Think Like A Trader Blog

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Time to Take a Break?

Hello Traders.

I got back from holiday on Monday and the trip again made me realise the importance of having some down time. I think it is even more important for those who are still in the learning process of trading and working their way toward consistency.

What I have always found with trading, more so than anything I have ever encountered before, is that it pulls you in completely. If you truly want to become a trader, you know exactly what I am talking about. I would say that trading itself becomes somewhat of an obsession.

In the morning, you look forward to getting to the charts. After you finish for the day, you may find yourself browsing over the charts once again, summarising what you did correct and what could be improved upon. At the weekends, you sneak off from your partner for a ‘nap’ and they find you sitting with a laptop on your knees and a chart open in front of you.

It truly is a fantastic experience to become so involved with something you enjoy that it becomes like a hobby, something you want to do, rather than something you are forced to do (like a regular 9-5). Those who don’t trade won’t understand, and that is fine. But for us traders, the thought of ignoring the markets for a few days seems like madness.

And therein lies the problem. Because trading can creep its way from an enjoyable pursuit that you are determined to succeed at, to a much heavier weight that is not enjoyable in the least. It becomes more of a ball and chain rather than a pursuit of something you love.

The reason is fairly simple – you are burning yourself out. The mind doesn’t want to and can’t be focused so intently on only one subject for hugely extended periods of time. Especially not when you are trading live and you add in the stress and psychological rollercoaster that comes with the day to day business of being a trader.
Again, this can be worse for a beginner. When you have been trading for a while, you can somewhat detach and understand that the markets will be there tomorrow, and the next day… and the next.

As a beginner, you tend to get that initial surge of excitement. It carries you through the first six months and you find yourself spending countless hours learning and practicing. It seems easy, because you enjoy it. Even after you go live and suffer from mistakes and losses, you still find yourself bouncing out of bed, looking at it as a challenge and something you want to work toward until it ‘clicks’.

And then comes the slippery slope that you may not even notice. Perhaps the mistakes keep happening and the losses keep coming. You feel like you’re going backward and not improving. Your love of trading is slowly becoming a desperation to succeed. You take risks you really shouldn’t, you spend hours on the charts even though your head is already pounding and you haven’t even considered stopping for something to eat and drink.

I know that feeling because I went through it. And our natural reaction is to ‘work harder’ and ‘work longer’ to try and fix things.

For me now it is a little different. That burnout comes instead from focusing so much each day on what I am doing, as well as getting up earlier and putting things together for Decisive Trading and subscribers that I need to be helpful and of good quality. But the burnout is very similar and I can remember all too well the sitting at the charts with a headache refusing to move burnout also.

The truth is, the most useful thing you can do is… take a break. Let yourself recharge. Ignore the charts for an entire week, even if you don’t go away. Spend time with your friends or your partner (do they even remember what you look like?).

What I always find is that a couple of days goes past without trading and it feels like tension is leaving me. After that it is literally as though I am plugged into a socket and recharging. It allows me to come back to the charts fresh and with a huge excess of energy that helps with my focus and discipline.

So, take a break when the passion becomes a chore. The charts will still be there tomorrow. Relax and unwind. In all honesty, doing nothing can sometimes be the most important part of your progression as a trader.

I hope you’ve all had a good trading week.

James Orr


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    1. Hi Greg. I was in Gran Canaria. It was a great week and believe it or not, it has been just as hot in Scotland the last few days (29C!).
      It can be easy to get bogged down and not even realise it is happening. A good break is like a good cup of tea (or whisky) - it tends to fix things.