By Trader & Guest Writer: Petra Einwiller (London, UK)
Trading is a fantastic but unusual business that comes with a lot of benefits and also with some downsides. When independent traders start their journey, most are unaware of the social impact trading has on their lives, as well as on the relationships with loved ones and friends.
We had an in-depth trader talk around this topic and drew some interesting conclusions.
I hope this sheds some further light on “trading as a business”.
‘Trading is a special and very particular activity and job’, Gabriel says. ‘A lot of good things come out of it, peace and happiness, personal growth, fulfillment, relationships improve. It’s unmeasurable. But it has some downsides as well that have a negative social impact on a trader. And, it impacts not only yourself positively and negatively but also the people around you, family, parents, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, colleagues.
A trader is confronted with the beliefs of other people, what they believe about you, what you as a trader do, what they think what type of business trading is. When you say to people, I’m a trader, what is their reaction? Is it a surprise?’
What has an impact and how does it impact?
It is gambling.
‘You’re just gambling.’
‘You’re going to lose your shirt.’
We meet others’ negative views on trading. ‘People can see trading as something that has no value. At that point, I either change the subject or I don’t push it too much. To say it’s a probability game doesn’t work too well.’
‘People are interested in what I’m doing but they don’t have the knowledge to understand the whole process. That you have to change as a person. That trading gives me the opportunity to grow my skills in all areas in my life. I tell them, it’s not only the money, it’s spiritual. And the conversation stops.’
How traders are seen can depend on the country. ‘Outside the US, the UK, the English-speaking countries, they look at you, a trader? What is he talking about? The US is most open to the idea of trading as a business. I get very positive feedback. Typically, what comes for me is, how long have you been doing it? They want to know, is it a fluke. I say, 10 years. They say, oh, you’re one of those who’s consistent. Then they brighten up.’
So, what is a good approach?
The probability game.
‘I’m a bit cautious, I only talk about trading when I have the opportunity to explain a little what it is, what we’re doing. It’s like playing chess. The best players see patterns on the board and they can tell you what’s the probability of success. And trading is the same. Traders see patterns in the market.’
‘We need a deep understanding of probability and how to create strategies with a positive expectancy.’ Why? Because we are operating in an uncertain environment. We don’t know the outcome of an individual trade.
Here is an interesting idea. ‘Traders embrace uncertainty. But people want certainty. It gives them confidence. It’s difficult to understand that successful traders disconnect from certainty, from the trade result, and accept whatever the market gives us.’
The moment we accept uncertainty, we step into our creative power. The trading process becomes fun. We are now in the flow. We don’t hold on too tightly to a trade, we are not worried about the result but enjoy what we are doing, and so we can allow that we don’t need to know how a trade develops, that price goes where it goes. And we relax into that space of not knowing with systems that have a positive expectancy and using tools to deal with uncertainty. By trading high probability and low risk ideas. ‘We use our open minds for whatever is happening in our favour,’ and risk maximum 1R.
A waste of time.
‘When I say, no, I’m not making money yet, they say, then what is this for?’
‘I’m still in Demo account. They say, ah, when are you going to trade with real money then?’
What happens here?
Consistent traders have a good mental and spiritual base. This takes time to develop. We fit a trading system to our personality, simulate until we flawlessly execute it, trade the live markets with a demo account until consistent, we do a lot of psychological and spiritual work on ourselves, trade with a small real money account until consistent, only then do we increase the position size. Some people don’t see this as a safe process but ‘as a waste of time because no real money is coming in’.
The growth mindset.
To become a consistent trader is difficult. We simply don’t know how long it will take us. We study books, take courses and analyze trades, we revise material, discuss issues in groups. Tolerate that, at first, we trade making many mistakes. But the wonderful thing is, we know the value of making mistakes is to learn.
‘We experience trades, learn from doing them,’ so that we can witness our psychological weaknesses and strengths, understand what to work on. To take a trade exposes us to possible failure. We don’t know how the trade will work out. But by risking failure, we step outside our comfort zone. This is how we learn and grow. At the beginning, we may feel very uncomfortable, confused, vulnerable. Then it’s working. Everything we do and experience has value, it teaches us something. ‘We can only win or learn.’ And we keep at it, trust that it will come, and find the value and the satisfaction in the process.
We learn when to stay out of the markets to protect ourselves, that ‘not trading is also a position.’ That is very important and counterintuitive, we all want to do to feel a sense of control.
Transitioning into trading requires a lot of work and inner authority. We get through it with techniques that help us understand technical aspects, the psychology, oneness, how to handle a string of losses, a string of winners, so much – we really learn how to move forward facing adversity. Once consistent, we’ve matured.
When do you stop trying? ‘The mantra in business grow or go is what I see similar in trading. Growth is joyful. As long as you grow, you’re improving. If you’re stuck for years not going forward, that might be a reason to stop. Or if you feel something’s not right for you.’
