An NYSE Scalper's Tale - A Trader's Diary

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Mind Filled With Crap

Gross: -$51.74
Net: -$134.12
Trades: 76

Stocks Traded Today (net profit/loss):
The Kroger Co. (KR): +$105.55
ConocoPhillips (COP): +$84.33
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT): +$41.61
Wyeth (WYE): +$17.09
Citigroup Inc. (C): -$74.66
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co (GT): -$95.64
The Home Depot Inc. (HD): -$212.39

This morning I came in with the same mentality I had trade with caution and to trade with smaller share size for one more day and to try to end another day on the positive side.

I was hoping that if I could successfully do that today, then tomorrow I'd step it up a little and I'd keep stepping it up until I could get back to the way things were before this trading funk started.

The morning was going as planned and I had booked a couple of bills before lunch.

But then the afternoon was just littered with one bad trade after another and I basically lost all of my morning gains and then some. Most of the trades occurred in the afternoon and I jumped from one losing position to another.

I found it strange that coming into the afternoon, I KNEW the afternoon would be rather dull ahead of the FOMC meeting tomorrow....I KNEW I would have to be careful to preserve my gains....and I KNEW that the markets were sideways and I KNEW the stocks I was watching were chopping around, yet I STILL went ahead and traded anyways.


I believe it's because of all the crap that's going on in my mind when the markets are sideways. All the crap thoughts, all the crap ideas, and all the crap questions that keep popping up.

Most mornings I don't have this problem mainly because I'm wide awake and alert and usually there's action in the morning so my focus is usually at it's peak.

But when things start moving sideways and I have to sit and wait for the opportunities, that's when my mind begins to wander.

If one were to record what was going on in my head during this afternoon's lull, it'd go something like this:

How great would it be if I were this or that trader making all that money....I really have to get my act together and try to string together a few good days....I've been at this a long time now and my struggles seem to continue....I wonder how so-and-so trader would handle my situation....I wonder how good it would be to be trading on my own....

The problem with my mind wandering around like that in the afternoon is that eventually something like the following goes on in my head:

There are only a few days left in March....wouldn't it be great if I could come away with $500 today?....should I increase my share size to make some quick money?.....I want to come away with a positive day today and I want to see how far into positive territory I can get today....hmmmmmm that stock is at it's upper end of it's trading range....I could make a quick profit if it were to break.....hrmmm....there are only two hours left in the trading day....

The longer these crap thoughts stew in my mind, the more likely a crap trade will result.

So then I took a quick hit via GT....darn it!

Time was running out so then I found myself forcing trades on HD and C, then I took another hit via KR. HD really did a number on me and even though the stock itself did literally nothing in the afternoon, I kept trading this lousy stock....and kept losing.

As the afternoon went along, it just seemed to get worse and worse. I completely lost what I was doing and what I was watching for in a trade and it felt more like aimless and random positions I was taking.

In the past, I've tried occupying my time with things like MP3 players, crosswords, etc...but I still find it hard to focus in the afternoons. Maybe it depends on my mood and maybe it depends how well I've been doing, but I do admit that this is a problem.

Warmer weather is around the corner so maybe afternoon walks can help clear my head.

In the meantime, I think I should call it a day after lunch (what is the 5th time I've tried to do this?) just for the next little while.

Also, ever since we changed the clocks forward for daylight savings, I been feeling extremely sluggish and I've been having difficulty getting myself out of bed even if I try to get to bed earlier...maybe this might have to do with my trading funk....I don't know....

Hopefully by taking the afternoons off to chill out, I can feel more well-rested....

Good Trades
(trades in which I make $200 or more)
  • None

Bad Trades
(trades in which I lose $150 or more)
  • None



  • Hey JC. It seems like your internal conversation is not too productive and this may be damaging your results. I think about all this stuff as well, but I tend to do it at night, before I sleep, because this is when I am calm and can think it through. Until recently, I used to let this conversation run through my head when I was trading and I would always push too hard, because I had a need for 'a result' which meant trading when opportunity wasn't necessarily there. I can only pass on the advice given to me and recommend the idea about taking breaks...even if the weather isn't too nice. The other thing that helps to no end is going to the gym..the effect this has on my mental state and my ability to feel confident and think rationality is really strong. Anyway, sleep is also important and its 2am here, so time to sign off. All the best.

    By Anonymous Caravaggio, at March 20, 2007 9:50 p.m.  

  • I feel your pain. I also think you're "making a difference" a huge one for the better in this world, by sharing in your terrific blog. It is extraordinarily beneficial to people you don't even know. Hopefully what goes around will come back to you in a very profitable way. JH

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 20, 2007 10:00 p.m.  

  • Hey JC,

    You are very good at hanging in there, and grinding out positive months...but in my humble opinion, there are days when a trader just needs to push away from the screen. And pre-Fed days are historically choppy days. Book a haircut or a Drs appointment on these days, or maybe a massage. Things won't get interesting until tomorrow at 2:16 pm.

    Love your blog, you'll get that 10k month!

    By Anonymous Linda P., at March 21, 2007 12:28 a.m.  

  • Thanks for sharing. Its great to see your thought process and hopefully learn from it.


    By Blogger Rahul, at March 21, 2007 2:21 a.m.  

  • I'm 100% agreeing with Linda here, I watched all day yesterday and didn't make a trade, not a single one, and I felt ok with that. Its better to make money on 2 days and have 3 zero days then make money on 2 days and lose it all and more on 3 days.

    Again smaller trade sizes, positive attitude, and learn to walk away. I have at least 4 books on investing/trading going and I keep them on my desk so when I make the decision to not trade I still feel like I'm doing something work wise.

    I also second the gym or whatever it is (beach for me) that takes you completely away from this game and recharges you.

    Best, pixie

    By Anonymous pixie, at March 21, 2007 6:27 a.m.  

  • Caravaggio, JH, Linda, Rahul, and Pixie,

    Thanks to all of you for the great advice and for keeping me on my toes. It seems like my need to put on a trade comes and goes and I think it really depends on how my trading has been lately....when I'm down in the dumps I seem to want to trade more, but if I'm doing well, I feel more inclined to sit and wait. I'll try my best in the coming week to keep my mind free and clear of any distracting thoughts and I'll try my best to focus on when to trade and when not to trade. Again, many thanks to all of's always re-assuring to have a great bunch of folks like you guys who always got my back when things aren't going too well....I just wish there was something I could do to repay all of you....

    Good luck and good trading to all!

    By Blogger J.C., at March 21, 2007 4:10 p.m.  

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