Why trade?

This past week was very hard for me. I was wrong consistently. Worse yet, I recognized that I was wrong but continued to “fight the market” nonetheless. This compounded the pain of being wrong and turned it into something far worse; stupidity.

At times like these, sometimes it helps to be reflective. To ask questions. One question that has come up over and over for me recently is, why trade? Why put myself through this? It’s been months since I’ve made real money. I’m stressed out and I’m dying the death of a thousand small cuts. Not to mention the two very large cuts that I suffered this past week…

Well, to answer that, I need to delve a little into my past. I have to remember the beginning of trading. What was life like before I began to trade?

I remember all too clearly my ex-bosses fat knuckles laying on her desk before me. She had asked me to write a memo, a menial little task. I wrote the memo and a half hour later there I was sitting across from her staring at those fat, pasty white knuckles as she ripped my little memo to shreds.

I remember getting paid $26,000 a year in my next job and having to fight (unsuccessfully) for a $500 a year raise that was promised to me. And I still remember the phone call I received from a friend of mine who had recently started trading when he told me that he had just nailed down $75,000 in one month. That’s when I quit that job and decided that I would learn how to trade.

Now, just as a reference point, it is not easy to make that much money in one month… or at least, it was never easy for me. I’ve traded now for 8 years and have probably made upwards of $75k in a month 5 times. And I haven’t made that much in a month since early 2001…

The early days, those days where I was learning were great. I was told to “paper trade” and to watch the market. I was told that it would probably take 6 months to really learn the sectors and the stocks and that I should just focus on learning and not worry too much about the money. There were hundreds of different traders in the office, but it was easy to discern a few main “types of traders”. Think high school where you had the jocks, the nerds, etc. With traders, there were the retracers, the trend traders, the news guys, the freaking psychopaths… I learned quickly that I hated to lose and that I was very conservative with my trading style.

I’ll write more tomorrow. This could go on for a very long time and it’s late. I really need to read a bit.