Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday 05/28/09 - Running on Empty

Today was bad from the get go; no motivation, lousy focus, and lack of sleep weighed on me, and I missed some nice trade sequences in the morning. The mind just wasn't sharp enough, and I was still half asleep when I got to the screens around 9:00 AM (central). Just felt super tired all day. I wasn't around much for the afternoon since I had to take care of some additional paperwork. I got back to the screens around 2:30 PM and placed 3 more trades into the close (2 winners, 1 loser). All in all, a pretty bad day but somehow managed to end with a +3.75 pt gain. For the full-time traders, how do you maintain focus throughout the day? Here are the Stats:

# of Trades 7
Longs 3
Shorts 4
% Break-Even: 0.00
% Win 57.14
% Loss 42.86
Avg Win 1.81
Avg Loss -1.17
Largest Win (pts) 2.50
Largest Loss (pts) -2.00
Total Win (pts) 7.25
Total Loss (pts) -3.50
Net Gain/Loss (pts) 3.75
ES Daily Range 22.50
P/L as % of Daily Range 16.67

GDP out at 7:30 AM tomorrow morning, Chicago PMI at 8:45 AM, and Consumer Sentiment at 8:55 AM.

ES (5-Min)

ES (Daily) - Lower high and lower low, with a Close near the highs on today's Daily candle. Support in the mid 880s below.


  1. Hi E-Mini Player,

    Your comments today caught my attention because I also was both physically and mentally tired on Thursday.

    One thing that I do to help stay focused on the market when I do not have an active position is to play a game of trying to guess where the market will go next. Whether I'm right or wrong, I try to figue out why. Was I just lucky or unlucky, or was there a good technical reason for my guess.

    Many times this game will help me see a possible, new trading techique to study.


  2. Some weeks are more draining than others, I think a lot of traders are worn out this week.

    Don't trade everday. Most of the action is just noise anyways.

  3. Charles, that's a good idea. Usually I'm marking up the charts pretty actively to keep myself engaged in the price action, but yesterday I couldn't even do that. It was just a total downer/no-energy day for me.

  4. At the risk of offending somebody (hopefully all traders have a thick skin so that those "trades that don't work" will just bounce off) I will add this. I mentioned my F-T-A-W mantra in a previous post today as a reply to the question Awais posted today about staying alert and motivated. Let me mention another 3x5 card that sits on my desk, in plain view, every day while trading. I wish I could take a picture of it, but will have to just type it out here instead). It says " NO PUSSIES ALLOWED! This is my life. This is our future. TODAY matters! It is unacceptable to do anything but
    F-T-A and W. FOCUS...THINK...ACT...WIN. Nobody is better than me. I have unlimited energy and ability to focus...more than anybody else. My mind is as sharp as a sword. I see everything. I see ALL the price action. I am the best. TODAY I will be a ROCK..all day for everything. Be the strong link...not the weak one. There is a plan for everyday".

    OK, now for anyone who thinks this is jibberish you don't understand how the mind works. Go get a copy of Psycho-Cybernetics or some similar book. Am I really the best there is? Oh sure, there are thousands of traders who make more than I do, whether it be points or dollars. Too many to count. That's not the point. Trading is a mental exercise. If you don't build the belief, and the confidence, then you will become a statistic you don't want to be. What motivates YOU?
    P.S. F-T-A-W

  5. Hi Awais,
    Here is my original post that got lost in cyberspace. It was meant to precede the one already listed here, for your Thursday post. I have a tendency to give long responses so I hope it doesn’t grind on anyone reading it.

    You asked what other traders do to maintain focus all day. Wow, what a great day to ask that question .…on Thursday, the day before the huge short squeeze in the last 15 minutes of Friday where some traders made their whole week in a few minutes, while others got taken to the cleaners. It came at the very end of the day, on the last day of the week, on the last day of the month, and on a day that spent the great majority of the time in a range that chopped, sliced, and diced. It was real easy to quit early that day and start an early weekend.

    As daytraders we have until 9:30 to 4:00 to make our living. Some days will see great setups and some days will bore us to death and give nothing in the way of tradable setups that fit our plan. At the end of the week there is no payroll dept. sending us a paycheck just for showing up. The best opportunity of the day may be just 10 minutes in the future. Nobody really knows. So it pays to pay attention. Afterall, tomorrow may be a horrible day so we have to make it when the market is in a giving mood.

