Back in the day I used to think of myself as a big fish within the niche of my small South Florida pond. A successful business, a beautiful home, kids in private schools, and a sweet convertible sports car were the fruits of that labor. Striving for success and acquiring the trappings thereof consumed much of my waking hours early in my career. Maybe it’s the same for you.
Anyhow when I used to visit George, my counselor, up in Coconut Grove, I often took the back way up Old Cutler Road. It’s a winding 2 – laner which works its way along Biscayne Bay from Homestead up toward Miami. Old Cutler’s path sweeps the entire the American economic spectrum. It begins in a neighborhood described by of abject poverty, drug dealing and hopelessness. I used to feel like such a big shot beginning that drive. When the air was cool, I’d put the top down on the convertible. The feeling of power under the pedal and success would fill me. As you drive north, the scenery dramatically changes. In less than 10 miles, you go from “the projects” to gorgeous neighborhoods built during Miami’s golden age from 1905 through the 1920’s. Mansions on manicured estates worth 10’s of millions of Dollars. Driving through that wealth deflated my balloon. It made me feel like a piece of garbage. All the education, all the hard work on my business and here I was, probably making less than the Gardener on these Estates. I was a piss ant in my own mind. It was painful.
After explaining my discontentment to George he used to tell me, “All you have to do is decide to step off the hamster’s wheel”. Running on the hamster’s wheel gets you awfully tired and you go nowhere. Once you step off by skipping the desire, the reaching, and the constant comparisons to focus on your own contentment, life begins to unfold in different and better ways. You can admire a beautiful waterfront home for its architecture and elegance without becoming pissed off in the knowledge that you’ll never own it.
I see Traders everyday creating their personal prisons brick by brick as they compare their trading results with those on social media or with trader’s they know in “real life”. Why aren’t my results better than theirs? What am I doing wrong? I have been trading for 5 years and I don’t seem to be very far along. This guy has only been trading for 3 years and is killin’ it. I suck! It’s that constant comparison that leads you down the path of self-doubt and unhappiness. Teddy Roosevelt captured the essence of it over 100 years ago when he said “Comparison is the thief of joy”
A More Productive Path
Stop Comparing. Step off the hamster’s wheel. Maintain a laser-like focus on YOUR process. ( not your trading results ) . Benchmark yourself against yourself and no one else. Ask questions and monitor your responses. Am I executing my process better than I was last month? Am I controlling my impulses to over trade? Am I being more selective by taking only the very best set ups? Am I quickly dumping losers? Am I carving away the wasted, unproductive hours within my week so I can devote more time doing trade preparation? As emotions tug at me during the trading day, am I improving at documenting them in my journal? Am I adhering to responsible and prudent position sizes or am I still being a putz by trading out-sized positions that will hurt me? Identify important areas to work on that you feel are holding you back.
Trust me. If you keep the focus on your own improvement, ( rather than comparing your results to others ) you’ll experience a well-spring of new-found sense of accomplishment and progress. Over time you will notice your new attention to detail in your trading process. The impulsive trades will dissolve and fade away. Your trade selection criteria will become narrow and crisp. You can’t help but notice your trading results gradually improve as you hone your craft. Most importantly, you’ll be able to congratulate your fellow traders on their huge wins without your own feelings becoming diminished. That will be possible because you’ll understand that what they do does not hold one iota of meaning for your life or your work. That realization is real power. It cuts away the thick branches and clears the debris from your path toward making progress in your own trading.
- Become mindful of when you are making comparisons between yourself and others.
- Making constant comparisons is a dead-end mindset that can become destructive.
- Understand that the trading results of others hold no meaning or value for what you are doing.
- Use your journal to document the emotions of envy, anger or diminishment that may grip you when you see other traders “kill it”. Try to catch it in real time.
- Turn your attention inward. Focus on your process and your execution of it. At the end of the day it’s all that matters.
- Benchmark yourself against yourself. Celebrate when you see your trading elevate to a new and higher level.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Good Luck!
Reach me anytime at [email protected]