Why am I a trader? What does trading do for me?

Mike Bellafiore raised the important question of “Why Do You Trade?” In that post, Dr. Jonathan Katz pointed out that the motivation to make money is often not sufficient to sustain traders. He explains that, “People need to continually find new challenges in what they do and pursue.”

People trade for all different reasons. The goals are varied and may change and evolve over time. What might be sufficient motivation at point A in your life might be different at point B. The change is NOT the problem. Problems arise when the motivation or goals shift and people do not recognize, acknowledge or address the shifting internal landscape. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing sounds like a pretty basic level of self awareness, but you would be surprised how few people are “in touch” with this level of understanding. Money, competition, achievement, material possessions, fame, status…..these are “goals” that drive many people….especially men. However they lack a core ingredient for long term success…..namely “engagement”….a personal connectedness to what one is doing that taps into something greater than the transient pleasures associated with the “hedonic treadmill” and pursuit of wealth. People need to continually find new challenges in what they do and pursue. It is the nature of the human condition. Ignoring the shifts in one’s emotional/psychological evolution often leads to a deterioration in well-being and an overall decline in personal happiness and satisfaction. In it’s more destructive forms it can lead to acting-out and self destructive behaviors. …..Don’t ignore the warning signs and don’t be guided by fear…..embrace the challenge of re-establishing the goals and priorities in your life.

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Why I Trade

I am a person driven by challenge and curiosity. From a young age I was pushing my own limits and trying to understand how things work. I love decomposing large problems and composing a solution that is multi-faceted and realistic. Humans are also of peak interest to me, in fact, people watching is one of my favorite ways to pass time. Trying to understand why people do what they do is an fascinating endeavor. I am also a strongly opinionated person who has a low tolerance for inefficiency and incompetence. When I see an issue, every bone in my body seeks to address it as soon as possible. This tends to get me into trouble in very organized structures/environments. Before I met the markets I was trying to become a Marine Corps Officer. I wanted a challenging job that required fast problem solving, an understanding of human nature, and the opportunity to operate in a environment with a high level of entropy. However, I soon found out that the military structure does not take kind to radical and swift change, and has a bit too much red tape for my personality.

The financial markets are my solution to that, now I get to challenge myself, evaluate human behavior, problem solve in real time, and operate in a random environment. I may not be jumping out of any helicopters, however, in the long run that will probably be for the best.

Markets, like war, bring out the most explosive emotions in humans. I see charts as a history of human interaction and micro "battles" that occur in areas of balance, with a winner that leads us to imbalance. Markets allow me to wake up everyday with the challenge of creating clarity in a swamp of ambiguity, then challenge me to identify and react in real time. They demand you be conscientious in every facet of life and demand consistent self improvement.

Finally, markets allow you to be completely responsible for your business and you are compensated for your exact performance. This is a double edged sword but one I am willing and excited to handle.