More opposition, more depth.
‘I’m a different person. If I talk about my spiritual transformation, they think I’m not learning anything, I’m losing it. No, they say, the market is not a mirror, it is moving, the indicators are moving. I just talk about the technical side now.’
Some people may not understand that ‘this is an individual journey, and it’s spiritual for sure.’ Then, other friendships with like-minded people may deepen. ‘When I grow, I generate new vibrations. The people around me grow with me or leave and new people come into my life.’
Does the use of meditations, or a number of spiritual and psychological practices, bring about personal transformation? Yes, we change, we alter the view of ourselves, create a state of mind that helps with trading.
‘I was attracted to the psychological benefits of Van’s program and working with Gabriel. My attitude coming into this was, even if I never trade again, those psychological transformations help me in all areas of my life.’
‘You tell spiritual people, I work on getting into a higher consciousness state so I feel the market, they like it.’
‘For me the transformation wasn’t easy. When I started trading, I was confronted with believes I didn’t know I had. There was a lot of self-doubt. I’m happy where I’m now. I’ve acquired a certain objectivity to my emotions.’
‘Success in trading doesn’t mean money. A successful trader is happy in his or her life.’
A special business.
But trading is a business. We have a business plan, a personal trading game that fits our psychology, targets, a stop loss, maximum daily and weekly losses, to name but a few – what is special about it, what sets it apart
‘You push, you lose.’ This is counterintuitive. Usual businesses thrive with effort. ‘I ran into one of my worst weeks, I was pushing too hard. I no longer focused on the process but on the outcome.’
Our weekly goal is minimum 2R, our monthly goal is minimum 5R. Is that a serious business? ‘We make money not with R results but with position sizing.’
Spirituality and raising consciousness as wealth.
‘Trading is like an art. We need systems with a positive expectancy and we need intuition, the spiritual part. This is difficult to measure. It depends on feeling.’
It means trading is complex. ‘You want to loosen up.’ With intuition, we get a feel for the market, for a setup, we can break rules to gain target, exit a trade when it feels to us the right moment. Our intuition comes through when we are in a state of higher consciousness, accepting, joyful, grateful. Here, we can just accept any outcome of a trade and don’t take it personally when price goes the other way. And, we get satisfaction from the process. We’ve said it’s a probability game.
‘The goal is really happiness. What do you love doing in your life so that you feel happy? If happiness means, you go to a 12-hour job, some people love doing that. Or it could be part-time or full-time trading.’
Possible loss of Social Status.
So, what is our value as traders? What do we contribute?
‘When I went full-time, I felt a bit awkward and bad that I was not producing something, build a house, be a doctor. People like that. You have some loss of social status. Then, an old friend said, ‘the most important thing is that you’re happy. If you’re happy, you’re successful. You have a positive impact on the world.’
Also, ‘there’s a flipside to the social status in the US. There’s a status around trading and playing the markets.’
It is not only for us, it is for everyone.
‘Jumping around different people’s beliefs doesn’t work. You just need to be happy for yourself. I believed that focussing on my happiness is selfish, instead of looking to serve others. I don’t know where that came from.’
‘You raise your consciousness as a trader not only for yourself, you positively affect the people in your life.’
Working on ourselves as traders, our health improves because we reduce our stress levels. We become calmer, more accepting, more open, increasingly joyful and loving. ‘We see people become happier around us, if they’re open to us.’
The lonely riders.
Yet, ‘trading can be lonely. I missed my friends at work. We went for lunch, discussed things. I had to find interaction with people outside of my home. Now, I love to be at home. But I’ve got a friend who needs to put on a suit when he trades and he goes to an office.’
‘I didn’t like trading full-time at home. I love to work with people. Now, I trade part-time and get satisfaction from my job.’
‘I felt pressure to make trading work. The moment I decided that I’d earn a living doing something else and see trading as an additional financial source, I enjoyed it.’
‘We have to make trading fit us. Otherwise, we’ll personalize it and don’t surrender to the process.’
The gift of small things.
‘I love my ex-colleagues at the office but not a rigid structure. I worked long hours. I also didn’t want a 9-5 job, I like doing interesting, challenging things. When I transitioned to full-time trading, I enjoyed most that I could put on a T-shirt, take small trips on my bicycle at midday, go for a coffee at 2pm if I wanted. These small things improved the quality of my life a lot.’
‘No partners in a law firm, no boss, no clients to satisfy. The freedom and independence and something captivating and engaging and lucrative to do. The perfect day.’
‘I felt a bit lonely trading at home. Setting up a trading group helped a lot. I can talk with people who are going through the same process. It opens up new experiences.’ We need the support of peers when we feel pressured to do well, not to disappoint others. And, being listened to, ‘we protect the ones close to us from what emotionally impacts us.’
When they feel bad.
