Keeping your hand in – 5 things I’m doing to prevent skill fade

Right now I’m on a trading break, taking time to sort a few things out and enjoy the important things in life like family and simple fresh air, but just because I’m not hitting the bid doesn’t mean I’m not keeping my hand in the game, here’s how.

1. Balance

I think if you ask any successful trader with any longevity, or look at their lifestyle you would find they have life balance well weighed off. Trading can be such a consuming endeavour that it can take over your life. Recently I’ve found that focusing on the big picture of what you hold important in your life, appreciating the basics and remembering that it’s the long game that counts has helped drastically decrease my agitation for making progress in the markets. Deciding that right now the bulk of my attention needs to be on other things has been a big relief for me and committing to a healthy balance of life pursuits while allowing myself a portion of my time to enjoy my future trading goals give me a big feel good factor. Less is more is at play here and I’m savouring it all the more for it.

2. Reading

It seems that much like click bait blog titles, devouring books is very in vogue right now. You see everywhere online lists of the “top 5 books this CEO recommends this summer”. Now I love books, love reading and love the sharing of good recommendations, but I feel that there is a bit too much emphasis online placed on how many titles you consume, or how many audiobooks you can listen to on x2 speed. I dialled this back this year, reintroduced fiction and read books slowly, and it’s been great. I’m naturally a slow reader I think but chilling out with it has meant I’ve managed to take in and really enjoy some challenging reads.

Every time I read a book on the financial crisis I learn something, I usually cant repeat any of it more than an hour after I’ve read it as its still such a complex history, but I get a lot out of reading books around the different areas of finance other than books just focusing on trading. For me there’s an inherent psychological benefit to feeling that slowly I’m assimilating knowledge of an industry and an area of human behaviour that I’m trying to profit from. I may have gone weeks without clicking an order but reading something fun, informative and loosely connected to trading keeps me feeling connected, without the stress.

3. Tune In, Tune Out

I’m not trying to sound cryptic here but recently, in my period of being away from active trading there have been a couple of articles, podcasts and webinars from people I enjoy listening to. Previously I’d have consumed these and felt the urge to binge on trading material to get back up to speed. That has usually lead me down the garden path and before I know it I’ve ended up frustrated at lack of progress and stressed out. Recently I’ve tuned into to these media casts, enjoyed them then and tuned out and ignored all the other things I’d have previously gotten sucked into. The benefit? I’ve enjoyed some great material, gone away and processed it, and actually benefited from it rather than compound it with excess information.

4. Do some drill

Thankfully I don’t mean marching up and down a parade square for no reason at all, I just mean breaking out the sim account to practice for a short period the mechanics of how your platform works. I’m not an advocate of sim trading in general, mostly due to the fact that it doesn’t simulate psychological influences or in a lot of cases correct fills, but it’s pretty good for making sure you still know your way around the trading platform. I find doing some basic drills every now and then goes a long way to making you feel like you’ve been in the market, so keeps the fear of missing out at bay for a while longer.

5. Enjoy everything other than trading

Sounds obvious I know, but it’s the one thing that I think a lot of us retail folk forget to do. Our lives become about being profitable, achieving consistency and “making it” that we forget trading is supposed to enhance our lives, add a degree of freedom and relieve us somewhat of the stresses of traditional working life. Mostly the pursuit of trading achieves the exact opposite for a lot of people a lot of the time. as Peter Davies of Jigsaw trading says “go away and forget trading or the weekend, it’ll be there in the morning”. When I listened to this advice and actually acted on it, it was a good feeling. Life is to be enjoyed, and taking time to enjoy it means that when you come back to all things trading, it’s much more satisfying.

For me it’s all about the way you view things and the way I’ve viewed trading recently has changed. Some would say that if I’m doing the above 5 things then I’m not really having a break, but the key is I’m doing them because that’s what I enjoy doing when I get time to do what I want, and for me that takes a lot of the pressure off.

The main reason that is keeping me from being active in the market right now wont be an easy fix, it’ll be a while till it’s sorted and I can get back in the game proper, but it will worth it when I do because the work I will have put it to getting in a stable position to trade properly will allow me to trade knowing I’m in a position to do so justifiably. Until then, I’ll just continue to be hungry to learn and happy to keeping my hand in when I can, where I can. After all, the key to a healthy eating is a balanced and varied diet – I think the same can be said for trading as a goal in the wider context of our lives.

Have a great weekend.

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