Adding No-Action to your Repertoire

Action with positive outcome vs…

… no action vs…

…action with negative outcome…

…hmmmm.

Sometimes we become oblivious to actions with negative outcomes.

Society preaches to be active.

We listen.

We feel that doing something means a step forward.

Well, it ain’t necessarily so.

Many times, and especially in the markets, it actually pays to do nothing.

The most successful investors in the world will tell you, that the biggest money is made while sitting. They’ll also tell you, that almost no one has learnt how to sit.

They’re right.

Meanwhile, I’m telling you, right here and right now, that you can sit comfortably upon your investment without jumping only if you’ve bought with margin of safety. Think about it.

Also, the most successful traders in the world will tell you that the number one action that saves money in the markets is no action. Yeah, when markets move sideways, which is about 60%+ of the time, trades tend to get stopped out both ways, and the trader loses money repeatedly. At such times, it’s better not to trade.

What’s vital here?

Recognition.

Recognize that it’s a time for no action.

Then, do something else.

For this to be practical, make trading and investing your bonus activities.

Meaning, that if your bread and butter depends upon another mainstream activity, you can easily switch off from trading and investing for a while, at will, and without any negative impact upon your basics.

Also, you need to be versatile enough to have fall-back activities lined up, which switch on where trading and / or investing switch off. These need to take over then, and keep the mind occupied.

The danger of not going into no-action mode is the continuous committing of actions with negative outcomes.

That’s precisely where we don’t want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Satisfying One’s Video Game Urge

We’re all kids on some level.

Do you remember when video game parlours hit your town?

We used to pretty much storm them, and blow up a lot of pocket money.

Do you remember the Gulf War (1991), and how it was portrayed on television like a video game?

Our life is about button-clicks.

If we don’t click a button for a day, we have an urge to click buttons. We get withdrawal symptoms.

Cut to the markets.

The marketplace today is at your fingertips. You can contol your interaction with a few button-clicks.

What’s the inherent danger?

More and more clicks, of course.

Your circumstances allow you to get as much action as you please. Play the markets to your heart’s content.

Is that good?

Depends.

What this does is satisfy your craving for action.

It also generates fat brokerage for your broker.

Volume does not necessarily translate into profits. So, it’s not a given that you’ve made more money by trading more.

The inherent danger is that your A-game is threatened by the extra action.

Never let anything threaten your A-game.

For example, if your A-game is investing, the extra trading action might confuse you, and you might start treating your investment portfolio like a trading portfolio.

Over a few months, your investment portfolio will then actually start looking like a trading portfolio. Does that solve your purpose?

No.

You’ve ruined your A-game.

Nobody’s asking you not to get your daily shot of button-clicks. It’s a free world. Go, get your daily dose. Fine.

However, anyone with common-sense will ask you to keep your A-game intact. Your reckless button-clicking, thus, needs to be channelized, and should not blow over to ruin your A-game.

Welcome to the world of options, as in the trading instruments called “options”. Fire away, satisfy your video game urge. There are cheap options, and there are expensive options. Move amongst the cheaper ones. Satisfy your video game urge. It doesn’t matter if you lose money. The sums in question will be small. At least you’ve gotten all your impulsiveness out of the way. Now, when you approach your long-term investment portfolio, you are not brash, but focused.

What happens when trading is your A-game, and not investing?

Ever heard of overtrading?

Can drain you. Life might become moody. Kids and family would then bear the brunt of your trading hangover.

Worth it? Naehhhh.

So what do you do?

If trading’s your A-game, satisfy your video-game urge on an actual playstation or something. Use your imagination. Play the keyboard. Write. Whatever it takes for you not to …

… overtrade. Do not overtrade at any cost. Save ample energy and your good mood phase for your family.

What’s the thin line between normal trading and overtrading? How do you notice that you are overtrading?

Energy reserves. You know it when energy you’ve reserved for something else is seeping into your trading. That’s when you are overtrading.

You see, so much in this field is not mathematical or formula-based, but feeling- and art-based. Discovering the thin line between normal trading and overtrading is an art.

Frankly, even stock-picking is an art. You can go on about numbers, and trendlines and blah, blah, blah, but fact remains that ultimately and in the end, picking a multibagger is more of a gut-feel thing.

While trading, you’re looking for spikes. When and where is the next spike going to happen? Ultimately and in the end, that’s also a gut-feel thing.

In the marketplace, apart from needing to be technically savvy, or needing to be a number-cruncher, one needs to be an artist too. Yeah, the artist’s touch binds the game together, and makes it enjoyable to play.

Burn-Out Notice

Information overload.

Short circuit in the brain.

Black-out.

You want to move your left hand, but the right one reacts.

Your body needs re-wiring, and rest.

This set of circumstances comes with the territory of trading. Often.

Imagine plugging into the complex matrix of erratic market play. That’s what happens when your trade gets triggered. Your poor nervous-system then deals with a lot of load, which doesn’t recede till well after the trade. Joy at profits, sorrow at losses, life is one big emotional pendulum. And this is just one trade. A sluggish trader might take one trade a week. The over-active one could trade many times in a single day.

What are we dealing with here?

Basically, the writing on the wall is quite clear. If you’re not able to regularly offset the damage to your system due to trading, you’re looking at early burn-out. As in, very early burn-out.

Your method of recuperation needs to bring your system back to its base-line, and then some. Your recuperation savings account needs to be in the black, as much as possible. That’ll ensure longevity in the trading arena.

What happens if you are drained, and the next trading opportunity comes? For me, the answer is crystal clear. Don’t take the trade. Rest. Recuperate. You would have played it wrong anyway. You were drained even before the trade, remember?

