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Trading Education Posted by Team Topstep August 27, 2020

When You’re Just Not Feeling It


Traders realize that success is very much about routine. The best traders I have known tend to keep a consistent schedule during the trading week and even over the weekend. This schedule not only includes how they spend their time but also how they allocate time to professional obligations and personal disciplines such as diet and exercise.

While It’s likely that most humans are creatures of habit, eventually, we all run into the hard day where we just aren’t feeling it. For whatever reason, the day feels different than usual. It might be that we didn’t sleep well the night before, it could be waking up with a headache, or it might be an unsettling event from the previous day. Whatever form it may come, in,  the “not feeling it” syndrome is genuine.

Small Distractions Can Mean Big Problems

I once listened to a chiropractor talk on how a slight misalignment of the spine can cause so many residual problems, including intense pain and sleep loss. It’s incredible how a small imbalance can cause such a profound effect. Similarly, what seems to be a minor miscue in our daily routine might have tremendous effects on our trading results.

I have observed this in many other traders, but today, the best example comes from my own experience. I am not a naturally organized person; however, I am extremely organized to offset that flaw with my trading routine. As I have suggested in previous articles, I keep a trading journal of my days. It didn’t take a scientific methodology to understand that small things that affected my routine threw a wrench into my trading results.

For example, if I was trading the 9:30 EST open of the U.S. equity markets, and it was 9:15, and I took a phone call, or read an email that only took five minutes, my routine might be completely thrown off. Therefore, I avoided these distractions.

There are other times when these factors are unavoidable. In my years of trading and working with other traders, I will say that experience and observation has informed me, that when events, even minor ones, cause you to “no longer feel it,” then its best to do something else. You might be an exception to this, but it will often be a hindrance to profitability.

Take A Day When You Need It

As an alternative, I had found that on days when I wasn’t feeling it, that they turned into some of the most productive and beneficial days of the year. One example is when I knew my trading focus was lost, and instead, I interrupted my wife’s day to take her to lunch and spend a considerable portion of the day together, just she and I. It was a special day that we still reflect on more than a year later. There have been other times when I used that day to spend with my children or binge on a TV show on some streaming service. In doing these things, one often realizes how much they needed taking a day to do something different.

The point is that to take a day off and potentially have no profitability is much better than unsuccessfully trading through some psychological block and concluding the session with losses. What’s important is to know yourself and to know how you respond to external and internal variables. Part of this is keeping some measurable inventory of yourself, such as a trading journal. As traders, we learn from the past in every way, including mental and emotional responses. Remember, there is always tomorrow, so please, take care of yourself today.