Think Like A Trader Blog

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Do You Need To Follow The Well Trodden, Safe Path?

In life, there is a fairly well defined route map for most of us, with only a couple of small variations.

The accepted routes focus on either leaving school and moving onto University/College before getting a job, or leaving school and moving into an apprenticeship. You waddle down the path, buy your house, have your kids, take your two holidays per year and grow old in western suburbia.

That is fine for a lot of people. However, there are also those (myself included) who didn’t want to take that path. In fact, if you’re like me, that path may as well have come with a ball and chain. It didn’t excite me nor motivate me and I couldn’t imagine walking it for the rest of my life.

The real problems start when you decide that the path isn’t for you. Because there isn’t a road map when you step off of it, and instead you are faced with uncertainty and a greater degree of risk. And the realisation and decision can come at any time. Perhaps you know before even applying for University that it isn’t for you. Maybe you complete your degree, are in the job that is supposed to be your ‘career’ for a few years and then come to the understanding that things just don’t feel right.

I truly believe that for some people, there is an inbuilt need to do things our own way. It is how we learn and it is how we grow. By only following what has been laid out for us and is in large part expected of us, it places a weight on our shoulders and we are left with a sense that something ‘just isn’t right.’

But going your own way is risky, and full of uncertainty. There will be pushback from friends and family who want you to stick to the ‘safe’ road and avoid that unnecessary risk. You’ll hear things like:

-       You need to get a proper job.
-       What if you fail?
-       You won’t be able to do that.
-        You need to live in the real world.

There is also self-doubt, which is most crippling of all. Because you are relying on yourself completely, and in all likelihood, that is something you have never had to do before. The only person who can make it work is you, and the failure, if it comes, will only rest on one pair of shoulders – your own. When you were a kid, your parents looked after you. In school, teachers told you what to do. But by deciding to go it alone, those safety nets disappear. It can be frightening to consider, and more so to experience.

And there it is, staring you in the face. To take the risk and go your own way, or to stick to the well-trodden path. Both are acceptable, but perhaps only one of those choices is going to make you happy and allow you to do what you want.

So, consider the risk in front of you. Face the fact that you very well may fail. Everything could come crumbling down around you and leave you back at square one. People around you will tell you that they told you so. You’ll get knowing looks and condescending remarks.

Horrible, right? Terrifying, right?

Well not really. Not when you really look at it all and consider things on a much grander scale.

You already know, deep down in your core, that the well-trodden path isn’t for you. It doesn’t feel right. That route leads to safety, but also a life of unhappiness. Of following the motions throughout your whole life, silencing the voice in your head that wants to have more and to experience something different.

And let’s expand even further and consider our mortality –

Yes, I know, I know, this is supposed to be a trading blog. But stick with me here!

There are many videos and articles online whereby elderly people have been interviewed and asked about their life experiences. And there are a couple of answers that pop up over and over again:

1)    They wish they had taken more risks.
2)    They wish they hadn’t worried so much about what other people thought of them.

These people are giving you the ability to imagine yourself in their place. If you don’t feel happy doing what you are doing, and want to take the risk, then what they are saying is – ‘I didn’t do it. But I wish that I had.’

You don’t want to have regrets. There isn’t any way to have a ‘replay’ of your life and do the things that you want the second time round. This is your time and you already know inside yourself whether that well-trodden path of life is for you, or whether you need to make your own way. It’s ok to face away from the crowd and try something different. This is your life and yours alone. Don’t play it safe if it results in your unhappiness.

A great way to approach your uncertainty and self-doubt is simply to imagine yourself ten years in the future, or even as a pensioner sitting down with a cup of tea (or vodka) thinking about your life. Do you think you will be happy that you stuck to the safe path and didn't follow what your heart was screaming out for? Or do you think you will be disappointed in yourself and wish you had followed through on your dreams?

If you can see yourself as disappointed, then there lies the answer as to what you should do.

Failure is never final. If you take the risk and it doesn’t work out, then guess what? You will still be standing. Nothing will have changed apart from you’ll be a little older and will have learned something.  You can dust yourself off and try again, either aiming for something different or approaching the same task in a new way.

Don’t discount your dreams and ambitions just to play it safe. If you have a passion or a desire to achieve something, get out there and go for it!

I hope you’ve all had a great trading week!

James Orr


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