Couple months ago, I found myself trading with a disrespectful level of disinterest. Win some, lose some, ultimately go nowhere and tread water. No dedication to improving anything about my current form of (deeply-flawed) discretionary trading. I’d get bored and try to fight my way out of small losses by doubling down and trying to scalp out of it–dumb mini-martingale bullshit like that. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t but it wasn’t really costing me.

Deep down, I knew I was cooked on the inside.1if you read the Mailbag II or SMCI post, you can see I wanted to take a break but I think the momentum of a couple great results had me sticking around

I would ask myself that every single day. What am I even doing? There is no purpose, no love, and no respect for this game.

I should just stop. Quit for a bit and re-evaluate. Unfortunately, we can’t always be level-headed. I kept trading, as if to punish myself subconsciously… not really making any money but also not losing it either.

So then one week around the middle of May, all the meme stocks exploded again. For the record–I have never traded these stocks well on the whole. I think GME might be a bottom-5 all time stock for me. I won’t bore you with the bullshit behind why GME shot up, I’m sure you kept up–whether willingly or unwillingly. Personally I am sick of the whole story and whoever is involved and it would be too soon to never to have to hear about whats-his-face and all his positions ever again.

It’s a sleepy Monday and I’m just shorting GME pre-market in the high 20’s and then I get blown up as it goes parabolic early on. I am completely exposed as a fraud who has no real plan. I lose about $80,000. I ask myself why that even happened… I don’t trade like that. Must be some deeply repressed tilt that I’m holding over from 3 years ago when all that shit started. It hurts but it represents a single digit drawdown from my year-to-date gains. Maybe that’s my out. I get to stop punishing myself and it only cost me $80,000. A worse version of me could’ve added a zero to that figure. That’s the dark side of discretionary trading when you start to lose control over yourself.

I tell my wife I won’t trade tomorrow. Or the rest of the year. It’s over, it’s done. Trading sucks and I hate it. Enough with this nonsense. The negative feelings that had been simmering a month prior had now completely boiled over the pot. I’m disgusted, no way I’m trading again.

Bell rings, I’m at my screen. I’m short a few thousand shares.

A real-time hours trading day lasts 6 hours and 30 minutes. It felt like 100 hours because every single second at my screen I wanted to slit my wrists and end myself. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. PnL goes up and down and I can only numb myself to all my negative thoughts. I end the day up $50,000. Well… now I’m within a reasonable amount of breaking even. Might as well keep going I guess–GODDAMNIT.

Now it’s Wednesday and I make another $20,000. Still feel horrible about everything. Now I should definitely quit. Making back 87% of the drawdown and actually breaking even, it’s honestly a negligible difference. Just pat yourself on the back for mitigating the loss and leave.

NO. I’m so close. I have to try to turn it into green and make all this pain worth it. I’m sick in the head and can’t make up my mind. On Thursday, I start trading this FFIE. I used to have incredible results when trading stocks that go from sub $1 to $2-5 range. Maybe I can find that magic again on this little junker.

Big mistake. I lose $70,000. I’m back to being down $80,000 on the week again. I’m sure all of my readers are thinking UH OH. DANGER ZONE.

Well what happened was all the raging emotions suddenly became quiet and the next course of action became obvious.

IPhone–stock apps–swipe–DELETE.

Broker website–chat support–wire request–“all of my money.”

Are you sure Pete, we’d hate to see you go.

Yes I’m sure, give me my money you leeches.

$80,000 was my price to get out on Monday. It was my price to get out on Thursday. Worth it.

As far as my interest in blogging/writing? Right out the window. Why do I want to write about trading when I absolutely fucking hate it?

And now I’m here–one month later–in purgatory. That might be the last time I ever trade. It’s painful even writing all of this. I thought I hit my rock bottom last year. Then this year started out great (still great, all things considering) and I’m still here? It doesn’t makes sense. Trading is just depressing for me and it’s been too complicated to flesh out why exactly. Believe me, I’ve tried–there’s been four rough drafts before this. One of the challenges is that I feel my own feelings aren’t even valid. Like–things are still too good for me to be writing all this and complaining and such. That’s that annoying counterthought that I can’t quite respond to. I wonder if you’re thinking the same thing. This weak ass bum just can’t take the heat anymore. Maybe you’re correct.

