Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday Notes - A Difficult Dilemma

6:00pm I'll be frank as always ... I'm not pleased at all with my trading today. And let me say up front that I'm sure this post may sound like a martyr to newer onlookers. Just please keep in mind this diary will always reflect how this trader is currently feeling and gives me the right to vent to myself.

As for today, today's trade was a prime example of the daily +$12K tally not reflecting how I traded, and meaning absolutely nothing over the long run except in aggregation when the countdown clock to the left ticks to zero. In my view, I flat out sucked at times.

The two areas I'm most pi$$ed about today are (1) my abysmal trading prior to the U.S. Open and between noon and 12:30pm ET where I broke even during similar textbook sequences where I should have cleaned up, and (2) my general size management where I should have been far heavier on this classic ... and I mean classic day after trend day. And for the first time in many, many months, I had to walk away from my PC to clear my head for fear of letting my emotions get the best of me, and didn't trade after 2pm.

Let's see ... overnight Globex oscillations with resistance at Monday's 30-min trend line: Check. Globex oscillations in lock step with Europe's gap and trap: Check. Early ES oscillations upon the U.S. Open: Check. Post-trend day strong midday bounce off the low: Check. All expected and fully anticipated. Yet my size management ... especially adding upon confirmation of the 1-minute turns on this classic oscillation day ... was terrible, and I don't recall ever having more than 30 contracts on.

So forget today's +$12K take. Forget the $1 Million early '09 pace. Forget the 42/43 days profitable. The 2009 drive still simply isn't there and I'm still sleepwalking through days. Today I was dealt Aces and didn't bet them as I should have. And yes, this is a continuing hurdle that I've referenced time and time again thus far in the '09 journey ... one that I must face head on and put behind me. And while I fully realize I said a while ago I'd increase size to snap me into caring again, that obviously hasn't happened, as something inside me continues to scream at me, "don't change what ain't broken".

And so I continue to face one helluva personal dilemma: Simply keep on keeping on and be satisfied with the status quo, or somehow find a way to more fully take advantage of opportunities presented. Yea, I know, some are saying they wish they had a similar problem. Yet for me, finding the answer is starting to eat me up.

Someone asked me via comments the other day why I keep looking back at the 2008 moonshot, when for years I've constantly preached only looking ahead. It was a great question, and here was my response:

One other comment re: '08 in that I think it's human nature to internally benchmark oneself to past performances once you know your potential and capability, and perhaps that's sitting in the back of my mind as I harshly critique my early-2009 performance and lack of drive.

In fact, I've thought long and hard about looking back at the detail of days from last fall to perhaps find a clue as to what I'm not doing now that I did then. And yes, it would go against my grain of not usually looking back, which is one reason I've been reluctant to do so.

Yet just maybe it might help provide a missing clue in order to correct something that's not there right now and allow me to move ahead.

I'm not sure.

And as of today, I'm still "not sure". All I know is last year, I had 26 days over +$20K, including 7 over +$40K. This year -- despite a daily win/loss ratio that's off the charts -- I've had zero. And today should have easily been one of those days. Yet the brakes remain somewhat locked.

I'm sure some won't understand today's post ... which frankly if I were new to this diary, I'd say was full of B.S. Although those who have walked with me on this journey should fully understand. All I can say is that I'm constantly searching to execute to my fullest potential, and today wasn't it. Nor have the last three months. And why do the brakes remain slightly locked? Is it some kind of helpful protective force that I don't understand? And if so, is it supposed to be telling me something??

As always, these questions are rhetorical and I'm not looking for tips or answers ... for as anything with trading, the solution has to come from within.

And there are people across the ocean literally getting their heads cut off Don, so let's keep things in perspective.


momo said...

Hey Don, although you and I have different trading styles, I've noticed how your narrative often reflects my own day's experience. I made more money today than yesterday, except I didn't like the way I got there, letting myself get caught out early putting a nasty dent in my equity curve. I recovered and ended the day on the high but still, somehow not happy about the risk I took. My point is, I totally relate to you saying it doesn't matter how much money you made today. There are larger issues specific to each one of us that go way beyond profitability that can cause amnesia.

Steve0617 said...


Could you accept the premise that even though it's early in the year, you are burned out from the efforts made last year?

You went full bore all year, including a VIX that exceeded 90, and never once stopped for a real break. Perhaps your mind is simply fighting the continued pressing on at the level that produced your 08 returns. Your own graphs and beliefs show you trade best when you produce artificial failure.

Maybe you need three (?) months off and totally away from the market to simply reset yourself.

Could that a possibility? I fully accept your logical side might not hear of it, but perhaps your soul (for lack of a better word) needs a break.

Maybe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you other than the tank was never properly refilled? Even NASCAR gets two full months off and they have the shortest off season of them all.

Severino said...

Hello Don,

I hesitated to post this as I am sure many others are doing right now. However, sometimes answers come in silence and other times talking shop.

I know you do not use any type of grids, but are you aware during the day of
Fibonacci ratios. For example consciously knowing that you are at a 38.2 or 61.8% retracement? (You do look Italian)

The reason I ask is because I know you favor 1st pullback in a trend. Also knowing that if it goes much past 61.8% the normal pullback traders will bail, etc.

You Rock,


Ps Lol. The post 12:00 first pullback after trend change was about 38.2%

heywally said...

It might have been pretty textbook but the Treasury/Fed twins were being interrogated all day and the market is "on the cliff" - those things affected what I did, though you may not have been looking at that stuff (maybe I shouldn't have been). Given the market extremes, maybe that is affecting your position sizing?

Still, trade ya' results today. The good teams find a way to win even when they're off.

estrader said...


