I still can remember how incredibly frustrated I felt. On some days I felt so incredibly close to breaking through yet at the end of each month my account balanced showed that I was only slightly above break even or in the red.
I wanted to be successful at trading more than anything and was putting in hours of screen time, sacrificing my social life and pouring hours into after-hours homework and research, but the results just weren’t there. Why wasn’t I profitable?
This situation persisted several more years as I stumbled around making every conceivable trading mistake in the book. I jumped from trading system to trading system, timeframe to timeframe, indicator to indicator, instrument to instrument, and on and on.
Needless to say I donated a lot of needless time, money, and energy towards gaining the proverbial “market education”.
So here’s the cold hard lesson that took me years to accept – You are getting the results you’re supposed to get.
If you are finding your trading results disagreeable understand that you are getting the results you’re supposed to get.
As I’ve started to work with more and more traders I can’t help but notice how some traders keep having the same problems over and over again yet dance or skirt away from actually taking the action necessary to make a change.
For instance some traders jump from system to system (or indicator to indicator) like it’s musical chairs thereby avoiding learning the painful lessons which they will be doomed to repeat. I’ve done this myself.
Here’s the thing – get the lesson the experience is offering you, and the experience will leave.
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The truth about mistakes and lessons is that until you get the lesson, you will continue to recreate the experience, escalating in pain until you get the lesson.
So pay attention to your lessons.
Once you get the lesson you don’t need the experience.
He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards a ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast. – Leonardo da Vinci
The sad reality is that most retail traders are just making it up as they go along. They are flying by the seat of their pants and are at the mercy of the winds and temperament of the market.
This lack of self awareness, a learning plan, support, mentoring, and structure create a dog chasing the tail scenario where the learning trader never has the opportunity to properly learn the fundamentals, build on his strengths, tackle skill appropriate challenges, and keep reasonable expectations.
Yet deep down we all understand what it takes to be successful as we see it in every other aspect of our lives and see it across various professions.
You would never see a professional sports team pull a player from the junior leagues and throw him into a big game and expect that junior player to perform at the same level as the professional.
Furthermore could you imagine expecting that same junior player to also be responsible for their own coaching, training, and conditioning? If so you’re just setting this player up for failure.
So back to trading. If this scenario describes you and you are disappointed in your trading results then I have some harsh words for you. As Dan John says, “sorry but you are not good enough to be disappointed.”
If you were a pro and you were turning in the results you were turning in then I could understand your disappointment. However everything else is par for the course.
Now back to my story. For many years I carried a misplaced belief that there was a finish line to becoming a good trader.
If I could just trade a certain # of contracts or had a certain size account, then I would have “arrived”.
The problem was that in the meantime anytime I had a losing session it felt like I was getting further and further from my ultimate goal.
It wasn’t until I consciously accepted the reality that my current circumstances were a reflection of my current aptitude that I was able to begin to make the real and lasting changes necessary to sustain profitability.
I had to own the fact that the results I was getting was the result of the balance between all of my strengths and weaknesses, and that trading is ultimately a continuous journey of ups and downs, mistakes and lessons, self invention and re-invention.
There is no finish line – rather with enough time, effort, practice, and experience the end result will be mastery.
To this day I still have losing days and losing weeks however I now have the faith and belief (backed by experience) that I will have enough winning sessions to balance out the month and year.
And the drawdowns are simply part of the experience – part and parcel of the process.
So I want to help you see that mastery of trading like mastery of any performance activity is a virtuous cycle – it isn’t a fixed journey from point A to point B.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Each trader has their own journey so embrace the path you are on, and view it as an ever-unfolding process.
In my next post I’ll cover some strategies to support you on this journey to mastery.
Until then, Happy Trading!