Thirty Hours

A common query I get is what the life of a “full-time” trader is like. Many are also curious about what kind of life I lead being a trader, a teacher, a mentor, counsellor, consultant and author/writer. But they forget to ask about my life as a father, husband, son and a friend … which is also part of the life of being a Trader.

Firstly, I’d like to dispel any preconceived notions that you might have about this “full-time trader” thing – it is not as glamorous or as nice as many think it is. And it certainly isn’t full-time. I don’t regard myself as a full-time trader because I have a life and several income streams. I’ve had my hand at full-time trading and I hate it. It is stressful not knowing if you will make enough to pay your bills and feed the kids. It is even more stressful when you’re on a losing streak. And when you’re profitable, you’re stressed out for fear of losing it and that can ruin your trading confidence.

During periods between 2011 and 2014, I went through a series of surgical operations that rendered me bed-ridden and all I could do was write and trade. The first solitary confinement almost drove me crazy. I had to get out of the house to regain my sanity so I grabbed my crutches and went for the Pattern Trader’s Monthly Gathering against doctor’s orders. I even refused to cancel any of my classes following the subsequent surgeries. I had to have a life and I needed to be out and about.

You’d have to be a real anti-social loner to be able to trade full-time without any human interaction or external activity in your life. For some, that’s a dream  life but to me, what’s the point? If you’re just trading to make money or pass the time without making a difference to other people’s lives, then why do you exist?

But that’s just my opinion and you don’t have to agree or argue with me about it.

This is a run-down of 30-hours of my life starting on the evening of Wednesday 27 March 2019 to Thursday 28 March 2019;

30-HOURS IN THE LIFE OF A TRADER

•••

WEDNESDAY 27 MARCH 2019

18:45 – Singapore Stock Exchange talking to 60+ investors and traders about Sector Rotation and Global Macro for the U.S., Hong Kong and Singapore markets. These days, I take more joy in sharing what I know for free than when I was in the seminar business. I cannot express the kind of gratification I get out of doing talks like these.

21:35 – Home to catch the market open and monitor my positions. No oil trade today because the Oil Inventory Report will be released in about 50 minutes. The equity market gapped up on weak market internals and doesn’t look like sustaining its gains.

By 23:30, I’m tired and there’s nothing to do in the markets so I am not going to force a trade on a day that’s divergent and directionless with no macroeconomic motivation. DOW seems to be finding support at 25,400 but it’s still on weak internals;

Answered a few queries, rendered some assistance to several Pattern Traders online and did a bit of writing (started writing this article) before retiring for the day at 01:50. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

THURSDAY 28 MARCH 2019

09:37 – Home at work to answer emails and messages and catch the Asian Breakout on Crude. Equity market closed flat-to-downside last night to vindicate my opinion that it was a directionless and divergent session.

09:52 – WTI broke below my Kill Box for a short but is trading along the 59.10 support that saw it get rejected twice at that level on Tuesday. Volumes are weak and I’m not comfortable with the short given the previous day’s inventory report that crude had a build of only 2.8 mln which was way short of covering the previous week’s draw of almost 10 mln barrels. EIA also reported weekly that the U.S. oil production showed no change with production at 12.1 mln barrels per day. No short this morning and not enough gearing to get the price out of the Kill Box to the upside. Might consider the short again for the European Breakout.

But I’ll be on the move in the afternoon.

11:15 – Scotts Road tim-sum brunch with two of my graduates. She is a graduate from PTT in 2009 who returned from Canada to re-sit the Tutorial in February this year and her husband attended Wealth Academy in 2009 while I was still a Trainer there. She goes back to Toronto on Sunday. Interesting conversation in which I found out a lot about the different cultures in the various parts of Canada. Such a vastly different life there. 

12:45 – Far East Plaza pops me a nostalgic surprise! While shopping for a bouquet for my Mom, I came across a shop with a very familiar signboard I’ve not seen since the early 1980s. The Attic was the shop I bought all my imported vinyl LPs from when I was a teenager when they were at the top floor of Centrepoint. The owner, Bobby Yeo, even recognised me after all these decades. He was formerly a member of a local band, The Survivors back in the 70s. It’s great that vinyl is making a comeback and that CDs are ending their domination because it’s great that Bobby can continue running this business that was once a dying trade. If you’re into vinyl, Bobby is your man at Far East Plaza #03-42.  It’s a much smaller place compared to Attic’s glory days in the 80s but the spirit of vinyl LPs is still alive and very well in this shop.

13:20 – On the road. This is when I do some of my best thinking, while driving or swimming. Sometimes, I wonder what “slowing down” means. I left the seminar business so that I could slow down and focus on the things that are important to me and to have the time to do the things that matter in my life. But I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been since going on my own. I am not complaining because I am doing what I love to do and making the most out of the time I have now. 

13:45 – Tan Tock Seng Hospital with my Mom. She was diagnosed with early stage leukaemia a couple of months ago and has been undergoing “light” chemotherapy and blood transfusions. Now she’s getting fresh platelets and for the first time since being warded a couple of weeks ago, she was given home leave to get some reprieve yesterday. Today, she’s back in the ward and looking much better, up and about and back to her chatty and creative self. Doctors want her closely watched because her other “older”  medical complications may crop up as a result of her weakened state. So far, so good. Mom is a fighter.

