By Rob Colville on October 14, 2016 in
A recent guys’ trip proved useful for more than just a lot of fun and a much-needed escape from trading and the daily grind. Now I don’t usually get this personal, but I feel that the unique perspective I got from talking so candidly with my mates about such things as work—which, in my case, is trading—plus life, family, and relationships is just too useful not to share. So that’s why I wanted to do this today.
You see, our conversation one night over dinner somehow landed on expectations. One of the guys, who is soon to be married, is busy trying to anticipate what the upcoming wedding and married life will be like, and as the other guys tried to encourage him to simply let go of expectations and be fully present for the journey, I couldn’t help but compare that same scenario to trading.
Many of us, myself included, are guilty of sometimes focusing too much on pre-conceived expectations. Maybe not necessarily about the outcome of our trades, but maybe that the trading day will go differently than it winds up going, or that we’ll achieve tighter risk, or squeeze out more profit than we wind up earning in the end. All that leads to surprise, emotion, and often disappointment, which can take away from the overall trading experience.
And, for any of us who set such expectations in our lives outside of trading, it takes away from the overall living experience, which might be even worse. Trading, afterall, may offer second chances from time to time, but we really only get one shot to live the best, fullest, and happiest life that we can.
So with that, if expectations are playing too big a role in your trading, or your life, here are some of the reasons why you should work to let those expectations go. As it happens, I’m now doing the same…
Expectations are one thing when outcomes are closely related to factors like our education, level of experience, or preparation, but in trading, where outcomes are random and completely in the hands of the market, expectations are often misplaced to say the least. Still, traders tend to come into individual trades, trading days, and even their trading careers with certain expectations about how things will go along the way, and how they’ll turn out in the end, and that’s the problem. For we have no way of knowing that, and no say over whether it actually happens.
See also: How to Turn off Trading Expectations
Life is like that, too. For all the best-laid plans we may have at the onset of a task, or a day, or a week or more, it almost never fails for obstacles to appear that are beyond our control. And, when married to prior expectations, it makes it much harder to adapt and overcome.
There was a lot of experience at that dinner table that night. Among this group of guys are business owners, married and single guys, fathers and non-fathers, and enough work and life experience to know—or at least to think we know—what we’re talking about. So as man after man shared how their present-day realities differed from their earlier expectations, I realized that mine did too, and that extends to my trading as well.
I once expected to become a garbage man, and then a veterinarian, and then a physician’s assistant, and then an advertising executive, but never did. And when it comes to trading, I expected to be better at it much sooner than I ultimately was. Fortunately, I learned and adapted following many early mistakes and even a blown-up trading account along the way. I never expected my journey to go the way that it did, and I suspect you can already say the same. It would make good sense, then, not to carry expectations with us in the future when we already know today that trading and life tend to not go the way we intended. Wouldn’t you agree?
As I said, I never expected to blow up my first trading account, just like other guys said they never expected to get divorced, or lose a job, or lose a loved one too young. It’s so easy to come into trading inexperienced yet optimistic, and then face surprises and harsh realities that weren’t part of our plans. I can tell you, though, that I’m not sorry I faced the struggles I did in trading, and if you’ve ever had hard times, or are having them now, I’d encourage you to not feel defeated by it.
As the actual chapters of your trading story are being written, it’s the adversity and mistakes, along with the successes, that come together to show you how to trade well for the long term. And sure, adversity is rarely fun in the moment, but it often signals key turning points and teachable moments that you’ll be grateful for in the end…even though you never expected them from the beginning.
The idea of living up to our own expectations in trading was also a hot topic for conversation in The Lazy Trader Forum this past week. For access to that thread, plus continuing education and trading support, login or join our member community. You can claim your no-risk trial membership just by clicking the banner below.