Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Final 2008 Post - A Night to Dance

And so it is over.

My personal 366-day inner journey to try to discover my true trading potential has finally ended, with the final tally reading +$1,635,103 and +214%. (See earlier post for today's recap.)

Tomorrow, a new day will dawn, a new year will be born, and we'll get to start over. 2009 won't care about 2008 just like today didn't care about yesterday and tomorrow won't care about today. We'll all get a do-over ... a mulligan ... another chance to wipe the slate clean and make fewer mistakes than yesteryear. At this end, I've ended this particular journey and will trade largely for enjoyment as the year begins.

Yet for one night, we'll dance. We'll freeze this ever-so-brief moment as long as we can and dance away tonight like tomorrow will never come. We'll stand in awe of the magic of a fully matured Bamboo, which will forever remain a testament to Man's ongoing battle with patience, fortitude, and endurance.

About this time last year, more than a few people thought my million dollar mission for 2008 was impossible. "Foolish", "Absurd", and "Too old to compete against lightening-fast program traders" come to mind. As the year went on, some even wanted to see me fail ... badly. Then, as the tally began to grow and initial targets surpassed, a few questioned whether the results were real, while a small minority tried to take away my spirit in various creative ways.

Then even the market seemed to get angry as it tried its darnedest to shake all of us to our very foundation in the fall. It bucked and screamed like some monster straight from hell, even trying to kill my personal spirit with a $94K flesh wound that momentarily knocked me below my target. It spit in my face. The market then tempted me to push hard in December when I was physically and emotionally spent while at the same time drastically changing its own rhythm to try to trip me up. It was trying to put me on tilt to give up the hard-earned gains. Another spit. It was getting intensely personal.

Yet I owe all of them my deepest thanks. For they simply strengthened my resolve, which when combined with the tremendous outpouring of blog support over the last six months, simply made losing a non-option. And while the market can't ever truly be defeated, like Rocky in his final movie, I somehow managed to stand toe to toe with the Champ until the final bell. I'm leaving the ring standing, thanks in part to my decision to slow down in mid-December, which in hindsight was 100% correct.

And I had help. Big help. For I've seen and intensely felt God's hand this year ... both during the good times and the struggles. For those turned off by talk of faith or religion, all I can say is that this 2008 story simply wouldn't be complete without the full and accurate picture. I doubt a lot of things in life. I don't doubt this.

Regardless of what happens in 2009 and beyond, no one will ever be able to take 2008 away from me. Ever. Like other far more important life milestones, the year will find its own place in a corner of my heart that I'll be able to tap whenever I question my ability to conquer a challenge in front of me. The funds will be well-protected and socked away, and a new game -- in whatever form it takes -- will begin.

And if you haven't figured it out by now, this blog goes far beyond my trading race. It's about life's race. Trading is a game ... nothing more. It pales in comparison to life's true priorities, and simply provides us with the analogy of all analogies, and parable of all parables. It provides us with a unique practice field on which we can learn and then try to apply the principles to life. The better we trade, the better we live, and the better we live, the better we seem to trade. For me, the $1.6M score will mean nothing unless I can now apply the learned principles going forward, especially to life.

If you're reading this, then you're still breathing and I congratulate you. I don't have to tell you that life is sometimes hard. 2008 has punched many in the gut, and a lot of blood has been spilled in the form of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and industry corruption at every turn. My punches just happen to come in earlier years, and only infrequently in 2008 as fully chronicled for all to see in this deeply personal diary.

Tonight, we all dance. In part for the joy of personal victory, but for all, the survival of 2008 and the possibilities of 2009. And at midnight tonight, I'll drink a toast to all who have joined me on this year's journey -- even if you're simply a silent onlooker or one of the small minority who may have initially questioned my motives and integrity -- and to all who made it through the year, even if kicking and screaming or temporarily wounded. You made it. And you're a year smarter.

