Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Notes - At Peace

3:30pm First, a heads up that this is likely my most emotional journal entry since the final 2008 "A Night to Dance" post, as I felt a magical kind of release as I finished writing this, which will hopefully become self-evident by the time you reach the end of the post.

Well, I think I'm finally at peace with my recent results, as when I look back at May and June, I was very often a "part-time" trader out of both choice and circumstance (at least compared to 2008), and part-time trading = part-time results ... especially when trying to improperly over-compensate. For the records will show that at times I had very solid trading results ... offset by some simply attrocious sequences that don't belong within 100 miles of me.

I also feel I'm finally at peace with taking the concept of the continuing "race" and "Back-to-Back" $1M goal down a few notches -- at least psychologically -- for as Mark so aptly put it in yesterday's comments, "you sound a little burned out to me", which has probably been true since last fall, yet only finally showed in results in the 17th and 18th month of my self-resurrected journey as I began trading like a little league rookie by showing up late for games, and then swinging at too many pitches outside the strike zone. Perhaps I was a bit premature in eliminating the daily scorecard!

So today it was back to tight, solid, conservative play on a very light volume market day where I ended the week calmly on a positive note taking some nuggets out of the classic oscillation morning after a trend day, although I kept sizes smaller than normal so as simply to establish some rhythm.

I also know this. I can't approach this business or trade any worse than I've done in May or June. And somehow, I'm still standing with slightly more capital than I had at the end of April, and now it looks like even June might pay for a ham sandwich. Frankly, it's a minor miracle and I guess it says something about some sort of inner circuit breaker that's kept me from slipping beyond reach. And just think what it will look like with my head screwed on straight.


And so here we are, almost a full year since this journal was made open to the public, and 18 months since this 48-year old got the crazy idea to give this industry a very public run for the record books -- ironically timed in part with the most violent market in history -- until life got in the way this year.

Please understand that despite my highly visible industry profile, my pursuit was never intended to prove anything to anyone ... except to myself. And I've done just that. I know with 100% certainty what I can take out of the markets, and what it takes to do it. The only question is how much time and effort do I want to devote to it, because the effort and reward will always be permanently linked. 2008 and 2009 to date have taught us that in spades.

Which brings me to a special note to onlookers considering pursuing this business:

Yes, Virginia, you can make money trading ... big money ... and in any market. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. Yet here's the qualifier: It comes with pain, sacrifice, and dedication as fully chronicled over the past year in this public sharing of a private diary for all to see. Sacrifice that most won't or can't make, or as this year has proven to me, simply isn't sustainable on a 24x7x52 manner for an infinite period of time without time for rest and renewal (which I suck at). btw, please keep in mind that like many of you, I also have a family and another non-market business that require attention ... so it's been one helluva balancing act.

I can't express the above words strongly enough. The failure rate of prospective traders -- and even some experienced traders -- is incredibly high. Then again, the failure rate of all business start-ups is high.

It's simply my hope of hopes that anyone considering pursuing this business will stumble across these virtual pages of the last twelve months, and if it helps just one person truly understand "what it takes", it will have been worth every ounce of energy poured into it.

Yet it can be done, and I can give you over 2 Million pieces of evidence.

Events of the last few days, with the passing of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson have been a wake-up call for many of us, reminding us in a very public way that life is precious and can be taken away at any time. And the last thing I want on my tombstone, is "He was one helluva trader ... dead at 48 with a bad back and a full position still on".

And so it's another time for reflection, renewal, and life rebalancing similar to the the end of last year. More on that later.

In the meantime, I'd like to personally thank all who have commented and supported me -- and one another -- in this virtual trading place over the last twelve months. For in less than one short year, it's become clear that there's a place for this sort of thing. A place without hype, ego, advertising, selling, bad-mouthing, etc. A place where we can share inner feelings in this close-knit, little-known-in-the-outside-world profession without recourse. A place where old relationships were renewed and new ones begun.

I'm hungry.

Let's party.

Click Here for Cookout Details (RSVPs Required)


Ric said...


I'm glad you've made peace with yourself. Many times, we can be our own worst critic.

Your journal is an inspirational tool for me, as it is for many other traders. Thank-you.

Wish I could attend the cookout tomorrow....oh well, maybe next year. I hope the gathering is a lot of fun and that you are blessed with nice weather.

All the best,

E-Mini Player said...

I've certainly enjoyed and learned from your journey, so thanks for sharing! Enjoy the weekend and cookout Don. Really wish I could have made it. I hope there will be another one in the future :)

steve said...

