If you aren’t already a full-time trader, you may be looking at trading as a way to escape your current financial situation or create a windfall of cash that will solve your financial troubles, states Jared Tendler, Author, The Mental Game of Trading.

While I want your ambitions for trading to take you far, if you are looking at trading as an escape from present circumstances, it adds a whole other level of pressure that can compromise your execution and actually damage your ability to succeed.

But a change in perspective can help.

You Can’t Buy Skills

Urgency can add to the pressure. You hate your job, the fact that you have to answer to someone else, and that you can’t trade full-time yet. You want out now. But the intensity of those emotions causes breakdowns in decision-making and execution. Another part of the problem is you think that if you just had enough money and capital to be free of the other job, you would suddenly be able to trade perfectly. But money is not the answer to becoming a great trader.

You’re looking for trading to be like winning the lottery. Of course, that’s not an entirely fair comparison, but to some degree, when you make money without skill you’re at greater risk of being like the 80% of lottery winners who end up right back where they were before winning. Why does that happen? Because you lack the requisite skills to understand how to manage an account of that size—technically, strategically, and mentally. If you don’t build an account through a sustained period of trial and error, systematically developing your skills and knowledge, and honing a mentality and degree of emotional stability—you’re at greater risk of losing it.

If you want to trade full-time, you need to be good at it. You need to build true competency that can withstand the chaos of the markets and adapt when it changes. The only way to upgrade your skills is to work on them, and a shift in your mentality about your current situation could lead to substantial benefits.

Time to Train

What if instead you viewed your current situation as a time to train? Your current job may provide just the financial freedom you need to learn how to trade well. When there is less pressure to make money now, you make fewer mistakes, and you learn better from the mistakes you do make. The opportunity for growth is higher that way vs feeling an intense urgency to avoid mistakes and then having your emotions go haywire when you do make one.

When you graduate to trading full-time, the pressure is going to be higher. When your livelihood depends on trading, the emotional intensity around mistakes and losses is scaled way up. You want to have already built a skill set capable of handling that kind of pressure. Right now is your chance to gain the experience and skill you need to form that foundation.

Keep the Past in the Past

For some of you, being ready to make the leap also means going back to review your trading and personal past.

What is it that really bothers you about your current situation that you are trying to escape from? Are you looking to erase a failure from your past? Whether in trading or personally, past failures can make you feel like your past experience isn’t valuable. 

If you are beating yourself up about the past, I encourage you to explore failures and missteps, and come to terms with them before moving on. All failures hold lessons to learn from and they are valuable when you look at them in that light.

You need to remove some of the emotional intensity to unstick yourself from past failures. Remember, emotional intensity is what’s behind the errors such as sizing up too quickly, reentering after you get stopped out, not taking profit because you are looking for the home run, etc. A home run trade will not heal the pain of the past. You have to deal with that pain directly.

You don’t get to escape from unresolved problems. You just bring them with you. A better way is to have a solid plan to get you to the next step of where you want to be. 

With the right perspective and strategy, you can get there.

Jared Tendler, MS is a leading expert in trading psychology. His clients include institutional firms and independent traders from around the world. Be sure to check out his highly acclaimed book, The Mental Game of Trading. To learn more about Jared, visit his website: jaredtendler.com.