Three years ago I quit my job and became a full time stock trader. The Life of a Day Trader is complicated, after spending the first two years struggling to say the least, I made it to year three and it has been drastically different. If you follow my blog you have been right there with me. Looking back now, learning trading meant I had to struggle or I wouldn’t truly appreciate the lessons. I believe that all those struggles have given me an advantage that will hopefully lead me to a long trading career ahead. Since I’ve experienced so much in such a short time I thought I would share a little bit into the life of a day trader because its truly the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.
When someone asks me what its like being a day trader, my response is usually short and sweet “well it’s the hardest but at times most rewarding thing I’ve ever done”. I use to deal with the public working retail, I use to think that was tough. I have mad respect for anyone who has to deal directly with the public but even then I didn’t experience what I do now on a daily basis as a trader.
Everyday I wake up around 8:00am and begin researching stocks, checking my email for the morning watch lists I’m subscribed too, check news and twitter. I use to make coffee first but I found that it made me to anxious at the opening bell so I began making my first cup 5 min before the open. I already have everything set up including my stocks on watch and it gives me a second to clear my head and brew my coffee.
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Here’s some things I experience at least once a day…Regret, Doubt, Fear, FOMO(Fear of Missing Out), Excitement, Epiphany, Anger, Shock. At times I feel all those feelings in a matter of a few minutes. I’ve learned to accept some of them and try to control others. Controlling FOMO is something that will help many traders from making stupid mistakes, but it requires lots of patience. It’s impossible to catch every opportunity and sometimes just sitting back and watching is the best thing you can do.
What does it take to be a day trader? I like to think of day trading as being an airline pilot or a medic. It requires you to remain cool, calm and patient. Like an airline pilot during an emergency or a medic trying to save someone’s life. Remaining calm, emotionless, composed and focused so that you can make the most rational decision possible.
The physiological toll can be very difficult at times and I believe successful day traders are those who have learned how to deal with multiple things at one time with as little stress as possible. While I was struggling at trading, my emotion got the best of me. It still does but I learned the power of patience, or walking away. Discipline and patience has led me to really improving my returns greatly.
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I’m not a typical flashy day trader like you see on Instagram and Twitter. My goal is to be debt free and live a comfortable life. Trading stocks is the ultimate freedom, being able to work from home and be your own boss is the single greatest accomplishment of my life. I realize now the physiological toll of trading can be hard and I don’t want ego to effect my trading, or having to live up to a certain lifestyle. I want to be simple, care-free and enjoy experiences, not things. Success is always sold to people as a having a shinny new car or exotic vacations. For me, success is none of that, it’s waking up everyday, working at home in my sweat pants loving what I do.
Trading can really consume your life. I am always thinking about it, even when I’m off. Nights before a trading day I use to be really anxious, but I try to turn that in to excitement. I love what I do and sometimes can’t wait for the weekend to be over so I can work again. I don’t think its healthy and I’m working on that but its better than dreading going to work. It consumed me for so long especially when I was struggling with it in the beginning so I’ve been working hard at separating my personal life from it a bit and focusing on family and friends on my down time.
Everyone will have a different journey but I know many will have similar experiences as I have. The more you learn from your mistakes the more you’ll be able to avoid them and ultimately become more profitable. Stay patient, practice and be disciplined. You only have so much money you can lose before you’re forced to quit. Be smart, it could take a couple years to get comfortable and consistently profitable, but its worth it being your own boss!