Has it really been about 2 months since my last post? A lot sure has happened since then. Hurricane Sandy certainly disrupted life for a while, and when I returned to trading sometime in November, it's pretty clear I wasn't ready. I was back from my hurricane hiatus, swinging for the fences, looking to make it big. Probably as a way of lashing out at life's challenges.
I was having upwards of 20-30 point daily P&L swings (both
profit and losses) trading ES with only 1 contract. I even had some
overnight sessions with the flighty and volatile soybeans, trading late
into the night resulting in 20 or more point P&L swings on a single
The only problem is that for every 20+ point day, there were more
days where I lost 20+ points on 10 point range day. Big recipe for
Yeah, I wasn't watching my risk...at all. And I paid the price...big time.
Although my forex account has quietly gained well over 150% for the
year, I ended down in my futures accounts over 70%. Luckily, in
absolute dollars, I had started with a minimal sized account just to
trade, so there's hardly any impact to my overall financial condition.
But from the psychological capital perspective, I was hit hard.
usually think primarily in percentages of portfolio, and when I took
the hit in November, I wasn't even thinking in terms of percentage of
portfolio risked (only thought how much $'s I could/should make). In
hindsight, this is simply not acceptable. This is not what a
professional trader does. This was pure gambling. In order to prevent
myself from truly blowing up all my accounts, I took
preemptive action and transferred money out. Time out.
learned through experience that it's so easy to destroy your money with
reckless trading, but so much more difficult to accumulate profits. All
it takes is one bad day of senseless trading to wipe out
days/weeks/months of hard work. It's a similar concept trusting someone
-- what takes years to build trust with someone, can be forever broken
in just moments. I need to respect this concept.
During the darkest hours, I admit, I had thoughts of quitting.
doesn't happen often, but I needed to think of an alternative life to
trading, and strangely enough, this usually brings me back to trading.
Trading is something I've been planning on doing full time for the past
couple decades, and I've realized after careful consideration that
there's no better time than now to continue charging ahead.
By the 2nd quarter of 2013, I will have been trading full time for 2
years. It sure does seem like I've been at it a lot longer. I
remember hearing many others say it takes on average 3-5 years in order
to become a consistently profitable trader (for those who even make it
that far), and I always thought I could accomplish it in a year...or
less. Sure hasn't been the case.
Where has this trading journey taken me so far?
started it all in early 2011 with stocks, and after about half a year, I
lost about half my account, literally all the losses were commissions.
I was breakeven on a gross basis, even with all my
revenge/rogue/impulse trades. I discovered that there were certain
defined setups that worked very well for me, but just couldn't be
patient enough to avoid the revenge and rogue trades.
As an escape, I decided to switch to futures which had more leverage
and no pattern daytrading rules to worry about, and ended up losing
over 70% in about a year. A little less than half of my losses were due
to commissions. Unlike stocks, I definitely had a gross loss trading
the ES and nearly all of my losses came on a handful of weeks where I
went on tilt and got sucked down a death spiral of revenge trading.
hindsight, the leverage/tick size/contract size of the ES emini in
relation to my account size really put me at a disadvantage. I couldn't
size down below 1 contract and reduce risk/scale out of positions as I
easily could with stocks. My thought was that if I couldn't be
consistently profitable with 1 contract, why even bother sizing up? I
was stubborn to try and make it with an all-in all-out trading style
using 1 contract.
What and how I'm doing now
And due in part to this
last experience of pain, I've recently escaped again. However, instead
of focusing more on forex (which has continued to work relatively well
since I started trading full time) I've decided to explore stocks once
again and for whatever reason, utilizing options heavily.
I'm currently trading with a very small equities account and don't
want to get triggered as a pattern day trader, so I only swing trade.
This restriction has reigned in the revenge and rogue trading
significantly, since I can only execute a few trades a day and thus have
the time to think them out.
During December to date, I've only had about 18 trades, of which
over 70% are winners with a profit factor greater than 3.00. In
comparison, a bad revenge filled day from the past would produce more
than 20 trades with an accuracy of < 30%, so this is significant
I am hopeful and optimistic that maybe, just maybe, I'm starting to make the turn. But then again, I've had this feeling
before...which then lead to me to overconfidence, which then led me to falling off the discipline wagon in
So I am determined more than ever to stay the
course of maintaining a consistent and disciplined trading process, rather than focusing on P&L. I also have to credit
the stock trading room I've recently joined, which has making a big
difference in the way I think and trade. More about that in the future.
2013, here we come!
Since I'll be traveling over the
holidays next week, this year is essentially over for me and I'll be
shutting down. So this will likely be my last post of the year.
I'm really looking forward to seeing my old friends and family back
in San Francisco. Hard to believe it has been about 2 1/2 years since we
moved from the beautiful Bay Area, so there will be a lot of wonderful catching up to
I look forward to 2013 with renewed optimism and confidence.
Happy Holidays to all, and best wishes for a great 2013!