How is it supposed to end?

Look, most of you reading this may not be able to relate to this yet. You’re in all likelihood, a beginning trader or a long-time marginal trader just trying to make day trading a sustainable career. You’re thinking of how to get it started, not ending it. Or if you’re actually a profitable trader, you just want to keep it going. You don’t hate it…yet.

Sometimes I think of how it is supposed to end. I think of some of the stories I heard. In Stopping Out, I wrote about Franklin Chase–an early 2000s big shot trader who took a massive drawdown, then recovered, then decided to never trade again. He didn’t feel in control of risk anymore.

The guy who told me that story, Hanzo, was also a big deal. He was the #1 trader at Heartland Securities at one point and now he’s a community college professor. The stress of constantly fading the market was just too much and he didn’t have the drive to figure out another way to trade. He does seems happy with his job now. He feels he’s truly giving back rather than just taking for himself.

Then there’s this old school guy at Trillium. I don’t know him, I just know his story. He’s one of their all-time best traders with $75 million in lifetime earnings2(who knows how real these numbers are, I just hear from friends and report back) and he’s the mentor to a highly visible and prominent ex-Trillium trader. One day he just lights $15 million on fire by getting long XIV during the 2018 VIX meltdown. Just took on a fundamentally wrong trade where he didn’t understand what he’s going on and he probably made it worse at some point by adding. Then after that, he quits. Bye bye. At least he only lost the firm’s money and presumably kept his previous fortune. Who knows if he still trades or not, or if he can ever trade the same as he did before.

Does it have to be that way? We just trade and trade and trade until an unhappy ending and then that’s it? Is it ok to just have a financial goal, meet it, retire on top, and do something else? What if I don’t have that *something else* that drives me like trading once did? Am I now just a stay-at-home dad making sandwiches and watching Netflix? Maybe that’s ok too, I don’t know.3It’s not so bad so far. There are many uncomfortable questions that I don’t have the answer to.

Anyway, that’s where I am. Not a great place in one aspect of my life that was once very important to me and not-so-important anymore. Good place in the more important ones. Best wishes to all my readers and sorry if I’m not writing that much or responding on time to e-mails or DMs–my mind is just anywhere but trading at the moment.

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14 thoughts on “How Does It End?

    1. Ah don’t feel bad for me. Life is good, this is just a weird pocket of negativity in my life that I don’t quite know how to explain at the moment.

      I was thinking about NVDA puts last week as my “redemption” trade but couldn’t pull the trigger. Felt awful about it seeing it unfold spectacularly, just another sign that I should fuck off for a long time.

      1. I was in a really poor mental state, so, I decided to spend more time reading than trading. Ordered 15-20 books. Started with O’neil, Minervini, Livermore. Finished about 5 and a half of the books, and then GME short came, I even forgot what puts I traded, think 50 or 45. Jumped right back into reading. Then GME set up again for 35 puts. Back to reading, till we got DELL, SMCI, NVDA, MU the other day. I hate reading, as I have only 1 eye, and Im a slow reader, 20-30 pages per day, or I get massive headaches. Reading during market hours keeps me away from trading non-A+ set ups.

  1. Eh, I known the feeling of losing interest and even despise trading. A once burning desire to show the world or yourself how tough the balls of steel are until… the chit hits the fan and there’s no umbrella to protect the feeble ego, which in the process prostitutes the much delicate side of your spirit. The dark side of trading rears its hard head and form there it all goes down the glorious chitter. It’s like riding a bike, you either know it or not. That’s the messed up part. Once you’re aware of the dark side psychologically speaking you get to see life from a whole different angle. What is next is an empty space of mixed feelings mostly negative, which make you question your whole being. The good part is that this rut shall pass. The bad part is that you’ll have some scars.

  2. Take a year off. Your done!!!! Burnout rate is high especially when you have been trading for so long. And you just needed that draw dawn excuse to move your ass into a break.
    I also used the draw down excuse to not only take a break but to develop a new strategy that fit my aging personality
    Good luck and happy mental break year.

  3. I’ve enjoyed your posts and have found value in all of them, so thank you for sharing that with the public. It seems like your purpose is shifting away from trading, and some times we are so used to a routine, that it takes a little wake-up call for us to realize the shift & take action on a new purpose.

