Happy New Year!
I took last weekend off being Christmas and all, my mind was elsewhere and I wasn’t feeling “it”. But this time Psych Saturday happens to fall right smack on January 1, 2022. First of a whole new year. And for as much as calendar times are just as arbitrary (and therefore wrong! lol) as bars on a time-based horizontal chart, the fact is that we humans place a lot of importance on the passage of time and these arbitrary “mile markers”. So, I’m going to simply embrace that and go with the (order) flow!
To start, how was your 2021? Obviously it was a bumpy year in just about every fathomable way, but specifically about your trading, how did you do? And I’m not really talking P&L although a big fat positive number is always nice. But how did you do as a trader? How did you execute? How was your discipline? Did you hold yourself accountable? Did you strictly follow your plan while allowing the flexibility needed to adjust on the fly to an ever-changing market? How were you as your General Manager? Did you keep a good eye on your trader’s drawdown levels? Did you monitor their emotional state and step in to give them a break from the screens when they needed it? Were you there for them during a particularly difficult day, week, month? I think most of us prefer to just “be the trader” rather than the GM, but the reality is we have to be both and the trader needs the GM, and the GM needs the trader, to be successful.
Personally I had an excellent 2021. Negative P&L (though not catastrophically so), but I grew by leaps & bounds as both trader and GM. I passed my first evaluation at long last (Uprofit), then promptly blew up that “funded” account. Passed a second evaluation (SpeedUpTrader) and eventually blew that one as well, though it lasted significantly longer. My ability to “sight read” the markets based on order flow has made a dramatic shift, I’m in a totally different place than I was a year ago. I still have much work to do on my execution, as well as on my ability to SOH (Sit On Hands) until the better opportunities present themselves. But just being able to look at a session DOM (Footprint) and actually understand everything that’s happening as it’s happening, is an entire universe away from where I was at the end of 2020. My understanding of some of the more esoteric and complex parts of Sierra Chart (namely Spreadsheet Trading Systems) has grown enormously, and I can generally make Sierra Chart “sit up and dance” and do anything I want now, and it’s nice to know I have a platform that can do just about anything I could ever want.
So being as it’s the new year, what would it be without some “resolutions”, right? Personally I’ve never been into the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. I find them to be fluffy, overly-ambitious, and setting people up for failure. I prefer to just look at the year stretching out ahead of me, and consider what my plan is. And also what the individual goals are along the path that is the plan. And I have a lot of exciting goals in mind.
Firstly, I’ve had a dramatic shift in my view of these evaluator companies. Thanks to the work of Lee Harris within Trading Research Group, I’ve seen first hand just how they can be leveraged in some absurdly profitable and low-stress ways, in particular using the idea of “trade copying” or “trade replication”. I have now built a trade copier of my own in Sierra Chart and am going to be embarking on my own “evaluator pillaging” campaign very soon. It requires an enormous amount of discipline, but as long as I can maintain that, the opportunity is massive. And having such a brilliant example to follow in Lee’s work, has been a huge inspiration. Until a few months ago, I had decided that these evaluators were a waste of time other than to practice and demonstrate discipline, or as a sandbox to try out certain new ideas and experiment with a little bit of real risk (the subscription and reset fees). But now I see them as an actual significant potential profit center without risking any of my own capital and without having to swing for “home run” trades. Just a handful of ticks per day can turn into quite the small fortune. I’ve even stopped trading micros in my little cash account, because I see the evaluators as the much larger opportunity.
Secondly, TRG is going through an exciting transitional phase. We have some awesome new materials about to be revealed, and we’ve been hard at work for months figuring out what they should be, and bringing them to fruition. At long last they’re just about ready for an initial launch. They aren’t yet what we ultimately envision, but they’re an awesome first step in that direction and I can’t wait for people to get their hands on them and begin giving us feedback so we can make them even better. I really believe we’ll shortly have the best, not to mention most cost-effective, order flow training available, period.
The TRG community is also continuing to evolve, and Jeff, Lee, and myself now all trade live on a rotating schedule every single week day. This has been possibly the single most significant push in my trading to date, as it’s one thing to just be alone in your room doing your thing without anyone watching over your shoulder, and quite another to be doing your trading, and narrating everything you see and think in the moment, in front of a live audience! Win or lose, it’s all there for everyone to see. My results haven’t always been great, and this is where working on my execution and my patience comes in. But regardless of P&L, I have learned something of value every single time and that’s what it’s all about. Learn, implement, assess, repeat!
Personally my overall health has been pretty good, so I aim for that to just continue. It’s so easy in particular to ruin one’s body by sitting too much, and goodness knows I sit a whole lot of every day. So that’s probably a big thing I should commit to this year – stand/move more! I even have a motorized standing desk so I have no excuse, I just need to push a button and the whole thing rises to whatever level I want. I just need to not forget to do it. In fact I’m pushing the button right now as I type this sentence! There, this is much better and my back already appreciates the change in posture.
The last month or two, I’ve been much more consistently leveraging a favorite “secret weapon” of mine – brain.fm. It’s specialized music/soundscapes to increase focus or relaxation. I’ve used it off & on for the past 6 years but they’ve added so much to it that I hadn’t noticed, so I’ve begun using it pretty much constantly now and it’s making a big difference in my productivity, and my energy levels. I take several 30 minute “power naps” throughout the day, using brain.fm to help me hit REM sleep within 5-10 minutes. I wake up feeling like I’ve had easily a 3-4 hour nap, in fact it’s a little disorienting at first because I’m always certain I’ve massively overslept (even though I set a timer so that I can’t), and that it’s many hours later. It’s like turning my 24 hour days into 30-35 hour days, I love it. Then while I’m working (as long as I’m not having to talk like on a TRG session or something), I use it in focus mode, as I’m doing right now in fact, and it gets me “in the zone” in no time. I can never say enough good about this service, was worth every penny I spent on two lifetime licenses (even though my other half never uses hers). I will most definitely continue this into 2022 and beyond.
Otherwise I just intend to continue to build the life that I want to live, as I have been for basically all of my adult life. It takes a lot of work, involves a ton of uncertainty, and requires taking risks. But it’s so worth it. Gee, sounds a whole lot like trading!
So what are *you* doing differently this year? Got any big ideas, plans or goals? Share them here, I’d love to hear what you’ve got going on.
Wishing you all the best for 2022!
Until next time, good trading!
Jonathan van Clute
Community Manager, Trading Research Group