I could never be a nurse.
It’s not that I can’t deal with blood or anything like that, it’s just that mangled limbs aren’t really my thing. Watching someone having their spleen removed doesn’t really ring my bells either. I’m also not very keen on cleaning up ‘accidents’, or jabbing people with needles – although I’m sure that could potentially have its gratifying moments.
A quick look at the general chores nurses are required to do as part of their job quickly lets me know that nursing isn’t a good fit for me, and because I know I’m not really cut out for nursing, I’m not a nurse. It makes sense.
Trading is different. Everyone in the world thinks they’re cut out to be a trader.
Why You Might Not Be Cut Out For Trading
When people think about what traders do, the impression is that we make money. Naturally, everyone thinks they’ll be just fine with that, therefore they assume they’ll be a brilliant trader.
But just like any other career suits certain personality types, trading suits a certain category of people and not others. It’s possible that despite all your good intentions, you’re just not cut out to be a trader.
There seems to be some kind of shame in admitting you’re not a good trader, and that you hate it and wish it would die.
This shouldn’t be the case, but it is. The thing is, it hurts our ego to lose money, but it also hurts our ego to fail at trading. Yep – it’s a conundrum.
So how do we know for sure that trading isn’t for us?
SIgns and Symptoms of Terminal Trader Syndrome
There are a few symptoms a terminal trader will display that can help make the prognosis a little clearer.
- You can’t sleep. Even though you’ve done everything right and have position sized correctly, you still lay awake worrying about your positions. Trading can take up way too much of your mental space, and it’s a symptom that all is not well. If trading and your open positions are distracting from normal rest, it’s got to go. Don’t underestimate the far-reaching effect of a lack of sleep.
- You’re unduly pre-occupied with your losses, to the point you don’t want to check your platform and don’t want to look at your statements. I’ve even heard of people who actually hid their unopened statements in an effort to make it all go away. Denial is not a good strategy.
- You can’t separate trading from real life. The best trader is a balanced trader, and when trading starts to occupy every corner of your life it’s a sign something is wrong. If you’ve lost in the market and fighting back starts to become more important than relationships, hobbies, and life in general, it’s not a healthy fascination and it will ultimately end in your failure – not only in trading, but in all areas of your life.
If that sounds like you, don’t be sad about it – it may just be that trading isn’t the best use of your particular skills, or the best career choice for your particular personality type.
So What Kind of Person is Best Suited to Trading?
Great traders have a few personality traits that do give them a natural advantage. That’s not to say you can’t succeed without them, just that it’ll be an uphill battle and a greater degree of reflection and self-correction will be required. The trader with the best chance of success will be -
Independent. Being happy with a good deal of autonomy will allow you to confidently execute your plan without needing 25 people to concur with your analysis. Trading is a solitary game, and you need to be able to thrive on your own, to a large extent. Support is great but when it comes down to it, it’s all up to you.
Decisive. If you take hours to do something simple like choose a burger off a menu, the odds of you being able to see a trade set-up and coolly pull the trigger are greatly diminished. Especially if you trade short time-frames that can be the difference between success and failure.
Insightful. If a trader can honestly look at their skills, motivations and short-comings and actively work to rectify them, they have the tools to over-come nearly anything the market throws their way.
Resilient and Optimistic. These pretty much go hand in hand. Being optimistic gives you a better chance of being resilient, and being resilient is a pre-requisite when it comes to success in the markets. If you generally tend to give up at the first hurdle, trading is not for you.
Adaptable and Flexible. If you struggle with change, you’re going to struggle in a market environment because the markets are characterised by change. It’s will stress you out no end because just when you’ve finally made some sense of things, the market will shift and you’ll have to adapt all over again.
So if you’re really struggling as a trader and don’t possess any of these traits naturally, you will have a rough time making a go of it. You might have a decision to make – do you give in gracefully now, recognising that trading isn’t ideally suited to your skill set and move on? Let’s face it, people drop out of college or university all the time once they realise they’ve chosen the wrong course.
Or will you wait and persist in the hope of success, and risk struggling on and on until the market forces you to quit?
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