Imagine the freedom of being your own boss. You get to work when you want, how you want, and where you want. You’re free to take risks and chances without the peripheral gaze of an overbearing authority. Everything is planned, implemented, and followed up on by you. But while this is true, it might not be as glamorous as you imagine.
The reality is, many people who become their own bosses as traders, immediately fall into a well laid trap. The most successful and disciplined traders have devised effective plans to work for themselves but the truth is, most of us don’t have what it takes to self discipline, self motivate, and self correct in a profession that can be incredibly lonely and unsure. No other skill job would require its occupants to go it alone without coaches, trainers, and experts to constantly rely on. But trading is different and exceedingly lonely. It doesn’t take much for ill-prepared traders to end up lost in their own heads and ultimately failing.
The Learning Curve
Despite how much you think you might know at a given point, be aware that as a trader, you are always in a continuous learning curve. This is an extremely tricky thing to navigate when you don’t have an experienced person by your side to guide you. When you’re learning alone, it can be very difficult to accurately assess your progress or level of ability. You might be stuck in a plateau but from your perspective, be unable to recognize it. When you have another person working with you, their experience and alternate perspective can recognize these and other traps you may find yourself in.
Beating the Boredom Bug
The next pitfall you’ll inevitably come up against when you work for yourself is boredom. When you’re alone and free to do as you wish, it’s easy to lose interest and focus at the task at hand. Staring at numbers for a very long time can bore the hell out of you. Boredom can destroy any feelings of excitement you might have had and sap up the thrill and fun of work. This is especially dangerous when you have limited social contact and no one to bounce ideas off of. Make sure you are fully aware of all of the warning signs that come with boredom. You need to find effective ways to handle moments when you find yourself drifting over to familiar websites to kill the time.
In addition to learning difficulties and the ever dangerous boredom syndrome, a lack of effective self awareness can be a major obstacle in becoming an effective boss of yourself. Since you’re not around other professionals, and you don’t have a guide leading your focus, when you’re stuck, it’s incredibly hard to see what you might be repeatedly doing wrong. An outside view from an authority brings self awareness that we can not provide ourselves.
Self-Awareness (Or lack thereof)
It’s very hard to create an effective system of self assessment especially when you’re on your learning curve. If you don’t find success right away, it’s easy to lose track of your goals because the reward becomes more unclear as the days go by. The further removed from your goal, the easier it becomes to cut corners and look for shortcuts. This is a very difficult cycle to break once you’re in it.
When no one is asking you to report or to explain your actions, you will not improve yourself over time. This is an incredibly important part of the routine traders need to develop in order to self improve.
The master key to resolving all of these challenges associated with being our own bosses is to understand that we are inherently social creatures. We need to interact with each other and we need to be inspired by other people and their unique qualities. Therefore we need to find people who are synergistic and symbiotic to what we are. We need to pair with others that we can help and who can in turn help us. Working alone as a trader runs counter to the natural social ways of people.
However, it’s a mistake to think trading has to be done completely alone. It is possible to work in teams and trading in groups can be especially rewarding. Thanks to modern technology, you can be at home and also be socializing in many professional ways. You don’t need to find a boss for yourself but you do need to find a team or a single person that will let you resolve your key challenges with them. A person who you can share your trading thoughts with and bounce ideas, fears, successes off of is invaluable.
The easiest way to do this is to find a trading team or a trading pal. Having a mutual commitment, this person will hopefully support you and you will support them. You’ll find that working out problems outloud with another person is so much more effective than trying to work out issues in your own head.
Be aware that your different views might lead to the exposure of holes in a plan you set up for your work together but the challenges of overcoming any and all differences will ultimately help you understand your ideas better. This happens because you’ll have to really understand the concepts in order to explain them to another person. This is a priceless learning tool for traders.
It might prove very difficult to find this particular person because you’ll need to find someone who is more or less at the exact same level as you are. While you’re looking, there are more things you can do that will have the similar effect as having a partner.
A good option is to write a trading blog where you lay out all of the things you’re experiencing. The people who visit and read your blog will in turn write back and challenge you to give coherent answers to everything you’re writing about and dealing with. This feedback can bring immense gratification and reward.
Another option is to teach. You don’t have to be a master to go and teach a subject you’re familiar in. At any level, you can go and teach people who are below yourself. Teaching also provides a platform in which you’re constantly challenged and always pushed to rework your plan in order to sufficiently answer all the questions your students throw at you. If there are any holes in your ideas or way of thinking, they’ll find them and force you to fix them.
How you choose to control yourself when presented with total freedom, is ultimately up to you. While there are tips and tools, at the end of the day, it will all come down to how much self control and motivation you have to make it work. If you really want it to work as a trader, commit to it and bust your butt to make it happen. If you don’t, you’ll find early on that it’s probably not the right career for you.