When I first starting trading over one year ago, I was convinced that I was going to become a full time trader and more specifically, a day trader. I built up this image in my head of working anywhere in the world, with my laptop and a stable Wi-Fi connection. Travelling and earning on the move, sounds perfect. This is probably something that appeals to most people and it’s definitely possible if it’s what you really want and you’re willing to put the work in.
So after one year of trading, my perception on becoming a day trader has changed drastically and I will share the three main reasons why. This article has not been produced to scare you from becoming a day trader, but rather me being honest about why I don’t seek to become one anymore.
Before reading this article, it’s important to understand that the definition of a full time day trader is very different to a full time swing trader or investor.
Knowing what type of trader I am.
For the past 14 months or so I have spent the majority of that time figuring out exactly what type of trader I am. I have been trialling a range of strategies, styles, indicators and more to find a blend of what works best for me. What I mean by this is what I understand most thoroughly, what works best for me mentally and personally and what produces the best results. My journal and my understanding tells me that I am best suited to swing trading on the higher timeframes, using basic price action analysis as you can probably tell from my charts.
In the early days, I would post many lower timeframe charts (2H, 4H etc) because I enjoyed sharing content on Twitter. Receiving feedback on my analysis and engaging with followers was all new to me and it was fun. This was an incredibly dangerous trap to fall into as it diverted my attention away from the number one goal which was to become a profitable and successful trader.
Traders often hear the question ‘what is your edge?’ and for a long time I felt like I didn’t have one. I was a basic price action trader just like everybody else but then I realised that your edge doesn’t have to be analysis-orientated. I discovered that my edge was patience.
Patience is one of my strongest assets as I am completely comfortable waiting for price to come to my levels and if they don’t, I’ll just move on to the next trade. It’s a compulsory trait for a high timeframe trader as many people lack patience meaning that they will typically make mistakes and change bias whilst a patient trader is happy sitting on their hands with a clearly defined set up and sticking to it.
Having patience and typically being a swing trader of the macro structure means I can set alerts and orders whilst working on other projects in the meantime. When I don’t have other things to work on, I have been previously been guilty of using my free time to trade more frequently on lower timeframes which has had a negative impact on my results. I have found that this can be easily avoided by distracting myself with something as simple as playing video games.
It’s a time consuming profession.
Working in a time consuming profession that you absolutely love and are completely passionate about makes it all worthwhile. You’re happy to put in the hours because you‘re driven to succeed. However, if you think you might love it, but have even the slightest bit of doubt, chances are you don’t love it as much as you first thought. I figured for myself that staring at charts for 8-14 hours a day wasn’t something that I enjoyed. Everything in moderation, right?
Besides, trading isn’t just staring at charts. It’s a very task orientated profession as your responsibility as a trader also includes executing the trades, setting alerts and orders, updating your trading journal and much more. I found that I enjoy doing all of this stuff but not multiple times per day. This is another reason why swing trading personally works for me. In some instances, I have the patience to wait weeks for a set up whilst not being in an open trade is completely fine with me.
As a person rather than a trader, I’m very focused on passive income. I like the idea of my money working for me and earning whilst I sleep. I believe passive income is easily achievable once you put in the work upfront but that’s a whole different article. My point here is, day trading is not a passive income stream, unless you use a profitable algorithm/bot.
Day trading takes up a large allocation of your time and takes even longer to master. If it is something that is truly enjoyable, then it really doesn’t matter how many hours of work you put in a day because you’ll ‘never work a day in your life’. However, for me personally it wasn’t something that I thoroughly enjoyed and it didn’t align with my long term goals.
The day trading success rate.
It’s pretty well known that only 10% of day traders are consistently profitable and therefore successful whilst the remaining 90% of traders ultimately fail (source). You’re probably thinking; work hard, learn and make sure you are in the 10%, right? I completely agree but realistically, to be successful you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. You need the drive and motivation to push yourself and better yourself everyday and without that, the chances are that by the end, you will end up with the 90%.
I have fully accepted that day trading for a full time living is not what I want to do for the rest of my life so I personally don’t have the drive to achieve this goal. Everyone’s goals will be different, I’m just saying it isn’t for me and I would rather accept that now and pursue another venture that might be something I am far more engaged in. The beauty with swing trading is that I can continue with my current trading strategy whilst also having the time to explore and focus on new things.
I can confidently say that trading is something that I will always do and it’s a great skill to have but it won’t be something that I will do intensely on a daily basis. I’ve found that I can comfortably ‘set and forget’ whilst continuing with other projects and ventures. This is just what works for me.
I have the upmost respect for the full time day traders out there. It isn’t the glamorous lifestyle that I, and many others, first envisioned and it’s important that you understand that as well.
90% of traders fail and it’s clear to see why. Trading is not easy and takes a very long time to master. The majority of the battle is you against yourself and I feel that if you are going to be a successful day trader, you have to realise this as it can be intense and emotions often run high.
If you found this article useful, any tips are much appreciated:
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Everything that I have wrote is subject to my unprofessional opinion and nothing should be considered as financial advice. This article has been wrote for entertainment purposes only.
Thanks for reading, Posty.
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