Sunday, March 05, 2017

Is Your Trading Truly Your Path?

Sometimes the best answers come from the toughest questions.

Is trading truly your gift?  Does the pursuit of trading truly provide you with meaning and purpose?  Are you doing the kind of trading that expresses your greatest strengths and provides you with ongoing fulfillment?

If the answer to these questions is ultimately no, then all the work on your trading and your psychology will not be helpful.  You'll be another person racing up a ladder that's leaning against the wrong building.

If something plays to our strengths and is deeply meaningful to us, it should be intrinsically rewarding.  The work itself should not be a constant struggle.

I recently shared with a trader that I went through a period as a psychologist when my work was intrinsically frustrating.  I was working in a community clinic and was assigned clients from the local court system.  Some of those referrals were of men who had committed physical and sexual abuse against young children.  The courts referred the men for therapy to help them with their problems.  I was not at all helpful as a therapist.  Every bone in my body wanted to see these offenders in jail, not in my office, and certainly not in our community.  I recognized that this was not an especially helpful or caring attitude, but it was (and remains) very strongly ingrained in me via my life experiences.

For a time, I tried to overcome my emotional wiring and then I realized I was doing no one a favor.  I refocused my professional work on the young, high functioning populations that gave me my greatest fulfillment and moved on to student counseling at an Ivy League university.  It was the best career move I could have made.

The work we're meant to be doing shouldn't always be laborious!  Yes, it takes effort to build a business, paint a masterpiece, or achieve a scientific breakthrough.  But if it's the right work for you, the work itself brings joy and energy.  When we're doing the wrong things, it drains us of energy.  I was miserable coming into the clinic office, knowing I'd be meeting with people who were going through the motions of fulfilling a court mandate. 

Now, people sometimes ask me how I'm able to sustain work with traders, an active family life, a daily blog, the trading of markets, and the writing of multiple books.  How do I get up each morning around 4 AM and sustain work into the evening?  It's not because I'm Superman.  It's because the work doesn't feel like work to me.  It is what I'm meant to be doing.  It keeps me interested, keeps me energized--even when it's hard work.

If you've been working, working, working on your trading and finding more frustration than fulfillment, consider the possibility that the kind of trading you're pursuing is not the path you're meant to be treading.  Perhaps a different approach to markets, perhaps a different focus within finance, perhaps a broader involvement in the business world will speak to you and bring the best out in you.

I know, I know, it feels like admitting defeat to let go, but it can be the first step toward a much larger victory.  I was a couple years into a romantic relationship when it finally hit me that I was spending much more time working on the relationship than enjoying it.  You shouldn't have to work at loving someone and being compatible with them!  Letting go and ending that relationship was painful, but it was the right decision.  She found a happy marriage and family life, and I recently celebrated my 33rd anniversary with my soulmate and our very loved family.

That's what your career should be:  your soulmate.  Your source of joy and fulfillment.  Your source of energy and inspiration.  Don't settle for less.

Further Reading:  Trading Coaches as Whores