Still, we may notice that our loved ones are not happy. ’A father, a mother, a spouse – they are maybe afraid for us, that we ruin our lives, they are maybe afraid for themselves, the family, if we are the provider. ‘Usually, they don’t understand what trading is and what we’re doing.’
‘A lot of people trade and lose money. My wife helps me but thinks I might not make it. So, I might think that, too. I’m going to do what I planned. But there’s some pressure.’
‘It’s very important that your partner is behind you. If you feel that he or she doesn’t want you to trade, it’ll be in the back of your mind. It might hinder growth and success.’
How could we help them?
Make them feel safe.
‘When you transition into trading, you have to talk with your closed ones, and be sure that your partner is with you. It’s for them, that they don’t feel bad. When I first told my mother that’s what I wanted to do, she got scared. Her brother was trading and went bankrupt. Now, she’s very happy. I explained what trading is, what I’m doing. I told her, I only risk 1%.’
‘Once, I put a lot of pressure on myself and changed my trading style, and that really affected the people around me. I need to be really careful and protect my psychology so that those around me don’t suffer because of my lack doing that.’
‘My wife introduced me to VTI, she traded. She’s extremely supportive. She understands the psychology, the spirituality, the process. But a family member, who was trading successfully, got overconfident, and lost a ton of money. I watched his whole family helping him to work through it. He continued trading and started with much smaller amounts.’
‘I spent most of my life as a lawyer. Everything is about billable hours. You equate your self-worth to your value per hour per day. It’s a twisted value system.’
‘3 hours passed. Did I have a trade? No. Hey, what are you doing?’
‘How am I continue to pay for my expenses? And, am I really to achieve my opportunity cost? The process of learning to trade can take a decent time.’ Yes, ‘a time-stop doesn’t work well for trading.’
Opportunity cost can be a factor. We must be clear, then, what we want to get out of this.
The key is perhaps to see what trading opens up. Which possibility does it give us to create something from it? ‘If you get down to opportunity cost, the transition into full-time trading becomes hard. It’s really about lifestyle, achieving happiness and having a much fuller life. The benefits for you as a trader and for your family. You have to get beyond that period of adjustment and the learning process to the point where you’re profitable.’
‘I’m investing a lot of myself into learning to trade. I have less time for friends, sport, the arts. I thought, where’s the life balance? Now, I’m much more at ease. Whatever I do, I get a real sense of fulfillment. I learn through trading to choose what feels good and enjoy it.’
‘At the beginning, trading is super difficult. The good news is, it gets better and better, and lighter and lighter. The bad news is, you have multiple boom and bust cycles you have to go through over the course of your trader development. Most people stop. Trading can be easy but it’s difficult to make it easy. Unlearn and relearn. It’s counterintuitive.’
It is also about commitment. ‘I started a business and lost a lot of money for a year. I’ve almost gone broke and stuck with it with the help of friends. People succeed when they continue when the fear is there. But there’s a balance.’
Just keep doing it.
Pushing hard can invite FOMO. Or even burn out.
‘I look at trading like a marathon, just putting in that run every day. As soon as I stop doing it, I think I’ll lose the capability. I just keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it, hoping at the end this is building something fantastic.’
How do we know if we’re committed or addicted?
Can we take a break from it, play loose? ‘I used to wake up every morning and start trading, automatically, now I don’t feel I have to trade every day.’
‘It’s about choice. Do I feel like trading today? If I can choose yes or no, I know I’m committed and not addicted.’
Keep at it knowing when not to trade. Letting go of FOMO. If we’re too tight, we don’t get into the flow. Flow – ‘we enjoy the energy behind the doing because we are not focused on the outcome.’ (Eckhart Tolle)
Letting things unfold, not controlling, needs awareness, to be in peace with what is. Then we are at our best. We just ‘know’.
‘What it comes down to for me is my inner guidance, what Wojtek talks about. This is the foundation for any decision I make in my life. I can try to change myself to be a better trader, but I am who I am. I have to adapt my life and processes and trading to what works for me. I need to have something else very important in my life that takes up a good amount of my time to be able to be fresh when I trade and not to be compulsive about trading. I actually gain more R when I do that then when I sit in front of my desk for 10 hours or pace around trying not to look at the charts.’
‘It’s surprising what people think of traders and trading, friends, family, people we meet. We’re very misunderstood. People’s views say a lot about how they think about the economy, money, risk, themselves, and very little about us.’
‘The most positive view I’ve ever heard was the one from Beryl.’
‘It’s very common that traders don’t feel good about what they’re doing,’ Gabriel says. ‘What Beryl said in our call had a big impact on me. ‘Traders come from a long lineage of lifetimes. You have always been riding the waves of loss and gain and trying to make sense of the world – being adventurous. And there is a lot of depth to it. I think the creator is very fond of traders particularly. He thinks you are brave and courageous.’
(Beryl, a psychic healer working with traders)
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