Saturday, September 20, 2014

Life After Trading: Finding Your Future

The recent post cited research that found that overtrading was most common among traders with the least funds, elderly traders, minority traders, and men.  All of these are groups that could feel the most pressure to make a living from their trading.  Every year I hear from a number of traders who reach the conclusion that this is not possible.  They have put their heart and soul into trading--and sometimes their bank accounts--and they have determined that they simply cannot meet their financial needs and obligations through an uncertain trading income.

Here are a few vignettes of people I've worked with who have sought a life after trading:

*  Joe was a very sociable person who wanted to be a success in life.  He experienced success for a while in trading, but became unhappy with the lifestyle and his returns tailed off.  He went into the restaurant business, where he could work with people, and currently owns and runs a successful restaurant group.

*  Tom loved trading, but experienced ups and downs in his income.  That created stress for him and his family.  He knew a lot about markets and wanted to stay in the industry, so he built a career as a financial adviser and eventually became a knowledgeable and successful investor.

*  Alicia was an excellent student, with a solid knowledge of economics.  She became a junior portfolio manager at a hedge fund, but did not perform well under the pressure of having to produce short-term returns.  She joined a different firm as a research analyst and is now part of a successful team, helping to set investment strategy.

In all of these cases, the people had to struggle with the issue of "failing" at trading.  The important insight they came to is that they failed because of their strengths, not because of weakness.  Each had key strengths that did not fit well with a trading career.  They found their future by moving to an area of opportunity that made greater use of those strengths.  None of the opportunities seemed perfect at the time, but they found good organizations to be part of and grew into ideal positions.

In my life, it took several failed relationships before I figured out what would make me happy in a marriage.  Those were difficult experiences, but there would have been no success without those failures.  A career, like a romantic relationship, must capture your strengths, interests, and values in order to be successful.  If trading is not working for you, consider the possibility that trading does not capture all that you have to offer.  Understanding who you are, what fills you with energy, and what you are truly good at is the first step in discovering your ideal future.

Further Reading:  Succeeding by Failing