I encourage you to consider printing this and putting it someplace safe that you can reference if you ever get down, or if someone ever tells you "you can't". Because they're dead wrong. If you're breathing, you can and you will. Regardless of what the pundits say or how much the temporary pain may sting, don't ever let anyone take away your spirit and joy for life. Who knows, 2009 may very well be your personal Bamboo year. And if you still need a hand, contact me.

So long 2008. Welcome 2009.

Happy New Year.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and find it kind of cool. Anyway, how many points did you avg per day in '08. Are those stats posted anywhere? GL in '09.

Don Miller said...

No idea Anon ... I'm a daily bottom line kind of guy, trading with various sizes, scratching, re-entering, etc., which would render that sort of stat fairly meaningless. I care about net income period.

I did post some '08 stats a few days ago (see blog index), but I don't look at much more than that.

The scorecard chart to the left would give you a good feel for overall performance by day though.

Best wishes for 2009.


Ziad said...

Happy New Year's Don. It's been a fun ride, and here's to a great and enjoyable 2009....

E-Mini Player said...

Don, I've read and enjoyed every single post on your blog! Your blog inspired me to start my own blog/trading diary which does make one just a little more accountable. Thanks for all your insight in 2008 and I look forward to your posts in 2009! Have a safe and happy new year, and enjoy this year's gains in good health.

Anonymous said...


Congratulations on the completion of your amazing race! Your post--and your race--remind me of Brett Steenbarger's inspirational words in "The Psychology of Trading": "Trading is a microcosm of life.... In mastering the markets, you can further yourself as a human being; and in developing yourself as a person, you can enhance your trading success. Once you are able to extract the information contained within your emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns, you will be better equipped to identify and to exploit the patterns that appear in the financial markets--and vice versa." I think there are many traders who have been successful in other fields but have been attracted to trading because it forces us to confront the ultimate challenge: the conquest of the uncontrolled self. It brings us face to face with all those unruly emotions and tendencies we'd rather just ignore but no longer can when their impact stares at us from the bottom line. For those of us who haven't had to face combat it's about the closest we can come to living out those ancient epic quests where the heroes must face their fears and learn the truth about themselves to complete their appointed missions. When my trading bamboo finally sprouts it would be nice if it's got 1.6 million dollars hanging off it. But it would be even better to find that I've developed the kind of character traits you've displayed this year.

God Bless in the New Year,


nocved said...

Hi Don

I've read,learned and enjoyed your posts since you began keeping your journal. I too am a man of faith and your 2008 journey is truly inspirational. All I can say is Bravo!

All the Best to you and your family,


Marv said...

Mr Miller

I found your blog only a short time ago, and being a relative new trader all I can say is – WOW, and a Great Big Congratulations Sir – not for the earnings, but for the insight, and light you have shown us

I for one will persevere even more knowing you made it, and in time so will I Sir

I wish you and your family a very Happy and Prosperous New Year


trader said...

Happy new year!

Don Miller said...

Thanks all :-). Best wishes for a great 2009.

E said...

If we are going to improve ourselves, I have found that we need to seek out Voices of value; they are not usually found in the everyday noise of life.

Surely Don's column and success story is right up there as one of the year's best examples of the indomitable spirit and a true voice of value.

I join the others in a standing ovation for Don's amazing accomplishment and for his authentic, humble personality; but most of all, for his unselfish service to others.

Thanks, Don.

Best wishes to Don and all you fellow traders who aspire to find purpose and meaning through our trading business and other chosen endeavors.

Make 2009 a great year.

steve said...

What an unreal year! Congrats! As others have said, your story has been great to follow simply to show that others can do this. Keep posting! We'll probably get something out of your posts even if they are about mowing your lawn.

Anonymous said...

Hi Don
I do enjoy your blog but wonder why you are so very selective in which comments you publish and which you omit. Those of us who have followed your blog each day for months are loyal fans so if we suggest or say something you dont really like, provided its relivent to your post and might be of interest to other readers and not offensive - PUBLISH IT! Otherwise the blog will become a selfish ego trip for a chap called Don Miller, which it currently is not. And thats one of the reasons why you have been as popular as you have been. All the best for 2009.

