Guest Article Written By - Trader, Pete Armstrong - Twitter: @PeteArmstrong
2018 is drawing to a close although the markets show no sign of going into holiday mode until the
machines are switched off and forced to take a break for a few days.
As a trader in the southern hemisphere it’s our annual summer holiday period for at least 2 weeks.
I always use this time to reflect back on the last 12months, draw a line in the sand and consider
the new game starting in January……It can be a satisfying time or very depressing period.
A traders life is not anything close to what society deems as “normal”, and as such no one but us
traders can really relate to what we actually go through.
This isn’t a story about how lonely trading is because I’m one of the weird ones who trades best
in total isolation. It’s just a fact we can go through things that no other career can throw at you
and a lot of the time we bring it upon ourselves due to the nature of this business and how us
humans are wired……I brought it all upon myself this year. Here is a story of a period I went
It is amazing how easily you can lead yourself off course, down a path you know isn’t going to
end well, but at the time, in the moment, you honestly think you are making intelligent decisions.
The last few years have been hard in this game.
• Volatility contraction but now expanding dramatically forced me to alter my approach and
mindset towards the market (I struggled with the mindset aspect),
• Algo’s exacerbating “chop” in price action due to a number of factors made tight entries harder
than previous years,
• Politicians ramping up their desire to have public feuds,
• Geopolitical issues seem to be piling up, adding another risk to manage daily,
• Fake headlines from “Sources” that Algos react to with sudden bursts of price action that will
fade sometimes and not other times.
The list could go on, but markets are always evolving and we have to evolve with them, however I
found myself fighting these factors when in-fact I thought I was just working hard to adjust and
get on top of them.
This year I found myself so determined and focused on getting on top of this market that I worked
around the clock; sleep was optional and only when the body forced me or on weekends.
Down the Rabbit Hole I Go.
In my mind it was a case of; “Yes I know this isn’t sustainable or smart but if I can push through
this period, get on top of it, then I can rest, do all the right things and get back to a sustainable
balanced approach/lifestyle of making returns”
I would tell myself daily - “It’s just a phase the market is going through, this isn’t your first rodeo
you have been here before, you just need to grit your teeth and work through it.”
Telling myself to back off a little, ride it out with lower performance expectations whilst working
through fine tuning my approach would have been the intelligent thing, but with pressures of
performance and life etc, I was always feeling like my back was against the wall and I needed to
go harder at it not back off. Cue the Anxiety.
That last paragraph I think was the root cause of this stupid behaviour
Obviously my day to day trading thought process are extremely clouded in this exhausted state,
more errors were being made than normal, frustration builds and everything is second guessed.
The harder I tried the worse it become!
[ Side Story - I used to be a golf pro, and pros will play their best when they let themselves be free
of pressure and they believe in their ability to execute. The harder a golfer tries to “ steer” a shot
under pressure down the fairway the more they spray the ball all over the course. I was trying to
steer every trade instead of letting it just happen]
All this leads to crippling depression periods and constant anxiety.
The dark times are dark. Very Dark!
It takes rock bottom to snap me out of it.
Tired, exhausted, mentally drained, angry at myself, constantly sick, no confidence and for the
first time I truly can’t wait to step away from the markets.
I knew better, I made it all harder than it needed to be and I’m feeling to consequences of it.
I think I got stuck down the rabbit hole due to the pressures that I have on me. Some your typical
life pressure we all have, and likely some others all manifested in my head. Thats something to
explore during the time off.
When I return it will be fresh, back to basics, structure and discipline. Focus hard on not losing my
Thanks for reading this post.
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Disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only, and all the information contained within this post is not to be considered as advice or a recommendation of any kind. If you require advice or assistance please seek a licensed professional who can provide these services.
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I am a private trader and equities investor that loves the trading and investing world, following the markets and everything in between.