It hasn’t been a very productive day. The internet at the office was playing up, so I came home at around 11. I have tried a bit of day trading today but otherwise nothing done.

I have had pretty much two weeks off, and it was not helpful. I have lost momentum, and I need to regain it.

Part of the problem is that I am now dealing with more advanced problems. At first, I was interested in how to get into a trade without being stopped out right away. I have made some progress on that, and had some winners. Now I am wrestling with two harder problems: how to take profits, and boredom.

The boredom comes from three sources.

  • The lack of human contact. I need to get used to this. 
  • The irrelevance of much of the news that I read. Now that I am focussed on making money, and get no brownie points for knowing a lot about what is going on, I see that a lot of “news” is just froth. Reality changes much more slowly than 24-hour news would have us believe. But you have to read the news to know when things are really changing, and to keep the current state of play fresh in your mind.
  • Mental displacement of the pressure to succeed. I have always tended to do this with exams — it’s why I spend the days (and weeks) before an exam bored rather than revising. I didn’t do it with my CFA exams, and I have much more discipline now than I used to have; but it seems the tendency is still there. The answer is to just keep going.
On taking profits, I think I have still been thinking too much like an investor. I have been asking questions like “is the story still intact” and “is the trend still holding”, and staying in the trade if the answer is “yes”. This may be a mistake — it’s too easy to convince oneself not to take profits. Perhaps a better question, and a trader’s question, is “have I made enough on this trade?” 
It is true that sticking with trades for a long time is a way to make big money. But most trades are not the beginning of a strong and long-lived trend. Better to take profits when you have made enough — this principle can be overruled on the rare occasions where a really big move could be in the offing.

Update: The word “I” does appears rather a lot in this post. Sorry if you are bored by this navel-gazing. Be assured that you are helping me, dear readers: after writing this post I had thought things through and had a very productive afternoon. A few more productive days and I might have something interesting to say.