As I am not looking to immediately jump back in and initiate new positions I’ll write a bit more about my thoughts and what motivated me to go to cash. Going to cash serves a lot of purposes. The most important one is recharging one’s batteries. The number one goal as a trader is to reach a ‘flow state of mind’ in order to be able to trade at ‘peak performance’. You can’t possibly expect to be able to trade in such a way every day, year in year out. That’s why recharging your batteries and taking breaks on a regular basis is vital.
- Money comes in bunches.
That one says it all. You can’t force trades. You can’t simply work harder in order to be ‘in sync’. Sometimes you are, sometimes you are not. You simply have to accept that as being part of the trading business. What you can do, is to closely monitor if your performance is in sync with the market’s performance. If the markets make new highs and your overall portfolio is going down something is wrong. You need to address that issue. Fast. The best way is to step aside and drastically reduce exposure and risk. That’s what I did.
- Trading should be effortless.
A true piece of wisdom. In my experience when I trade well it is like shooting fish in a barrel. Almost everything works. I don’t need to be overly patient with positions. The money comes in very fast. That’s exactly how trading should be. The exact opposite was the case during the first 2 months of this year. So I did what I had to do. I recognized the situation for what it was and admitted my efforts were not leading my portfolio anywhere. It was like folding when you are dealt a bad hand in poker. So I folded. Now I am waiting for the next hand. If it is a bad one I fold again. If a series of trades start to really go my way I push it hard and increase exposure and trade aggressively.
- When in doubt stay out.
This one is key. That’s how I interpret the adage: It doesn’t mean you don’t trust your instincts or your methodology. As a trader you should adapt to new situations. You constantly analyze the markets and your performance. Then you adjust your trading. Then you compare your expectations with the actual outcome. Then you adjust your trading. Then you repeat the process. At times things simply do not work. That’s when doubt creeps in. You know something is not ‘feeling right’. Your job is to protect your capital. Your job is not ‘to be right’. Put another way: You should be able to exit or reduce exposure without the need for explanations. The markets usually give you those explanations at some later point in time. As a trader your goal is to be able to live with and embrace uncertainty.
If something doesn’t feel right, exit. Ask questions later.