Don Miller said...

Anon -

I published every single post submitted in 2008 except for those submitters who personally asked in their comments to remain private, one from someone hyping a service, and I believe one from an Anonymous source (possibly yours) when I made an interim decision in December to not post Anonymous comments that I viewed as unprofessional, but whose comment reference I alluded to in the subsequent general post. If there's another one, I don't remember it.

As I enter 2009, I'm still on the fence when it comes to accepting comments from unregistered readers, as many bloggers have done for security purposes, and while I've allowed it for now, that may likely change.

Included in the hundreds of 2008 posts are several onlooker comments that have disagreed with my views (e.g. vendor services not credible or that don't promote trader self-sufficiency), which I published as I did those agreeing with me.

As far as suggesting this blog is an ego trip, all I can say is that I encourage any onlooker thinking such to go back and read each and every single diary entry which includes personal documentation of losses, bonehead moves, periods of subpar performance, the cornerstone post (click on the top "performance" drawdown chart on the left), the recent TradingMarkets interview, the City Slickers reference, and my repeated mention that once any trader starts to have an ego, the market will slap them hard as it's a very self-policing policy.

There's no doubt there are a few intertwined motivational "pat on the back" references in this personal journal, such as the final 2008 post where I finally allowed myself to celebrate for a day -- which I've of course done in personal offline diaries in the past that only I view.

If I sound harsh, I apologize ... yet I will adamantly respond to any criticism that suggests I'm breaching one of my core life principles of integrity.

Having said all that, I of course continue to reserve the right not to publish comments that I view as unprofessional or unproductive to the true intent of this journal.

Best wishes for 2009.


RexVulgaris said...

Congrats Don,

Have found the blog to be of great interest and value.

I am always startled how similar our perfomrance/ strengths and weaknesses even through slightly diff methods... I larfed when i saw your Monday performance weakness stat. [Mondays partic in December have ben a pita here]

My $ returns are in a similar area to you, my consistency a little better than you.. but my % returns way way underperfom you.

I have consistently failed to trade appropriate size for my account size/ risk profile... was kinda hoping to learn from you as you atempted to match this years % return from your current pot.

Guess that aint in your plans currently, do you have any thought on the subject?


Don Miller said...

Hey Rex -

I'm typically cautious when it comes to benchmarking against others as we all have different goals.

For example, I tend to set different goals each year depending on what I'm trying to accomplish. So for 2008, given my goal and general starting account balance, both net income and rate of return were relevant for me -- as well as comparisons to published industry benchmarks. Call it a personal simulation of how I'd stack up against a managed fund, except of course it was real.

But it was a one-year personal exercise. Most times, I really don't care about ROR (for example, if I'm trading simply for some extra cash) and only care about bottom line income. So it depends on my goal.

In general, and all things being equal, I'd personally expect to earn less ROR each year assuming I keep the balance invested in the same accout, but simply choose to reduce risk exposure by keeping trading sizes current as the balance grows.

I'm still toying with how I want to approach 2009, but you're correct in that I don't initially intend on risking the increased capital with a proportionate increase in size. Simply put, I don't need to.

Different strokes for different folks as always.


Unknown said...

Amazing how a person can stumble across a website, not know anything about this person's blog and read the information you have posted. I have felt down and discouraged in the past few weeks and knowing "the truth" it's still very easy for the devil to get a foot hold in my mind and warp my thought process and my ambitions. I don't have a lot, but I've earned everything I have and by the grace of God he's allowed me to continue by not missing a meal for either me or my family, not missing a house note or most importantly not ever missing my sons's ever important football game. I honestly believe God brought me to this blog tonight to read the message you posted in regards to not giving up, because I've felt real close lately and once again God has stepped in and slapped me in the face with words that I received from your blog. Thank you Mr. Miller for all you do and I don't even know who you are!

Don Miller said...

John -

No need to thank me ... just direct it Upstairs :-).

Be strong and stay well.