During the first years of our trading journey we were learning to trade through a very unstructured approach. We were reading books, watching videos and listening to podcasts on trading as much as we could without really knowing where we were going. It’s simple to say that we were blinded by all the knowledge available which resulted in a much unstructured trading methodology at first. Because of this unstructured approach to trading we suffered from losses and swings in our emotional well-being. We even reached a period of drawdown (having multiple losing positions in a row). Giving up was never an option but there were many instances where we just did not know how to continue and how to get out of the mess that we were in. However, there were two driving forces that we shared at all times and which hold us from giving up completely. These forces are the main drivers for many people to get into trading in the first place:
- The fear to be average and live an average life -The hunger and motivation for (financial) freedom and success
These two feelings of motivation highlight the downside risk of giving up and the upside potential when pushing through. Many people will tell you that maintaining a positive mindset with a focus on the upside is the way to go. In most situations we do agree with this statement but there is an exception which the “always-positive” thinkers seem to miss out on. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, success seems further away than ever before and the option of quitting gets more tempting. If you’re in a situation where recovery seems like a difficult task you can even lose motivation when you realize that success only comes after recovery. Instead, you could look at how close you are to that which you fear (being average). We can use the negative force (fear) to activate a fight response in the brain that will help you to push through. Realizing that you might be very close to what you fear, you will find the power to push forward to that which you wish to achieve. This is a piece of advice purely based on our own experience, the fear of being average and not succeeding was the driving force that always made us work harder and get out of the mess we were in.
What you should remember is that it’s not just about the end result of the efforts you put into something. When you start your trading journey, you probably get into it with a focus and motivation that reflects an end result. As mentioned, the main reason people get into trading in the first place is because they want to achieve (financial) freedom and have certain monetary goals. However, with only an end result to motivate you (the manifestation of you enjoying a cocktail on a white sandy beach while your trades bring in loads of profit) the journey will be very long and exhausting.
A reason a lot of people quit their trading journey when things get hard or don’t work out the way they expect is because they do not actually enjoy the journey. There has to be something in the learning process that you really want to get out of bed for every morning because the learning process never ends. Actual trade execution maybe takes up only 5% of your time, the other 95% all comes down to preparation and learning. For example, it’s highly recommended to back-test your strategy over multiple years of data. Depending on the strategy, this can take weeks or even months to test all the currency pairs you wish to trade over extensive periods of time. Then there is the process of journaling and reviewing the trades you’ve taken and maybe missed. These are just examples of activities that are time consuming but are a crucial part of your trading career. If you’re not enjoying these activities right now, you have to find a way to do so. You should create a daily routine that makes you want to get out of bed every morning. In this routine you can schedule the necessary activities (journaling, testing, reviewing etc.) in a way that you prefer. For instance, if you are not big fan of back-testing your strategy, try to make it more joyful by listening to a podcast or audio book at the same time. This is just an example, but there are many ways to make less joyful activities more interesting. We can use external stimuli to make certain activities more joyful and interesting but focusing on internal satisfaction is in our opinion a better solution. By realizing that these activities are an essential part of your trading success, you can get feelings of accomplishment by completing a few of these tasks every day. A feeling of accomplishment can be very satisfactory and even addicting. This will help you to find joy, motivation and satisfaction in these activities that you otherwise don’t like doing.