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Dieting and trading are pretty straightforward activities. In the US trillion dollar businesses are devoted to both subjects and yet 95% of people who attempt to either trade or diet fail miserably.
Allow me to suggest an answer. Those of you who have been reading me for years know, I have tried to shed weight for the better part of last decade. I was hardly fat – but I was getting a belly, the old suits did not fit, and my sense of pride demanded that I return to the trim fighting shape of my college glory years.
Yet nothing I tried worked. At best I’d lose 5 pounds over a period of months and then essentially gain them all back.
About three months ago I decided to stop eating carbs. That’s it. No portion control. No special cooking directions. No pills. No additional exercise save for the once a week weight lifting session that I’ve been doing for more than a decade.
But here is the thing. When I say I stopped eating carbs. I mean stopped totally.
I haven’t touched a bagel. I haven’t eaten any pizza. I never have any dessert. I was known as a Jew who cooked Italian like a “Neopolitano”, but I haven’t had an ounce of pasta since I started my little experiment.
The net result is I dropped more than 15 pounds. The old suits fit and I even had to add a notch to my belts to keep the pants up.
Somewhere along the line, I realized that dieting wasn’t an extracurricular activity or a hobby. It was a permanent lifestyle choice. That realization dawned on me slowly but powerfully.
When can I have dessert?
When can I have pizza?
When can I eat muffins-bagels-donuts?
That may sound harsh, but I am actually fine with it. I like being lean and mean and I am willing to give up the carbs to maintain my weight.
The unvarnished truth in life is that there is no such thing as balance. There are always costs to achieving your goals and most people are simply not willing to pay them.
So what does this have to do with trading?
Just about everything.
Trading like dieting is a discipline of a few simple rules and just as with dieting you need to find the program that works best for you. I am a day trader by nature. I make five to ten pips and move on to the next idea. The thought of holding positions for weeks on end does not appeal to me at all.
If someone told me that the only way I could lose weight is by eating porridge I would never diet. So just as with dieting, you need to find a trading strategy that will work for you. Something that you will be glad to do every day rather than be forced to do every day.
That’s the first and foremost task because nothing else will work if you are not comfortable with your trading style.
But, just as with dieting, once you find your methods you need to COMMIT.
When do you trade without a stop?
When do you size up beyond 2 times equity?
When do you revenge trade?
When do you take a random setup?
Once you realize that trading is a lifestyle and not a just a sideline hobby it is amazing how your approach to the markets changes. You stop trying to win every moment and focus on becoming better at the game. Losing trades still hurt, but far, far less because you now see beyond the next pip and that vision keeps you from doing all the stupid things we that we do in the markets to sabotage our success.
There is no magic to losing weight or banking profits. It just a matter of deciding if you really, really want to succeed. I don’t mean if you really want to be skinny or be rich. We all want that. I mean if you are willing to do the things to move you in that direction. 95% of people don’t and that’s why they fail.
It’s that simple.
(PS. This article is obviously meant as a parable for trading. I fully realize that there are people with serious metabolic and genetic issues for whom simple dieting does not work and I do not want to minimize the seriousness of such chronic conditions. I am not offering medical advice, just market observation)