I thought this email from reader and commenter Ziad Masri was so insightful, that I asked for his permission to share with others. His key observation, that it's not how long you trade, but how many patterns you observe and act upon, that determines the learning curve helps explain how active traders can develop expertise in far less time than is commonly observed in other performance fields.
Notice also the emotional tone of Ziad's communication. To sustain enthusiasm and learning during the most challenging markets is a real accomplishment. Without that drive, the learning curve stalls out. Many people love trading and love making money. Not so many like the things you have to do to learn markets and make good trades.
Just thought I'd write and share an observation with you. A trader friend of mine and I were talking recently and it occurred to us that the recent market environment not only is giving incredible opportunities for some large profits, but it is also giving incredible opportunities for accelerated learning. With volatility running at all time highs, what used to take 2 weeks to transpire is now taking one day (like you alluded to in your ATR study). As such, and with the abundance of trends that we're seeing, there are literally hundreds of more patterns appearing in a given time-frame than we used to see before. I remember early last year I'd sit there and watch the market for hours as it moved in a 6 point range with nothing happening. Now it's almost non-stop action. The effect of all this extra exposure has been accelerated learning.
This was all brought home to me when I noticed starting a couple of months ago that my trading skills seemed to make an instant leap. I was suddenly seeing the market differently and being able to sense moves to a much better degree. I couldn't understand the reason for this, but now I see it was the result of accelerated learning given the market conditions of late. Quite literally, it's as if I just got 2 years of added experience compressed within 2 months. Realizing this has not only been interesting, but it has also benefited me indirectly because I was starting to doubt how my results could be so good. I was thinking this is too good to be true for it to be happening so fast (which can be a form of self-sabotage), but now I realize that the length of time I've been trading can be deceiving as it's not the length of time itself that determines learning but how much exposure we have to patterns during that time. And from that point of view, there's never been a better time to learn and grow as a day trader... this market, far from just offering ample opportunity, is offering a crash graduate course. And I'm happy to be enrolled!