    For some time now I’ve had a mantra I’ve been running on an endless loop throughout my head. It’s also written in my trading notes and on a 3x5 card on my desk. It goes like this….:
    “ can't see a setup if you are letting yourself get distracted. the "what if" scenarios in your head. ACT.....when a setup is there you take it. No guarantees it will work. It's a game of probabilities. So you take it. Ask, "What's the risk?" It's usually LESS than you think. WIN...expect to win. Confidence is priceless in this business. Focus, Think, Act, Win.
    F-T-A-W .... F-T-A-W .... F-T-A-W.”

    ----OK, I got warning that my post exceeds 4,096 characters so it can't be printed. Maybe that's what happened to the first one. So this is part one.-----

  6. Part 2.....Trading is a mental game where the rules can come easily, but the execution can be very hard. I find I do better when I tell myself I HAVE to perform well today. It forces me to focus. It’s like Don Millers imaginary “I’m starting the day in the hole” picture. It creates some stress. And as much as some will say stress is bad, stress is also a great motivator. I don’t think we can really succeed at our best if we don’t have some stress applied. Just my opinion. My F-T-A-W mantra tells me to be thinking ahead and running the scenarios in my head because if I don’t I may miss that one setup that makes it all worthwhile.

    I know from lots of personal experience that if I come into the day with my mental button “off” I will sit and watch and analyze but just watch good setups go by without me. I really have to be mentally in the game if I’m going to click the buy/sell buttons. So I guess that my answer to your question is a good bit of mental programming sort of like those subliminal programs out there. A sense of both urgency and importance has to be implanted in my head. It’s too easy to avoid clicking that buy/sell button otherwise.

    I’m over 50, but I feel like I’m 35. I work out. I eat right (mostly at least). I know I will get brain lazy if I get body lazy. I go to bed on time. I don’t drink coffee during the day (it makes my jittery and hungry). I follow a regular daily regimen in an attempt to “stay in the groove” mentally. Maybe 5 years from now I’ll be able to slack off some….maybe not. It’s interesting to read how Don Miller talks as if he’s losing his edge mentally. He too employs various mental tricks in order to trade all day long.

    I know it’s different for traders who also have other jobs. So it changes things some. But this is what I need to do as a full-time trader. It really is all about personal psychology. Trading rules that work are a dime-a-dozen. Execution is worth considerably more. Focus, however. is priceless. The ability to focus is the 3rd leg of a 3 legged stool.

    I mention more about the importance of why I run “F-T-A-W” in my head in the other post…because this is IT for me. There’s nothing to turn back to.

  7. Excellent stuff Chuck, thank you so much for the detailed comments! I'm going to write down your F-T-A-W mantra on a 3x5 card myself!

  8. EP,
    I am with my charts from 9am (my time here) to 4am almost everyday including weekends (except for errand-running days). I get 4 hours of sleep daily (which is enough for me - I don't need an alarm clock to wake me up), and take a nap occasionally (usually after reading Al Brooks...) during the Europe session. I don't think about how to stay focused. Whenever I lose focus and can't read my charts, I do something else and come back hoping to get a new perspective. If I don't, I walk away again. Focus is something that can't be forced. If there's really something specific that's distracting me, I would deal with it and get it out of the way. If I'm losing focus simply coz I'm just too tired, I call it a day and turn in. Focus is something that you lose quickly once you become aware of it. These days, I don't tell myself to "focus" anymore. If I can't read my charts, I know it's not my day and I look forward to the next day. Trading psychology is a lot more than just telling your brain to do something, or should I say, a lot LESS. Sometimes I think that it really is just about acknowledging/ accepting that you can't force an outcome by changing YOU or any other variables. You just have to take a signal when it presents itself (or not take it if it's too costly to find out if it's a valid one) and then see how it goes from there.
    Again, that's just me. No 2 persons' brains work the same way. Am just sharing my experience.

  9. Thanks for sharing Jules! I don't know how you're able to operate on 4 hours of sleep...that's crazy! I think my main problem is lack of sleep since I get *only* 5-6 hours. I also need to hit the gym and be more active physically, and that may translate to being more active mentally.


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