Return from the Holidays Rejuvenated

12/23/2011 6:00 am EST

Focus: OPTIONS

Sam Evans

Instructor, Online Trading Academy

Traders can use the holidays to step away from the markets, assess what’s working and what isn’t, and take appropriate action in order to get on track—or even get out of the markets—in the New Year.

I don't think it really matters how old or young you are or what you do in life, but Christmas really is one of the best times of the year, and if we are honest with ourselves, there is always something we don't have and would like to get our hands on for Christmas.

For some, it may be a new car; for others, it may be more time with loved ones, or simply just a nice surprise may be all it takes! No matter the circumstances, this time of year is always a perfect time to spend with our loved ones, to take a break from the busy year gone by, and to reflect on the upcoming mysteries to come in the New Year.

In keeping with the theme of trading, I am positively sure that there are many traders out there right now who have their own specific wishes for their option trading going into 2012. Let's face it, this can be a tough business if we aren't prepared, and while there are some professional traders out there sitting back after a solid year's performance in the market, there are probably many, many more who are simply glad that it is over for this year and looking forward to a break from the frustration and misery their trading has poured on them in 2011.

One of the reasons I decided to become an instructor for Online Trading Academy is because of the satisfaction I get from helping traders of all levels make sense of the markets, and more importantly, to better understand their own minds and actions in the potential chaos of day-to-day speculation.

Let me say this now: option trading should not be stressful every day and in every way. Sure, there will be times when you feel like you are having a bad run and things are not really going your way, but the majority of the time, it should be simple and unemotional.

If option trading is bringing stress to your life and imposing financial misery, then now is the time to stop! Let me assure you that it really should not be like this. I hate to think that people are sitting there with their families this holiday season worried about the losses they have endured in the markets and wondering nervously how they can ever hope to turn things around. Right now, I bet that all those people want for Christmas is for their trading to turn around sooner rather than later.

First, relax and disconnect yourself for a while, especially at this time of the year. Ask yourself why you got into trading in the first place? Was it for a better quality of life and financial security? Maybe it was as a part-time activity to generate a little extra cash for those special moments in life? Or maybe you just wanted to have another way to make a little money while you carried on with what you were already doing?

To be honest, all of these are perfectly valid reasons to start trading, and I would encourage anyone to give this business a try, but only in a responsible manner. You see, if your trading is causing you misery and stress, then it is time to be honest with yourself and give it a rest for a while, because I know that this is not why you started in the first place.

NEXT: Make Changes and Make It Work

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One of the toughest things to do as a trader is to be honest with yourself and know when enough is enough, especially if you have spent many months or even years up until this point grafting away and putting the time in consistently, only to end up either at breakeven, or in a drawdown after much time at the grindstone with no thanks whatsoever.

If this is you (I know it was me once), then let me tell you this: You can make it work, but if what you have been doing so far is not working, then there is absolutely no reason to carry on, as things are not going to change anytime soon. Stop measuring your progress by your results thus far and take a different angle by instead measuring your progress by your action from this moment forward.

I would love to say that in this article, I can give you everything you need to make your trading consistently profitable, but there is only so much I can achieve with just the written word as my weapon.

That's why we have classes and our Extended Learning Track (XLT) program at Online Trading Academy. Progress can take time and will take forever if you are not getting the right kind of education in the first place. However, what I can do is to tell you right now that change begins from within; specifically, your attitude and beliefs are the core generators of results in all areas of your life.

See related: Overcoming Fear and Trading Indecision

Long before I got into trading, I found myself in a pretty bad place career-wise and panicked about what I was going to do.

I was made redundant from my dream career in the music industry and could not find a new job anywhere in country. After taking any work I could find, I bumped into an old work colleague who had trained as a personal coach. She offered me some coaching sessions to help me get focused again on what I wanted to do in life, and I reluctantly took her up on the offer.

I must admit I was a little skeptical about the whole thing, but I had nothing really to lose, and considering my work situation, I guessed it wouldn't hurt to give it a try.
One of the most powerful things which came out of those sessions was that I needed to adjust my attitude. This was obviously not something I was willing to admit at the time, but she helped me to realize that much of my failure to kick start my career again was a result of my negativity.

I felt that I had been robbed and the world was against me. She said to me, "Stop focusing on the fruits and look at the roots instead."

Confused at first by this statement, I soon saw that I was looking more at my current situation (my fruits) and putting all my energy into beating myself up about it. What I recognized was that in order to change my outlook, I needed to start diverting my attention to what I had the power to control, namely my actions (my roots) and attitude. By developing solid roots, I would be able to produce better fruits.

Like me back then, most of us judge our success by our results, rather than our actions, and trading is no different. No matter how hard you are striving for trading success, you have to ask yourself whether you are really doing everything you can do to give yourself the best chance to make it work?

Instead of blaming the market for your losses or your strategy, step back and ask yourself whether you are actually causing the problems by not following a plan or disciplining yourself and your actions day to day?

See related: How to Find Your “Edge” in Trading

It can be easy to think that the world is against you sometimes and that you have the worst luck around, particularly during those times when you are enduring a string of losses in the markets and every time you seem to take action, it goes the other way.

I have been there and have the t-shirt hanging in my wardrobe! All I can say, though, is that there is always somebody else out there in a worse position than you.
This is a time to look around and take pride in what you already have rather than only focusing on what you don't have. The markets are not going anywhere and you have the time to make this work. Trust me, a lot of belief in yourself will go a long way in this business, but only if you stay positive, remain focused, and are willing to make changes when you need to.

My advice this Christmas is to forget about what you want and recognize what you actually need to get by. I wouldn't be surprised if you find that you already have everything you need, and when you realize that, everything else you want seems to find its way to you with a lot less effort.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

By Sam Evans, instructor, Online Trading Academy

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