Friday, October 09, 2009

When Trading for a Living Becomes Living for Trading

I've written in the past of addictive behavior patterns in trading (see this post and its links). One need not be a full-blown trading junkie, however, to reach the point at which trading takes over life rather than adds to it.

It is one thing to have "a passion for trading"; quite another to neglect important spheres of life in pursuit of market success. I can think of many personal passions, from writing to my family relationships, that don't prevent me from fully engaging in other activities at work and in my personal life. Similarly, I know many very dedicated traders who are also immersed in other work, family, and spiritual spheres.

The sad truth is that living for trading generally interferes with trading for a living. By making performance paramount--and allowing performance concerns to dictate one's mood and time expenditures--traders inevitably find that trading is controlling them, not the reverse.

A few self-assessment questions may prove helpful:

Are your trading activities contributing to a lack of fulfillment in your physical and emotional development? In your relationships? In your daily moods and energy level?

How much time are you spending truly preparing for trading vs. worrying about it?

Is trading generating well-being for you or eroding it?

Is trading taking needed time away from the people you love and care about?

People who spend huge amounts of time consumed with an activity may romanticize their monomania, but most of the time I find that they are simply inefficient: what they objectively accomplish is no greater than what others achieve with positive mood and attitude in fewer hours.

Trading for a living can bring a high degree of personal autonomy and freedom. That is exciting. Living for trading is the antithesis of freedom and autonomy: you can't be a free agent if you're a slave to the screen.