    Maybe spending time with your family/kids and finding out what else motivates you is the next logical step? As cliche as it sounds, the market will always be there. That ambition to trade the markets always has the potential of coming back, but there’s no reason to force it when you’re so aware of being in the danger zone.

    No matter what – keep your head up high! You’ve accomplished things that others could only dream of, so now you can give yourself the reward of tackling something new/fresh. Live your life brother!

  4. „What if I don’t have that *something else* that drives me like trading once did? Am I now just a stay-at-home dad making sandwiches and watching Netflix? Maybe that’s ok too, I don’t know.3 There are many uncomfortable questions that I don’t have the answer to.“

    Dedicating the majority of your life to one task – i.e. trading – will limit your ability to try out many other exciting things in life.
    Once trading is gone, you have no clue what you actually like or where you could develop a trading-like drive, because you never really had the time or energy to try it. It‘s like a muscle that shrinks when you don’t use it.
    Rebuilding that muscle takes time, which makes the switch from trading to finding something else very difficult, especially since trading is such a fast-paced activity. Finding „the new trading“ will require a ton of trial & error. Been there, done that.

    And btw: an external coach is extremely helpful for all of that. I know asking for help doesn’t fit into our macho trading culture, but fuck it, that’s how it is. There are too many difficult questions to answer to do it on your own.

    If I misread or misunderstood something in your post, forget what I just wrote. Otherwise: I hope it helps.

    1. I second this.

      It’s ok for past passions to fizzle out. Trading got old for me too. Ive found different things I’ve enjoyed since then but sometimes nothing will match that same excitement and passion. Much like athletes or Olympians that spend their whole life playing a sport then move on. Youre not going to get the same high as being in the Championship games and thats something we need to adapt to.

      It takes time to find the next chapter. I’m still exploring and honing in on mine. We are constantly changing. It’s ok to take time and take space and to feel lost. That might last a month or a year or five years. My own interest in trading comes in waves but it’s never beyond a 3/10 anymore. Haven’t read a trading book in 7 years. I don’t fight it. If the passion is gone, maybe it comes back here and there but there is no forcing it.

      I’ve found a good psychologist helps one explore these feelings. But keep in mind it’s normal and ok and there’s also nothing wrong w being a dad or doing nothing at all until the fancy strikes. You’ve earned the privilege to be able to do so.

  5. Really appreciate all of your writing. Nothing else out there like yours and I’ve read everything you wrote on the entire site.

  6. Good stuff Pete! I often refreshed your website to see if there was a new post.
    Youre right, most of us are in the camp of trying to make this work. Meanwhile youre like a vet heading into retirement. And hey man, theres going to be something that grabs your interest eventually. Anyone whos been in a funk knows that the time before something does interest you is the worst. Grasping for some deeper purpose or meaning can feel like trying to get out of quicksand.
    But if you enjoy writing, write about other stuff. Im sure your readers would still tune in. Focus on family and keep doing the things you like. Having the means to do so is a blessing. Youre a lucky dude. Good luck with everything and hope you do return!

  7. 90% of the daytrading game is mental.

    That’s why the hft have an advantage. Their bots do everything the same, every day unemotionally. Mon-Fri

    Human brain can only take so much stress and it shuts down.

  8. Your dopamine/serotonin is too high/low in certain areas of your brain bruv…bring balance to the force you must.

  9. I also burnt myself out from trading since last year. I am trading for almost 10 years now then became a family man recently.

    I really don’t understand what i’m going through right now with life.

    I don’t know if this is a phase of becoming a parent while trading. or is it because i already got tired of the emotional highs and lows that trading gives us.

    But this year i switched from being a day trader to just swingin, from trading 2-5 stocks per day to taking only maybe 10 in a month.

    I also went out more, i no longer want to stay on my computer all day. I also spend more profit to myself, i was really tired of working hard and living frugally lol. i also tried other things out like fishing, camping, golf, etc.

    But to this day, i really don’t know what happened to me. But thanks to your blog man, i just discovered it days ago and was binge reading it. Something is lighting up inside me again. i hope one day i’ll get in touch with you and clock. LOL

    Thank you for the efforts you put into writing.

    May we all heal with the wounds we never knew existed

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