Great post Don, and I love that line; Linda has it in her book and I try to look at it once a week! It really is good encouragement in light of the barriers. Hope the BBQ goes well.

roger Newsome said...

What an amazing blog you have and agian thanks for sharing it with us.

Just a little inspiration for you when trading is not going like you plan. I know for me that I get so caught up into trading and results, that I forget what life is all about and in the end like you said...who cares if I was a helluva trader (Although I badly want to be great at trading and I think it glorifies God greatly when we work hard and use the talents like you have done with this blog and your trading skills.

Agian thanks for the blog it has encouraged me greatly and help me realize how much work it's going to take in order to become good/great at trading.

(the video isn't a knock on success(just the prosperity gospel-which isnt the gospel) but just a reminder that what are real purpose/pursuit is in life and it helps to know this and takes some of the pressure off of trading

TheRumpledOne said...

It's interesting that you posted about outliers a couple of days ago as I have just finished reading "FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS". This book added the last piece to my trading puzzle.

What can you do as a trader?

Let's see, you can determine when you enter a trade and what direction. And you do realize the reason you enter a trade has NO EFFECT on the outcome of the trade, right?

You can predetermine how much you are will to lose (risk) per trade. RISK = STOP LOSS * POSITION SIZE.

And you can decide when to stop trading for the session.

That's all you can do.

The only way we can expect to win the trading game is to have a method that gives us a positive expectancy and to execute that method flawlessly.

Being in the game allows us to benefit from the outliers. Just catching one a day is all it takes.

Hope you have a great party. Perhaps you can make a video.

Unknown said...


Thanks for sharing your heart with all of us. I have been a regular reader of this blog for the past couple of months. It has been an encouragement to me.

Today's post just re-confirms the tremendous effort needed in order to "make it". I picked up this quote from one of my customers -

"Success does not come to those who don't fail ... but to those who don't quit."

I want to "make it" (as many others here do too). We may need to adjust our goals or refine our methods, but we cannot quit. We must keep on keeping on. Your blog has been an inspiration and an encouragement.

I hope and trust that your health issues will come to a satisfactory resolution.

Wish I could be there tomorrow. Hopefully next time.

All the best,

James Edwards-Marche said...

I like the picture from the "shawshank redemption"!

Given enough pressure and time, anything is possible ;)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your heart and soul. May God bless you and use you as a blessing for others.

I'm sorry that I won't be able to make the Cook-out. However, Lord willing, if you plan to do it again next year, I'm planning on personally meeting you and thanking you for the inspiration to join in the journey of striving to become and remain a successful trader.


Trader Kevin said...

Don, sorry I can't make the cookout, but my wife's family reunion takes precedent. Maybe some year. Have a fabulous weekend!

E said...

Great post; now I know I don't need to call your wife and ask if it's safe to come.

Peace, bringing my stop loss along... (umbrella).

"Do or do not, there is no try" - Jedi Master Yoda

"I'll be there."

Don Miller said...

Thanks all ... and yes, that Shawshank movie and photo is a classic.

Time and pressure indeed.


James Stollenwerck said...


Ok, Ok, Ok.......

Take some of that $$$ and get one of these. They're supposed to be pretty good.

Don Miller said...

James -

Bamboo bicycles???

I love it.


RpD said...


I read your blog everyday (but hardly comment)at the end of the trading day, thank you for all your insights, emotions and openess.

"It's simply my hope of hopes that anyone considering pursuing this business will stumble across these virtual pages of the last twelve months, and if it helps just one person truly understand "what it takes", it will have been worth every ounce of energy poured into it."

It has for me, I don't read anything remotely close to this type of substance and honesty.

In my household everyone knows you as "The Don".

I'm orginally from MA (family still is) but now live in NC and hope that you'll do something next year as well, so I can attend.

Thanks for all your effort. I'm very much like you (I think) and it helps me everyday to feel connected to people who aspire the same way I do. As I don't often encounter them in the physical world.

Wish I was there today, but June was a tough month for me as well, thus no T&E expenses allowed this month for this business owner.


TST said...

quote: "He was one helluva trader ... dead at 48 with a bad back and a full position still on".

As a wannabe trader, sometimes I have a dream about this.."dead with full position still on "...made me wonder if i need to auto-program my trades later :-). Nice post Don.

Trader Kevin said...

"He was one helluva trader...dead at 48 with a bad back and a full position still on."

My wife has an "In the event of my death or incapacitaton" email in her in-box. It has the login ID, password, and a PDF copy of the "secret agent card" to access my trading account.

She has instructions to give this information to one of my buddies, who will check the account and liquidate any open positions.