Thursday, September 10, 2009

Deciding to Give Up Trading

I recently heard from a reader who decided to stop trading, because he wasn't making money at it over time and because it was taking a toll on his well-being. He indicated that he found it sad that he couldn't find success as a trader and that he felt something missing since leaving the markets.

If research is correct, the majority of traders ultimately find themselves in a similar position. It is with trading as with sports or the arts: many people participate, but few are able to craft an ongoing livelihood from their talents. Trading for a living takes much more than people realize.

Still, leaving the trading arena can feel like giving up. It can feel like a failure.

To me, it is like leaving a relationship that hasn't been working out. It is difficult to say goodbye, but the loss paves the way for finding the right partner. Before you marry anything--a person or a career--it makes sense to ensure that the choice is right for you.

When I spent a portion of 2003-2004 as a full-time trader, I made some money, but found that the daily daytrading grind wasn't for me. To my surprise, I intensely missed the stimulation of working with people as a psychologist and teacher. Here I was, personally and financially ready to pursue something I loved--and I found out it wasn't really fulfilling for me in itself.

So I learned to trade the morning hours and got the opportunity to apply my greatest interests in psychology to work with traders on a full-time basis. Out of that came my second career as a trading coach, this blog, and my recent books.

Had I not "failed" as a full-time trader, I would have never found my full-time niche.

Many times we fail at something--work or a relationship--because something else better fits our interests, values, skills, and talents. The key is embracing the "failure" to learn from it: to figure out where our greatest strengths lie.

If a path is true, it's probably one that you're already walking, though you may not realize it. It is so much a part of you, that it lives itself through you in some shape, manner, or form already. In losing a full-time trading career, you may just find yourself.