Traders Ask: How Do You Handle the Daily Stress of Trading?

BellaMike Bellafiore's (Bella's) Blogs, Trading Psychology1 Comment

Hi mike

In your book and in many of your posts and lectures you compering a day trader to a professional athlete. because of the need of showing perfect performance in each game/match/contest and you are right of course.

But i think there is also a big difference. Most professional athletes have to compete for a few days a month at most, when a day trader have to compete every day. As Michael lewis wrote in Liar’s poker: “a trader need to wake up every morning ready to bite the ass of a bear”.  A trader have to show perfect performance every day in order to make a living. in this respect a day trader (imo) is more like a salesman who have to performe perfectly in front of each potential customer every day in order to make a living (bty Lewis also wrote that all traders thet he knows are also a very good salesmen, maybe that is what he meant ?).

Now to my question

Do you have any suggestions for me in how to:

  1. deal with the weary feeling after a long period of trading (competing every day)
  2. deal with the stress of having to make a living every day

is trading in a group can halp?

Thanks again for your book, bloge and all your contribution to us traders


Bella Responds

from the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego

Traders are comparable to pro athletes in that we are paid on our performance and our performance is a function of our skill development.  Too often new traders think trading is about acquiring just knowledge.  It isn’t.  Acquiring knowledge is just the first step in developing skill.  Next comes a large does of intrinsic motivation, supplemented with critical feedback and then the grind of purposeful practice.   Kobe wasn’t born an elite basketball player and and the skill of trading intuition takes years of work to develop.

Each day our goal ought to be to improve.  Each trade our goal ought to be to make One Good Trade.  If we do this then the results can follow.  If we are hyperfocused on money or winning then we will not last as pro traders.   Our job is not to make money it is to improve everyday.

So on Monday say you want to start seeing 1k days.  You are at $500 max.  And let’s assume you need work on your sizing.  Well on Monday your goal is to get better at sizing.  Finding the plays that make the most sense to you and slowly add some size.  Get better.  And keep doing this.  This will be your path to 1k days not walking in the door stressed to the max on putting up 1k.  You can stress all you want about putting up 1k.  It aint gonna happen until you improve your trading skill.

There can be a very thin line between having a great day and being negative on some days.  This can be stressful to some.  This week Greek Vandi found a great set up in M.  We discussed buying M 28 if this area held.  It did.  Greek Vandi got long.  He got shook.  He got in again.  He got shook again.  He tried to get in again but couldn’t.  M exploded up 80c ish.

Negative Greek Vandi sat.  He missed the move by less than a second.  Or so he thought.  We reviewed the trade and found another area to have gotten long which would have got him in that explosive upmove as well.  He lacked just a touch of trading skill for this move.  If Greek Vandi focuses on his P&L than he is left stressed.  Who wouldn’t be.  He missed that trade by a micro second.  Bastards!  If his goal is to improve on his support plays.  Then he has trading M.  And the day is a success.

For me I get stressed out if I am not prepared.  If I have not prepared for an open that can stress me out.  When I had not developed my trading skill in the late 90s that could stress me out as I wondered if I was good enough to compete on that day.  But I should have had someone in my ear telling me to just focus on improving everyday and that stress would have disappeared.

We create our trading stress.  If every trade we focused on One Good Trade and not the results, would there be stress?  If everyday was viewed as an opportunity to improve, would there be stress?

Mike Bellafiore

Author, One Good Trade

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