Friday, December 26, 2008

2009 - Year of the $1.00 Dollar Goal

What Now?

Yup, that's the question heading into 2009.

As many know, this blog was a personal experiment. An experiment to determine what the impact of using a detailed trading journal -- a public version open to those who stumbled across it and complete with real "chip gain" commentary -- might have on this trader's results. An experiment that took on interesting characteristics as the market decided to take the industry on a wild ride never before seen in the world's history, as I tried my best to document my personal struggle to keep up with it. An experiment that evolved into a unique dialogue as the numbers of those watching grew daily.

In five days, the 2008 journey and experiment will be over. Based on both personal results and onlooker feedback, the experiment was a success. Which brings us to 2009.

As I was writing yesterday's post about trading income simply buying "time", it dawned on me that I should take advantage of some of that "time" before the number of gray hairs begin to outweigh the brown. So I'm going to take a different journey in 2009 ... one that seeks to increase the "fun" factor. (OK, yes trading to me is fun ... but we're talking about a different kind of fun.)

Said another way, if 2008 was the year of pressing myself harder than I ever had, 2009 will be the year of getting 8 hours of sleep a night, trading far less frequently, and spending more time with my wife and non-market priorities. There will be no pressure, no daily reference to chip gain or loss (although the blog itself will continue for now), and I'll actually even spend a portion of any trading profits realized in 2009. (If you're interested, I've socked the '08 funds away for my kids' college and personal retirement funding, and have spent zero.) And if I end the year with $1.00 in profits (that's one dollar, as was the infamous bet in Trading Places), the year will have been a tremendous success so long as I met my enjoyment goals.

As an aside, this may actually be good news for some vendors that would like me to simply go away, as the last thing they want to hear is public babbling about self-sufficiency during a time when many of their subscription-based businesses have been shattered and are under increased scrutiny. Although it's somewhat ironic that a simple personal trading diary would touch off such emotion. Clearly though, the industry is watching.

Yet as I've stated before and to set the record straight once and for all, I think trading teachers and resources who are honorable and promote self-sufficiency serve a very useful and needed role in this industry ... and frankly, their numbers are sorely lacking.

The best analogy I can think of is when I used to seek out chiropractors for a lower back problem. Some had credentials and ethics ... most didn't. Many who I stumbled across wanted me to see them a few times weekly for an adjustment. Then I found one who simply showed me how to realign my pelvis using pillows and also provided a strengthening exercise guide. I spent a lot of $$ and incurred a lot of frustration before finding that doc who gave me the needed insight and push ... but then who backed off and told me I really didn't need him!

I'll be interested in how the change alters my views on trading during the new year ... if at all. For example, I may find the competitive drive is mandatory for me to do well. I may also find taking it easier does even better (highly doubtful though). On the other hand, I may find I instead want to simply move on to another life challenge (I haven't completely ruled out attending the 2009 World Series of Poker).

I actually thought briefly about fully retiring from competitive trading. Why consider going out near the top of one's game? Perhaps it's some boredom after accomplishment of one's goals. Many far better than me in their own fields have done it, including Annika Sorenstam, Justine Henin, Barry Sanders, Ken Dryden, Sandy Koufax, Bjorn Borg, and Michael Jordan (especially when he first "retired" in '93 when he was only 30) to name just a few.

Yea, I know the physical demands of athletes are different and lead to shorter careers vs. traders who could sit in front of a terminal into their 60s and beyond. Yet the mental demands are no different, and perhaps even more intensive given there's really no trading "off-season". After all, how many 250+ game seasons are there in professional sports?

And so next week I'll begin 2009.

We'll go from the year of the $1 Million goal to the year of the $1 Dollar goal.

Regardless of what happens, it should be "fun".


Big Sal said...

Hello Don,

I am one of your many silent but most appreciative readers. I enjoy and have benefited immensely from this blog but as of yet made no comments. I would be most interested in what investment vehicle you have used to sock away funds for your children's education as well as your retirement. Looks like the safest investment this year has been your trading account!! Thank-you again for so generously sharing this last six months with us.

Sincerely, Sal

Don Miller said...

Hi Sal and thanks.

That's a helluva question that I've been asking myself. Right now, the funds are still in the trading account which is well-protected by customer fund segregation regulatory rules that FCMs have to follow.

The main question is how can I maximize a safe earnings return while still using some of it as trading collateral.

I've been talking to Pat at MF Global about choices, but don't yet have an answer.