Think Like A Trader Blog

Monday, 11 July 2016

Trader Guilt

Hello Traders.

It has been some time since I have posted in the blog – I have been extremely busy and unfortunately the blog took a backseat for a while.

What have I been doing, I hear you ask? I thought traders were all lazy, having martini lunches and five day weekends paid for on the expenses account?

Well, on top of the YouTube channel, subscription service and the actual trading, I have been working hard on a new website which should be ready in the next couple of weeks. I am also looking into UK based seminars, and I will strive to have the dates for these announced within the next few months – I’m looking at early to mid 2017.

So hopefully now I can wind back and get onto those martini lunches… Or at least post one blog update per week. So let’s start back with a biggie, something that I struggled with for quite some time and still rears its ugly head now and again –

Reading Time - 6 Minutes

Trader Guilt!

It sounds nasty and it is. But what exactly is Trader Guilt?

Well, let’s look at how we are taught to live our life as we grow up, work our way through school, University and then into the work environment.

‘Work hard.’

‘Get your head down and you’ll go far.’

‘You won’t progress unless you’re willing to break your back at work.’

‘You don’t have time to sleep if you want to be successful.’

There are countless other life snippets I could include here, and I’m sure you have heard them all before and like me, believe/believed every word of it. I genuinely thought that I had to be working a minimum of sixty hours per week if I wanted to be ‘successful.’ I only used to feel like I was ‘achieving’ in life when I got home, had to drag myself through my front door and only had the energy to crawl into bed and get a few hours of sleep ready for the next day.

So where’s the problem here? Other than it really isn’t any way to live your limited time in this thing called life?

Trading isn’t like that! It’s so far removed from it that it can wreak havoc with your mind.

Now first of all, let me get something straight – I am NOT saying that trading is easy. It most certainly isn’t. It is an emotional rollercoaster and a constant fight for new knowledge and clawing to keep hold of your market edge. Upward of ninety percent of retail traders fail. So no, it isn’t easy… But it also isn’t hard work.

Oxymoron? Not really, and I’ll explain why. 

Trading involves a huge portion of sitting and waiting. Think of it like this: if your average workday is eight hours long, then with trading, you would be sitting at your desk for seven and a half of those hours with nothing to do. Sure you can play cool tunes on your cheek with your pencil; you can make yourself eighty million coffees (I usually do); and you can look at every chart on every timeframe countless hundreds of times. But most of your day is spent doing exactly nothing.

And here comes part one of the guilt.

It doesn’t feel natural to do nothing. It doesn’t feel like you’re ‘achieving’ anything. And yet that is exactly what you must do. And let’s say you spend the entire day waiting for a trade and you don’t get one… Multiply guilt!

For me, trading the way I do, I also suffer from Trader Guilt in another way. Part two of the guilt.

Quite often I am finished early. Sickeningly early. Before lunchtime early. Money made after a few clicks of the mouse, watching the chart for a couple of minutes, and all done.

That sounds great, and it IS great. But it also can make me feel incredibly guilty. Still in my PJ’s, the coffee not even brewed, and I’m done for the day. What about all those people out there at work? Why should I have such an easy day? Why should I be able to do this when they have to sit in rush hour traffic?

If you haven’t progressed to the level of trading for a living yet, you may not understand what I am talking about. However it will come. I can guarantee it. And the problem is, a lot of people act upon the guilt and feeling that they should be doing something and so they –

Take incorrect, random trades! Anything and everything so they feel like they are ‘achieving’ something and working hard.

This is a big danger and as with all emotional trading, it will devastate your account and wipe any chance you have of doing this long term.

So how do I deal with it?

Quite simply, I have taught myself to embrace it. My father once said to me – ‘Work smart, not hard.’ It took a long time for that to sink in, but sink in it did. I don’t need to be in physical and mental pain to feel like I am somehow earning my right to success and achieving my goals. I don’t need to feel guilty for teaching myself how to free up so much of my time. Because that’s all any of us have – time. And I don’t want to spend it at a desk, unhappy and exhausted, trying desperately to make enough money for a bigger house.

That’s why I started branching out from simply trading and into education. It fills more of my time. And more than that, it gives me a genuine kick to hear from people with messages like:

‘I made X today because of you.’

It feels great and it is what helps me feel like I am doing more than clicking a few buttons and so keeps Trader Guilt at bay. But you can do your own thing. You can get round to studying whatever it is that excites you; to writing the book you’ve always wanted to; or maybe you just really like your afternoon naps! Whatever it is that makes you feel good about what you do is how to snub out the guilt.

Me? I used to trade from 7am until 4:30pm (until I got at least one trade). Now I finish when the US markets open at 2:30pm. Because I AM a lazy trader, and I like having that little thing called ‘free time.’ And I get it because I work smart, not hard.

Note – no family member is allowed to comment with wise cracks about how I am not smart. This trader ego will not be shattered. Ok, this has turned into a long post and my seventy-millionth coffee of the day has just brewed.

I hope you all have a great trading week!


  1. Totally get this :) sometimes I feel like I should be doing more than watching charts!

  2. Im still waiting for family comments :-D !!!!!

  3. No matter how many times i re-read this post, i like it more each time! haha