to LIVE the traders life?" Frankly I feel that the vast majority are not near adequately ready to answer that question nor are most in anyway prepared for what an undertaking it is.
Being a zero sum business it is truly a journey into a complete unknown hostile battlefield for most without the help of even a compass or a weapon. In alignment with that analogy the odds are overwhelmingly against most. As somber of a thought as that may be, it is the hard truth.
I personally went through a very in-depth study of the marketplace after my first 6 months of floundering about. I studied the infrastructure of what creates the markets(forex, futures, equities, options, bonds, warrants, etc..). I studied how liquidity works, how are orders are filled, the interbank system. I learned about all the players across all the major markets, how they place their orders, what their aims are(commercial, institutional, CB's and retailers, etc). I studied Price Action for endless hours, staring at charts, plotting lines at support/resistance
/supply/demand levels on all time frames to trade to and from. I studied the intricacies of market timing, the Gold fixes, how swap works, how brokers work. I went into in depth studies and read books on fundamental analysis. I learned a tremendous amount about the bond markets, yield
curves, gold/oil ratios, correlating markets. I read every central bank
book I could find. I know about the Fed
top to bottom, the ECB
, the RBA
, the BOE
. From the major players in those banks to how they originated. I studied fractional reserve banking because i wanted to learn how to asses how any of the policy makers could move the prices of currencies in relationship to one another. I read endless books on orderflow
and macroeconomics. I strived to try and understand how and why certain policies and catalysts around the world would move one currency agaisnt the others.
All this time endlessly looking at charts. Hours and hours spent putting in demo trade after demo trade testing and endlessly testing.
I never believed in any technical indicators. I still dont. I always just traded Naked charts. Maybe at the most I used a stochastic early on but id be hard pressed to explain what almost any of the other lagging indicators does. To me they have never made sense. Trust me, I studied ALL of them in massive detail.
I placed together my system using multiple time frames with S/R
, S/D zones, fundamental drivers, watching for news catalysts, my endless charting knowledge of PA, my risk management in place, looking at market timing, pre-panning my trades
, etc etc..... it met with failure time and time again. days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months as I tried tweaking and adjusting, studying harder, working more and more. I REFUSED to be undone! I changed my risk management, time frames, used only PA I thought had the BEST chances of working. I called on help from every trader more veteran than myself and they all gave me advice. Still, I failed.
I figured it must be my psychology. So I delved heavily into self exploration, meditation, read books. Sought out gurus, got my mind right. Tried to identify my fears of losing or attachement to money. I made Goals, endless goals. Every day. I planned my life 10 years into the future in every aspect i could to achieve the "trading mindset".
I felt as ready as ever and went back into the market. More months fell off the chart as my accounts kept slowly dwindling down and dying. If I was using a 3:1 reward to risk Id lose 4 out of 5 trades consistently. It was always a slow bleed.
I then went the path of trying to find a mentor. Someone who could help me to identify my flaws in my trading/self and guide me to correct them. At this point years had already been spent and frustration was starting to set in. I had sacrificed much. My family had fallen apart, my work was suffering, as was my health(which I had prided myself on for my whole life) from the many nights up late trading and focusing. Trying to self sustain on negative returns.
Relentlessly I pushed on.
The mentors all were dead ends. I was watching my close friends starting to achieve success. They tried to help me, going so far as to try and copy their systems. All met with more failure.
More years went by. My wife and love left me with the kids. I made sure the door didnt hit them in the ass on their way out....Such was my obsession to not be undone...
Success did not come with it.
I moved into studying the quantside of trading. Learning to program code. Momentum
trading, Sharpe ratio, etc etc. Trying to learn to achieve positive kurtosis through algo identification of price trends. I delved deeply into this thinking that maybe, just maybe it was my only way. I ran into a brick wall. My algos would get taken out, my hidden markov models did not have the proper risk management protocols built in to keep me safe from many of the hidden liquidity issues in the fx markets and again.... suffice to say, I again was met with more defeat
At this point, utterly defeated, not knowing where to turn. I withdrew deeply into myself and saw what my life had become. I had become a shell of who i once was. I took a long break and a long period of self reflection and came to the end of my rope.
I was busted, homeless, alone, living in my car
and sustaining on $.29 taco Tuesdays at taco bell. I showered at the gym and studied trading on Starbucks Wifi. I had no idea where my wife or kids were until the divorce papers showed up at my parents house since i didnt have a physical address.
When doors open in life. It is wise to walk through them. I believe we all have a calling. Im not religious, but I believe in a higher "self. To listen to the signs of life makes life much easier and it goes more smoothly. It was only after this realization I finally made my decision that the doors were firmly closed on my decision to become a trader. I learned a great deal about finance, markets, ect... but Mostly about myself.
I am far from a fascinating case study. I committed to giving my all to learning these markets much like many other aspiring traders start out. I was never one to easily give up on anything in life.
Tenacity and discipline has given me many of the things in my life I am the most proud of as well as thankful for. There just came a point to where the cost benefit of working to master the markets and live the "lifestyle" became more than I was willing to pay.
I ended up one night sitting on the beach, utterly destroyed, with the barrel of a loaded .44 between my teeth. I sobbed and sobbed and cried out to whatever powers that be that if this was the end for me just give me the strength the pull the trigger.... I got my answer when i woke up in the morning, soaking wet and freezing cold, but alive. That was my bottom.
I was still certain it was possible to trade these markets successfully. There is far to much evidence to support it and I would never be so obtuse as to argue in opposition. I simply came to the simple realization that we are all NOT created equal, nor do we all have the same capacity for successes and failures in different ventures in this life.
I ultimately realized the fact that maybe I had overcomplicated a more simplistic business. That being said it is quite a feat "unlearning" everything. Armed with the knowledge I had nothing to lose I resolved to cut out as much as possible to create a trading system that was simplistic, profitable, and viable. With what i had been through the concepts of losing money being the worst thing that could happen simply disappeared and I started to see profit in my trading.
Then more profits, and MORE profits. To my astonishment in less than 12 months I reached a peak watermark in my finances for life. Unfortunately I cannot say the same about my health or my relationships. I have never met anyone else and feel as though I have truly sacrificed my true soulmate for my fiscal successes. My children dont want to see me as Im afraid I destroyed those relationships too in their formative years in my unrelenting pursuit of success in trading.
All this being said, I have accepted my life where it is. I am listening more than ever to my "inner-self" and going along with the type of life that I feel is more in alignment with who I want to show up as in life. I opened up a small training studio and have rekindled my passion for helping others through fitness.
The vast majority of traders are extremely introverted and highly analytical. While I am certainly the latter, I am by no means the former. Trading is a lonely business. Traders do not really give anything meaningful back to society in the way that doctors, engineers, teachers, and any other more humanitarian type career does. I personally always had a difficult time with that aspect. As a personal trainer by trade I have always loved the aspect of helping people look better, feel more youthful, and improve the quality of an individuals life . It is a different sort of gratification than watching the GBP/JPY go +50 pips
in profit. I am sure we have all heard of and possibly lived(I know i have) through a personal relationship falling apart due to the demands of the financial markets. It, by the very nature, breeds isolation from the rest of society.
Knowing who we are from what we are not is an integral part of our lessons in this world. Once you do know who and what you are it is wise to act in accordance to it.
Make certain the cost of what you want to do with this business is what you are prepared to bear