I don’t know what’s wrong with me the last three days but I am not trading up to par. It’s much more eye opening when the market is actually decent and others around me are making money. I’m disappointed (to say the least) by today but I didn’t do anything fundamentally wrong at first. I even made money initially.
I don’t know how to explain it but from the opening bell, I was very unhappy before making even 1 trade. I was probably a 1/10 in confidence. I had no go to idea so I was thinking negatively — “I’m probably be stuck in all the wrong $hit again, watch me start off all red in my first 5 stocks, I just don’t get trading”.
I missed just about every money making trade for no other reason than just not believing it will work and this bled past 10 am too. Then when they all worked (CAR, AEM, CF — which I was the one to alert on the vtf, GM), I couldn’t stop beating myself up and questioning everything I was doing. I took a 1 hour break from the desk, then came back to make random 100 share piker trades…. but eventually got into trouble trading a breaking news stock in VVUS and turned my day gross negative.
These aren’t my worst results but I feel embarrassed to be negative today. If I sat down and analyzed the patterns that I saw, I could probably come up with objective answers why A was a trade and B wasn’t, but I don’t know if that’s the big problem for me right now. It’s doing it in real time and not getting stuck in bs worries like “well i just brought it up and now it’s 10c away from the ideal entry, i cant feel comfortable in this and it’s probably a worse pattern if it actually gets back to my offer”. Maybe I’m just too slow on top of being too scared. My psyche is just a trainwreck right now and I’ll be thankful tomorrow (or at any point) if I just have fun trading at the open again, regardless of results.
Greetings from Singapore. I received the email above from an SMB trader. He is one of those Newbs that make you want to work with new traders. He does everything you could ask and more. So it is in that context that I share his thoughts.
I have had these same thoughts. I have them every quarter. I have had them every quarter that I have traded. I will have them again.
There are times when you feel the markets are too hard. That you just do not get it as a trader. And then there are streaks where you feel you cannot do anything but be positive. The truth is those streaks end as well. You are not as bad as you think when you feel you cannot make money. You are not as good as you think when you believe you will never have another losing day.
A few comments from the above.
Do not concern yourself with how anyone else is doing. Ever. The bank takes your trading check. It is does not cash your trading partner’s. This is a journey about your trading. Do not worry about anyone else, or anyone else’s trades.
Second, you ought to create a roadmap for the open. But you cannot predict how you will make money. You do not want to put pressure on yourself that you must be able to predict where and how you will make money. Trade with an open mind. Have some ideas on how you might make money but then let the market confirm your bias.
And be ready for easy plays to present themselves. Often and easy trade you never knew was coming enters and can make your day. Remember MHS and ESRX from recently? But you must be open to it coming to capitalize.
You will have bad streaks. It is the life of a trader. Keep doing the work the market requires to improve everyday. Keep searching for the patterns that make the most sense to you. Do not be so hard on yourself when you are just a little off. There is a fine line between crushing it and underperforming. You are not selling iPads at an Apple store here.
When you are feeling like the trader above, make the game easier. Lower your tier size. Trade your best set ups. Trade your best time frames. And just put up a positive number. And then repeat the next day. A lack of confidence can infect every future trade. Rebuild it. Soon you will forget you ever were in a trading bad streak.
Finally channel the negative feelings above into energy to improve. Embrace the pain. Use it to rip through charts so you never feel like this again. Use it to archive your best patterns so you never feel like this again.
no relevant trading positions
Very timely post. I was in the middle of nowhere like your trader in January. November and December were awesome but January was terrible. By mid-January I was down 3% which isn’t THAT awful, but I was feeling I could not make any winning trade. I am now a bit better psychologically because :
* I have lowered my position size. Less risk means less pressure and less damage. That is how I controlled the drawdown to -3%. Hell, I have even switched back to sim at some point only to regain confidence.
* I have stepped back a little. I used to take 2-4 trades a day and lost money because the “not-so-good” trades that used to work in December were only producing losers. I have now only made 5 trades in February, all of them were textbook and I am now only -1.1% down YTD.
* I have revamped my Excel sheet where I track most of my numbers (PnL, stats, etc…), only to find out trading crude oil was terrible. Oil was a terrific money maker for Q4 2011 but for some reason is not anymore. Hadn’t I traded oil in January, I would be up by +2% by now. I have picked only 1 crude oil trade since January 19th.
* I was trying to get involved in StockTwits but it turned out it was not a smart move from me. Too much noise, many people posting their (always winning) trades, etc… did not help my confidence either. I shut it down.
Just like in any case of self-doubt, reassess. Take a timeout, forget the charts and work “around” your trading. That won’t improve the market conditions but will certainly be better for your PnL anyway. There’s this famous quote from Dennis Gartman : “Capital comes in two varieties: Mental and that which is in your pocket
or account. Of the two types of capital, the mental is the more important
and expensive of the two.”Good luck to your trader and thanks for the insight as it will help me to regain confidence as well 🙂
Since the trader started the post, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me….” I’d recommend Denise Shull’s book Market Mind Games.
She describes a fairly radical idea, for the world of finance anyway, that we are incapable of making any decision, or taking any action at all without emotion. And the emotional content a trader brings to the markets is perhaps their most significant edge.
“Is the human being inferior because of emotion, or superior because of nuances in meaning that we recognise on a feeling level?”