Sometimes, periods of recuperation can be long. At these times you need to stop comparing yourselves to other traders who find unlimited energy to keep trading, from God knows where. You are you. They are they. Who gave you the right to compare? Why are you judging others playing to a different plan with different energy and time-set parameters. If you really want to judge, then judge yourself. That’s it.

So, if a prolonged recuperative time-frame announces itself, respect it.

Your system will last longer in the game.

Trading is about sticking to the ground-rules, and then lasting. Your market-edge plays out only over a large number of trades taken over a long time-frame. Over the long run, your market-edge makes you show winning numbers, because the sample-size is big enough, and the time-frame under consideration is sufficient for many big-hitter trades to occur. Your big-hitter trades give a tremendous impetus to your numbers.

Even the best of edges can show a loss over a small sample-size (i.e. number of total trades taken in one’s trading career). It’s statistically very possible to suffer ten losses in a row, for example. You can call a coin-flip wrong ten times in a row. Possible. And that’s a 50:50 shot per flip. Your market-edge gives you a 60:40 shot, or maybe even a 70:30 shot. Still not good enough to not suffer a losing streak.

Winning streaks occur with time, and with supportive sample-sizes. Because of your edge, the winning streaks outnumber the losing streaks.

In the world of trading, if you want to win, you need to last.

The Sweetest Spot

In the markets, we often lose our balance.

Then we find it. Only to lose it again.

The key is maintaining this balance over long periods of time.

There’s a spot, where everything, suddenly, goes into balance. I like to call it the sweetest spot. What are its characteristics?

Firstly, at the sweetest spot, health is intact, on the physical as well as on the mental level. Then, one has identified a trade, entered it, and the trade is in the money. At this spot, the spouse respects you and your profession, because neither you nor your profession are bothering him or her for space. Relationship with him or her is harmonious. At the sweetest spot, you find time for your children. You’ve got a rapport going. Your off-spring learns from your every word and action.

Phew, sounds amazing!

Wait, there’s more!

At the sweetest spot, one is debt-free. Neither is one under-trading, nor is one over-trading. Reactions to market events are sharp, and one turns with the market, i.e. one is in the Zone. As profit levels increase, so does position-size, proportionately. You are getting your strategy basics right, one after the other.

At the sweetest spot, goodness wells inside the human being, and he or she does an extra bit for the benefit of society.

Life, profession, existence…it’s all one smooth, harmonious, automatic flow.

Then, in a flash, the spot is gone. One or more of the many factors mentioned tend to go haywire. That’s quite normal.

Which only means, that you start looking for the sweetest spot again.

Whenever you find it once more, your primary goal is to maintain it as long as possible, again, and again and again (to the power of n, with n > 1).

Before you realize it, you are then staring at financial freedom. You are there, financially independent of any other factor or being. You have arrived.

Some things in life are really sweet, and worth striving for.

Dealing with Distraction

I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.

The stand-out quality I admire about Holmes, apart from his mastery in observation and deduction, is his ability to switch off.

In the midst of the most engrossing case, Holmes will switch off for half a day or more, and will visit the museum, or will play the violin. While having switched off, there will not be a single thought on his mind concerning the ongoing investigation. He will be fully and totally involved in the recreational activity. Of course he switches off at a juncture where he knows that nothing of consequence is happening for the next so many hours, but that’s not the point.

The ability to switch off is a huge asset to the trader. It allows the trader’s mind and body to recuperate. Also, it does away with overtrading. If a position is showing good profit, the trader who installs a trailing stop, and then switches off, opens the window for still larger profits.

At many times, one is distracted. It is potentially dangerous to trade while distracted, just as it is dangerous to drive while communicating on the cellphone. While distracted, the trader needs to switch off. As long as it takes. Till the source of distraction is nullified, at least in the trader’s mind.

Just a minute, forget about the trader. Investors need to be experts at switching off too, after having entered into an investment. If they don’t have this ability, they’ll be thinking about their investment day in, night out, for years at a stretch. The investment will eat into their life. If we’re looking at the average investor with 10 to 20 investments and without the ability to switch off, we’re also looking at a mental and emotional wreck.

Traders and investors both need to learn how to switch off from Sherlock Holmes.

Taking Compulsion Out of One’s Trading Equation

Mr. Cool’s next trading cameo starts a few months after his last blow-up. He keeps coming back, you’ve gotta give him that.

This time around, his girl-friend wants a fur coat. Cool is determined to buy a fur coat for her from his trading profits.

Thus, Mr. Cool has put himself in a position where he is compelled to trade. Compulsion adds pressure. A trader under pressure commits basic blunders. There’s no question of getting into the Zone while pressure mounts.

Sure enough, Cool overtrades. Apart from that, he fails to cut his position-size after the first run of losses. These are two basic mistakes. They are being caused by compulsion. Mrs. Market is ruthless with players who commit basic blunders. As usual, Cool blows up, yet again. The fur coat is not happening. In fact, there’s no girl-friend anymore.

Meanwhile, Mr. System Addict has been evolving. He’s achieved a large-sized fixed income by ploughing previous profits into safe fixed-income products. He’s under no compulsion to trade. His fixed income allows him to live well, even without trading. He has a lot of time to think. Often, he gets into the Zone, where he’s moving in tandem with the market, and is able to swing with the market’s turn. What makes him get into the Zone so often?

It’s the lack of pressure. He’s comfortable. A free mind performs uniquely. There’s no question of making basic mistakes, because full focus is there. Addict is a human being who is aware. He knows when he is in the Zone. That’s when he doubles up his position-size and logs his trade. His win : loss ratio is 70:30 by now. His trading income surpasses his fixed income for the year.