Full time trading – How to beat the mind games

I keep getting pestered to post about life as a full time trader.

So has it been a dream move or has it been a tough few months? To be honest a bit of both! Before turning full time in July I had listened to people telling me it wasn’t as easy as it seemed to be a full timer. I didn’t think I would have any problem making the transition as I had full confidence in my trading ability and the prospect of making more money doing something I enjoy seemed fantastic.

The first day was strange. I set my screens up as normal and went over the games for that day picking out ones that seemed to offer good opportunities. I wrote the blog post and opened up the first market. This was it. My first day of the dream job.

I forget which match I was following. My finger was on the mouse button. Ahh here we go. Here’s an entry point……but hang on…..what if I’m wrong? No, I’ll wait for a better one. A couple of minutes later and another good entry point came along. I was about to enter the opening trade when I again hesitated. I needed a slightly better price with less risk. The opportunity passed. That was pretty much the pattern for the day. I was almost scared to enter a trade. I was looking for zero risk entry points and we all know they don’t exist.

The first day ended with a small profit and a little less confidence than I started with. Something I aren’t used to. Thankfully this got better the next day and by the end of the week I was trading pretty much as normal.

The second week was great. I finished it with a profit of around £1200 and that was even more satisfying as it was a week with no ATP games. I don’t mind trading WTA matches but I prefer being able to rely on the players doing what I expect at least SOME of the time!

[EDIT: it is interesting to read this 7 years later. I now prefer to trade WTA matches as they tend to be more “predictably unpredictable”.]

It is often said that a great deal of trading is done in the mind. This is totally true and my state of mind was about to take a kicking. Having encouraged me to turn full time my wife now decided that she didn’t like me working from home! “Its not normal. You should go OUT to work”. WTF? We sorted that spat out but it meant I didn’t feel comfortable while trading at home.  I felt like I was treading on eggshells all the time. So much for the dream job! Over the next few weeks there were pretty much constant arguments and I was stressed out most all the time. My trading was starting to suffer.

As time went on I was finding it harder to make the “easy” profits that had become second nature. Now before people jump down my throat for saying that profitable trading is easy let me clarify the remark. I am a totally self taught trader. When I was learning the markets there was no one passing out good advice. At least not to do with tennis trading.  I worked out ways to profit from tennis matches. They worked and even though I felt I was missing so many opportunities,  if I stuck to what worked for me I was consistently profitable.

Find what works for you and stick with it.

When your head is filled with emotional problems you don’t make good trading decisions but I had to earn a living. I was making profits throughout the morning and then losing a lot of it in 1 match with stupid trades. So I started to doubt my trading ability which just made the situation worse! I knew enough about the markets to make a profit. I was making easily more than I was when working for others but it was all very stressful and a lot less enjoyable. The situation at home suddenly took a turn for the worse and as I briefly mentioned on the blog at the time my wife and I separated. Apart from losing my family I now had nowhere to live or to work from. I ended up asking my father in law if I could stay with him. It was clear he didn’t want me there as we have had words in the past. I don’t think it will surprise anyone to hear my head wasn’t quite as relaxed and focused as it needs to be to trade successfully. Amazingly I was still able to make a wage.

The situation lasted the longest 3 weeks of my life. I worked out that part of the problem was that I had allowed the trading to take up too much of my time and attention. She felt neglected. To cut a long story short we sorted out our problems. We now make time for each other and make sure we go out regularly for meals etc.

[EDIT – I am looking back on this post in December 2018. My wife eventually came to terms with me not having a normal job. It has been a couple of years now since she objected to me being at home all the time. perhaps it had something to do with her being able to drop to 2 days a week at work. ]

However the heartache and stress had cooked my brain. Now that I could concentrate on my trading I realised that I wasn’t trading as I used to.  More worrying than that was that I just couldn’t remember how I used to trade. I literally could not remember the thoughts that I used to have when deciding on an entry point. Just try to imagine how frustrating that is. I had the skills required to make great profits. I had just forgotten them!

The more I tried to remember the deeper they got buried in the back of my mind. I don’t mean the strategies. Although I did go back and watch my videos!! Seriously! What I had lost was the thought process involved with trading. My mind had filled with other people’s ideas from the chatroom. Whilst their ideas worked for them they weren’t for me.

So I had everything I needed. Experience, trading skills, discipline. I just couldn’t access them! Aaaagh!!!  Sure I could continue grinding out profits but not on the scale that I was capable of. That wasn’t how the dream was meant to go and I wasn’t about to accept it. I have lost count of the number of traders who have said they tried full time trading but they just couldn’t get their heads round it. I didn’t want to let the dream go. But how the hell do I get my old trading self back?

If you want something badly enough you find a way. Years ago I had a passing interest in hypnotism. I was about 17 and used to play a lot of pool and snooker. I had a pool table at home and could pot anything on that table. However when I moved to the bigger snooker tables I wasn’t as successful. The cues were different, the pockets were less forgiving and the balls were larger. I managed to convince my brain that I was playing on the pool table at home.  For about 15 minutes it worked! Pots were easier and I was getting down on a shot and just playing rather than thinking about the size of the table and about how much harder it was on a 12ft table. After those few minutes my brain worked out that I was tricking it and the pots started missing but the experience told me that I was receptive to suggestion and therefore to being hypnotised.

I started to look around on the net but self hypnosis cd’s don’t come cheap. You are looking at £200 from some sites. Then I found a  guy who sold custom made mp3’s. You type in the messages that you want to be given during the hypnosis and he produces the mp3 and emails it to you. Mine took less than 2 hours to arrive. Even better was that it cost just £10. If it didn’t work it was worth a tenner to find out. After listening to the mp3 a couple of times I started to remember things about how I used to trade. I had lots of , “Oh yeahhh!” moments as the fog in my brain cleared away. My trading returned to how it was before I turned full time. After 2 or 3 weeks and before the start of the new season I ordered a second mp3. I gave myself fairly standard trading messages. I have found that my trading has actually improved. I aren’t missing so many opportunities and certainly aren’t worried about placing trades as they are based on sound entry rules.

The feeling of getting my old trading self back is fantastic. I am enjoying my trading again and look forward to every session.

So does this make me a nut? The honest answer is that I don’t care! It worked. I wasn’t certain if it was coincidence at first. Maybe I would have remembered things anyway. However having used the second mp3 and seeing and feeling my trading improve I am totally convinced.

So if you want to take the piss, feel free. Even better, have a good laugh about it on the bus or the train on your way to work in the morning.

Hypnosis won’t make you a better trader if you don’t already have the skills. However if it is the mental side of trading that is giving you problems I can strongly recommend giving it a try. Possibly the best ten quid I ever spent!

The site I used was http://www.hypnosoft.com/

    Trading Guide

7 thoughts on “Full time trading – How to beat the mind games”

  1. Glad to see it has worked out for you and I wish you all the best for the future. If something works then dont knock it, we all have our own ways of sorting stuff out.

  2. It’s unbelievable how i relate to what you have been thru! I turned professional this year and i still haven’t outcome that mental blocking you mentioned. I’ve been working on it but it seems so far away..

  3. Sincere, honest and heart felt post as always Paul. Glad you’ve got things sorted, especially on the domestic front. We are nothing without the ones we love.

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