Monday, December 15, 2008

Special Post - Empty Tank

Dear Diary,

As I sit here tonight pondering the remaining few weeks of 2008, and while up until about a week ago I had planned on "running through the tape" right to the 12/31 finish -- or at least during this last full week of 2008 trading as I mentioned in this weekend's video -- I now seriously wonder if I've simply emptied the tank dry.

I say this not because of the lack of market action or recent performance, but because for the first time all year, I can honestly say that the "disinterested" gremlin has now joined its "mentally fatigued" brother. And such a combination can be a recipe for disaster. Sure the market's lack of recent action is likely contributing to my feeling, but I believe it goes far deeper than that on a personal level. And I'm also finding it hard to get pi$$ed at my trading which is usually the cure for complacency.

As I've stated all year, this year's journey was in part a test to see if I could take one year of my life, and rededicate myself to trading in such a way where I'd learn what the results could be if I truly "left it all out on the field". All out, no looking back, no regrets ... pick your mantra. It's something I'd always wanted to do, and so I decided at the ripening age of 47 that 2008 would be that year.

Looking back at September through November, aside from one large hit in early October, I seemed to be dancing with the market cheek-to-cheek, often matching its violent moves as if we knew each other's intentions ahead of time. +$20K days begat +$40K days, which begat +$50K days, with even a +$70K day thrown in. I woke up every day invigorated and excited. I felt as if I were in my 20s again, and my mind seemed sharper than ever.

And while I'll never use the sl*** word (rhymes with "dump"), I'm clearly in a funk right now. My interest isn't there, which is resulting in hesitation and a flat to declining equity curve over the last several trading days. And it's now been a week since I had back-to-back positive days -- which is almost unheard of for me. Frankly, I'll take a couple of modest $+5K days right now in a row. Hell, I'll take two strong trade sequences in a row.

I mentioned the other day that I need to find that finishing Olympic swim kick. But the arms are heavy. I can see the finishing wall, but can't feel my arms. I look to my right and left and they're still there, but I can't feel them. Somehow, they're moving, but it's a struggle. I honestly feel like Michael Phelps in one of his last races where his goggles filled with water and he simply completed the last half of the race without seeing a thing. Except that he continued straight, while I'm starting to zig-zag.

If those looking over my shoulder are wondering if I'm over-dramatizing this, I'm not. This year has purposely been my mental Olympic race to end all races. A year where I'd learn more about myself than any other year of my life. A year where I'd put my decade of market "training" to the harshest test possible. A year to put up or shut up. A year of pure endurance.

It's quite possible though that the tank has now run dry. While the early fall's performance momentum seemed to carry me in the first week of December, that wave seems over and I'm truly looking to a Greater Strength to carry me over the finish line.

The needle reads E and the fuel light is on.

The final outcome is now out of my hands.

Maybe the true lesson is that it was never there in the first place.

5 comments:

Aaron said...

Hi Don,

It's not only you who's having a rough time the last few sessions.

I am getting chopped up in the lighter volume, each bar seems to pop a little further than normal. Then, after taking it on the chin (stop), price whips back around and moves in the “darn” direction I wanted it to.

I thought I would trade until Friday, but I'm throwing in the towel early. The conditions are not right. I don't want to play until the volume comes back.

To me it's like card counting... there are no tens left in the deck. If I try and beat the dealer when there are only small cards left, it will hurt my psychology.

Have a great Xmas, New Year break! Look forward to reading your blog next year.

Aaron.

Mojo said...

Don - It appears that the market is reflecting a tremendous amount of fatigue across all timeframe players. It seems like all daytraders are getting chopped up in the sloppy tape, not just you. The longer timeframe traders/investors appear to be exhausted and gun-shy, especially after the Madoff scandal. Many have closed their books and called it a year leaving the daytraders to knife each other into year end. Finally, market watchers and technicians have been expecting a rally since last Monday. Instead, we've gotten tight, choppy action despite a low of news flow. More of the same is the last thing most traders are expecting...which means that's probably what we'll get.

Donn Carroll said...

Hi Don
Just started reading your blogs I haven't read all of it yet but I had to comment on your discouragement. When I first started trading the ES from the West coast I would get up early to get ready to trade and try to do the night sessions etc. I found I was sleep deprived. There are major studies that show we need 8 hours of sleep to function without stress.
Your might try 8 good hours of sleep each night to eliminate stress along with the proper supplements. Just a thought that has helped me.
I have learned much from your journal. Keep it up.
Blessings
Donn

RexVulgaris said...

Cupla points.

Market tone has morphed again last 2 weeks.. I can see it in my bottom line.. Spent half of ytd bitching and moaning about scratching trades that went less than a handle against me and then went 10 handles the right way.. I scratched on both because mkt went sideways for 7 minutes after entry.. and I like to be at least partially right QUICKLY. It usually takes me 10 days or so to adapt.. I suspect that may be part of the cause of your year end weariness.

Secondly going back a few sessions I saw you got hit by the afterhours car 'no bailout' news. High probability setups is the extended down day that closes near lows.. will bounce onight and look at the last hour highs 85%+. Can I suggest waiting for entry till bang on the 5.30 close or the 6pm reopen.. Those that didnt kill their underwater longs rth oft live on afterhours hope and sell into 5.30 pm and give up for the night.. stop in then just below the lows. [size of course is difficult in current boobex]

-RexV

Don Miller said...

Great posts folks.

Mojo - Nice description. (I used to know a stellar Mojo in a former life ... I wonder if you're that guy.)

Sounds like there are many on the sidelines biding their time for new rhythms.

Like the New England weather, perhaps it's simply a matter of waiting for the coming change.

Keep up the posts.

Don