15:15 – On the road again. Next appointment is at 16:00 in the East. I actually enjoy not having an office. Moving around keeps me alive and gives me time to think or clear my thoughts. Unless I am taking selfies of myself pretending to be driving while stuck at a traffic light.

Which makes me wonder … how much time do we actually waste waiting for traffic lights/jams, pedestrian crossings, elevators, airline flights and all the various queues? Or even time wasted waiting for tardy friends or appointments? I don’t have a number but I am sure it is a significant percentage of our daily life. I should know because I use that time productively either on my laptop or my phone and I do get a lot of things done while waiting.

Which reminds me … I really need to find time to work on the second group of Analytical Tools. Next trip up to K.L. is less than two months away and I have to get started soon.

Which got me thinking … I need to slow down and not think so much. I am going to burst a vessel at this rate.

SIDE NOTE: At this time of the day on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday/Friday, depending on the weather, I will either be swimming (at least twice a week for a total of at least 4km a week) or at the gym (at least once a week for a 30 minute workout that excludes the treadmill and the stupid cycling thing that goes nowhere). 

16:10 – Starbucks at Tampines Mall to meet up with my IT project partner. Bumped into a fan/follower who has been an ardent reader of my books and articles. (I am so so sorry I forgot your name and didn’t take a picture with you!) This IT project is so close to delivery that it’s getting frustrating. The closer you get, the more you realise needs to be done. Thank goodness my partner is diligent and extremely knowledgeable about this project. Anyone interested in investing? 

19:30 – Jack’s Place at Parkway Parade for dinner and our precious family time. Quality family time has always been my family’s top priority and none more so than our dinner time which we must have at least once a week. It’s a culture that’s become a habit where we talk and catch up and rant (on the odd occasion). No mobile distractions, just good food and good discussions and lots of love and caring attention.

That’s why no pictures here.

SIDE NOTE: If I am not having a lovely dinner with family or friends at this time, then I am in class teaching or in a session doing some talk somewhere.

21:15 – Home and rueing the missed short on Crude between 18:00 and 20:30 … gorgeous $1.00 slide. Damn.

Well, if it’s yours, it’s yours. If it’s not, it’s not. There will always be another opportunity and better circumstances. After all, hindsight is always 20/20 and I will never know if I would have taken the trade at 18:00 in the first place. Such is the nature of trading. *sigh*

21:50 – Home. The market is looking like yesterday’s session, opening to the upside with no strength and no macroeconomic backbone. I’ll give it an hour or two then decide if I am going to do anything. In the meantime, I need to finish up my article on Value Investing: The Untold Truth to be posted in the morning on www.financialscents.com.

The site also needs backend work to clean up dead links left behind by the original site programmers/designers. Facebook refuses to allow the site to use its login facilities as long as we don’t clean up the dead links. What a mess. Probably get some of that done early next week. Plus I have next week’s article to start on; Behavioural Finance in the 21st Century. Gawd … that’s a tacky title. Going to have to think up some other title.

00:35 – Home. The market is not going anywhere. That GDP report really sucked big time and the market has no direction yet again. March has a tendency to end poorly and this is typical of another boring last week of March. Another wasted night. *sigh* Such is the life of a trader.

Guess I’ll pack it up for the night. Tomorrow is another long day with the Pattern Trader™ Options Trading Workshop starting its next batch in the evening. Gotta get some sleep.

•••

That’s my typical 30-hour life which describes how typical my daily routine is not.  And I am sure it isn’t what you thought a full-time trader’s life was supposed to be like. Sorry to disappoint you but the reality is that I do have a life and trading doesn’t rule my life.

There was once when my whole life revolved around trading. That was insane. If trading is ultimately to help you to make money to improve your life, then it shouldn’t enslave you. I know a lot of people who get so caught up with trading that it consumes their lives and leaves little or no time for much else. That’s insane. That’s not what trading is about. That’s an addiction. Yes, trading can become a very unhealthy addiction especially if you find yourself staring at charts for more than a quarter of your waking time. If you find yourself having to trade to pay the bills, you’re in a lot of trouble. If you’re forcing a trade to pay off a debt, you are going to be in a worse world of pain. If you’re trading for the money instead of trading to trade well, you are truly unsuited for the market yet.

Trading should be about another income stream that improves your life with the extra income. It should be about having the freedom to trade when you have a trade and taking the day off if there is nothing to trade. Proper trading should leave you the freedom to do the things you love and still have ample time for the family while the trade works to improve your life. If trading isn’t bringing you joy, you’re not trading well.

Forget about full-time trading. Erase that illusion, that pipe-dream someone sold you. Focus on learning to trade professionally and master the skill to trade to trade well. Even if you’re planning on trading part-time, do it professionally and smartly. Nothing great comes from doing things half-baked. You wouldn’t trust a half-baked surgeon with your life, would you? So why settle for a half baked attitude to trading?

That’s something worth thinking about, right?

Finally, this is me writing this article at 18:20 on Friday 29 March 2019 in the classroom before we start the Options Trading Workshop for Pattern Trader™ Graduates at Singapore Shopping Centre.

Have a great weekend and Happy Hunting always!

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