Essence of Trading: How I Kicked A Bad Habit
I used to take seasonal allergy medicine religiously every year. At the beginning of spring, while people keep talking about how great the coming season will be, I would look allergy medication to stock up. It is not just a matter of inconvenience taking those medications, it is also a major annoyance in life as it will make you drowsy and tired all day long.
Several years ago I learned that those meds are not really helping me in fighting the allergy. They were making me sick and non-productive all summer long. Since these meds is not a cure to my sickness, trading one set of symptoms for another set does not make sense to me.
The logical conclusion is sensible – stop taking those meds.
The fear was that I have taken those meds for so long I would suffer way worst without them. It is like being hooked onto drugs.
It took a leap of faith one summer for me to stop taking those meds all together. Allergy meds do not work well if you do not start taking them consistently before the allergy season starts. Without the build up of the medication in your body they do not function well.
It was very bad at first. The itchiness in my eyes and the stuffed nose made that first summer completely unbearable. I could not breath. I could not sleep. Yet I survived. After the fact, the down time I spent sleeping and resting is no worse than the time I turned into a zombie while on the medications that even coffee cannot kick me into full alert.
Then year after year, the struggle continues. I stay the course and the allergy symptoms reduced back down to how I feel when I was a kid. It is bad but it is now bearable.
The decision to take the allergy medication was a convenience. It was not informed decision. Knowing the fact that these meds are very bad for my liver, however, does not translate automatically into a simple answer of saying no to these meds. It took years of suffering and determination to reverse the effects of these meds.
Kicking a habit, especially kicking a bad habit, is against our nature.
What is the point of telling this story?
What does it have to do with trading?
Trading is an activity where the minority of players win. Majority of players have to be on the wrong side of the game to facilitate the transfer of wealth. In another words, to come out ahead in trading, you have to be acting against human nature so that you will not fall into the group where the majority belongs.
The funny thing is that when you decided to stop doing something harmful to your trading, you would experience physical symptoms making you uncomfortable just like me stop taking the allergy meds. It is one of the things I learned from observing trader trainees. It happens all the time.
The urge to not follow the plan, to adjust the stop a bit further away, to add more to a position when you already maxed out your leverage, etc. is so great that I observed some of the trainees not able to control their bodies. They turned dead focus on the screen, clinching their fists, face turned pale, bodies uncontrolled swinging, etc.
The moment they violated their own plans and went back to their old routines, the physical symptoms disappeared.
But so did the money in their trading accounts.
It is not easy to kick the bad trading habits. We can probably kick many extremely stupid ones but some will always stay with us and haunt us again and again. At best, one can to learn to suppress these bad habits. The struggle will always continue because it is what trading does – pitting us against human nature.