I’ve been day trading for about ten years now. It’s been an amazing journey – although like most traders there have been some very tough periods and moments of serious self-doubt.
When I look back now, what I find most interesting is that the reasons I love trading now are very different from the reasons I originally decided to start day trading in the first place.
I started out because I had a job I really didn’t enjoy, and I was looking for something different. I also had some stock options from my employer that had vested, so I had a little bit of capital to get me started.
Like most people, I started day trading because I wanted the freedom of having no boss and no clients. And of course, I saw it as an opportunity to make lots of money. While that is all possible, there were other aspects of day trading that I really found enjoyable.
Firstly, it’s an amazing way to challenge yourself. Succeeding as a day trader is not easy and requires overcoming a series of hurdles. Even if you take the money out of it, there is still value in taking on big challenges. It’s a little like climbing a mountain or sailing across an ocean – even if there were no point to it there is value in taking on the challenge.
Secondly, I don’t think there’s anything else you can do that will teach you more about yourself. You really find out how much you know and don’t know about yourself when you start day trading. It really must be the best way there is to learn about psychology and belief systems. I learnt how much emotions can affect decision making, and I learnt how beliefs can be hard wired into our minds. It really takes a concerted effort to rewire the mind to make the right decisions all the time. But that’s all part of the challenge I have enjoyed so much.
To become a successful day trading you must go through a process of educating yourself on so many levels. It’s not a linear process because there are so many different facets of trading that you need to learn about. Trading strategies, psychology, risk management, crowd behavior and economics are just a few of the learning curves I had to experience. As I learn about each one, I would have to reconsider what I though I knew in other areas.
There are lots of great educational resources available to traders, but I actually think you need to join a structured program and have a mentor too.
Having guidance from someone who has been through it all before can really help you stay on track. There is so much to learn and so many traps that new traders fall into, and a mentor can quickly tell when you are falling into those traps.
When I started out, I didn’t have a mentor or any structure for the first 9 months. Signing up to a mentoring program really accelerated my learning process, but I think it would have gone faster if I had done so earlier. I picked up a few bad habits in the early days, and I didn’t even know I had them until my mentor pointed them out.
Being financially independent is amazing, but I really think the challenges and everything I have learnt are what made my decision to start day trading worth it.