If your goal is $1mill/year that relates to $4k/day mon-fri. So do you strive to make over 4k/day to buy time incase of a draw down? which could be related to a good insurance management plan. Im trying to dip into & experiment after hours trading, what specific hours do you look at & how do you relate to them as reference. You mention "Globex oscillations in lock step with Europe's gap and trap" What exactly do you mean by this?

Don Miller said...

Sev -

Thanks, but my challange is 100% between the ears. I have no interest or need to change how I read the tape, as that has never been an issue.


Don Miller said...

es - The answer has to come from within, and no I'd never erronously target an average daily profit amount as I've stated in the past ... it's simply the by-product of performance.

Don Miller said...

Moritz - Nice comeback. I often trade my best when the day starts poorly.

SHW - Good stuff for me to think about.

Don Miller said...

heywally -

I wasn't even aware ... and didn't see any price action today that was anything other than a classic post-trend day oscillating market.


Severino said...


I defiantly need to work on clarifying myself. The hesitation I was referring to was if we should give you a break tonight. The talk about Fibonacci was just a curiosity not a suggestion.

I would like to think I am smart enough not to give advise to someone that did not ask for it.



Charles said...

@SHW, what an interesting comment.

OK Don, so maybe you need a little "external pressure", until your internal fires ignite...

We(your readers) expect SO MUCH MORE OUT OF YOU THAN THIS -- GET IT TOGETHER MAN! DO NOT let us down Don.

...just tryin' to help ;-)


Proverbs3six said...

Thanks for your honesty. There are a number of individuals (myself included) who sincerely appreciate the time and thought you put into your posts and your website. You have been and continue to be a mentor to many. The monetary goals you have set for yourself have proven to be achievable, and that in itself is an incredible inspiration to countless traders. The setting of goals is fundamental to attaining them; without them it’s like running a race without knowing where the finish line is (or worse, IF there is a finish line). It is because of individuals like you that I have been able to personally set clear and definable goals. These goals serve to fuel my passion for trading. I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be next to impossible for me to garner the enthusiasm needed to be successful in this line of work if I didn’t have goals, particularly those that enable me to bless others. Again, thank you for your inspiration, your candor, and for sharing frustration that all of us at one time or another have experienced.

E said...


Self-image psychology has been around for awhile; that being said, it is still an important component of the "culture" of success or failure in my opinion.

The biggies like Napolean Hill, T Harv Eker, and Maxwell Maltz all suggest that our limitations are
(as you have said) "between our ears."

You evidently still see yourself "only" capable of making "x".

If your edge is tape reading (it is), then perhaps reviewing Ryan Jones position sizing techniques may be helpful.

You won't achieve it in the real world until you see it in your virtual world.

Keep stretching.

ps. I believe in "positive discontent". If we are not grateful for what we have already received, a higher power may decide that we have enough already...tricky indeed finding the right balance with our desires.

Unknown said...

As Tony Montana said in that great scene in Scarface: IS THIS WHATS ITS ALL ABOUT?

Waiting, watching, passing, trying, getting faked out, losing, FRUSTRATED, and finally winning…

Yes, I believe so…

Shuffle up and DEAL Don !!

RexVulgaris said...

Im tradin similar size and returning 5-12K most days.. Losing days are as rare as rocking horse poo.. but I have only had 1 day > 20k in the last year and it is always a source of great frustration basis the stuff I have.

My entries are WORLD Class, but my trade management is cattle class.

IF you are in the same boat as me then currently you are taking partials well [which should protect the trade and give room to work the remainder]..but cutting the rest way too soon.

Its an emotional blockage for me and I may try and go back to EMDR to remedy as this has helped before

Still, there are worse situations to be in and I wouldnt be too harsh on yourself


MACDOW said...

Hi Don
You said "The two areas I'm most pi$$ed about today are (1) my abysmal trading prior to the U.S. Open"

My question is this. When do you find the pre market ready to trade? I am interested in how many hours before open you seriously look to trade.


Don Miller said...

Hi Rex -

VERY, VERY similar, and I'm again thinking of firing my "exit trader". [My "entry trader" is doing pretty well.]

Macdow -

This year, I've pretty much been waking up whenever my body tells me to, which is usually 6-7am ET, which is a difference from last year when I was often up at 3-4am to trade Europe.


FX said...

I started to follow your blog this year so I'm new. My impression is that difference between '08. and this year is in the fact that you had real goal that was basis of your motivation. You accomplished that goal and now you are trying to extend it. If the goal is over that "super trading" that accomplished it is over also. So you don't have that component any more in your toolbox. Power of goal oriented activity is big.

You got to reformulate what are you looking from trading now and adjust your expectation based on that. You can have another goal, but it got to be real one not similar to last years. Or just some other plan that you are fine with. Trading like last year is maybe only possible when you want something intangible like you did before. Maybe it's just time for daily grind and finishing in the money, not winning the tournament.

Don Miller said...

Hi FX -

Not a bad assessment, which reflects the mindset that I essentially entered 2009 with, and was why I chose not to "raise the bar" for this year.

Like everything I suppose, time should provide the answer. In the meantime, for now I'm just going to keep on keeping on.

Good stuff all.


Severino said...

Tax man back on TV.


Rsforex13 said...

I know the feeling of making profits but still not happy about how you get them.

A good day in terms of €'s for me doesn't tell for me personnally the whole story.

I miss a lotts of profits, in not taking a well planned trade that fits my rules, because i have already another trade or this week is was on Tuesday very nervous although there was no reason for it. I was up, followed my tradingplan but not geing able to pull the trigger resulted this week in missing 3 great trades.