Having spent the past two years studying technical analysis and teaching myself the art of trading, I will tell you that I’ve learned a lot but also know how much I still need to learn. Knowledge is based on two things – theory and practice. In any endeavour to learn a new skill, it takes time and effort. The challenge with trading is that it also involves learning curves that can be costly. However, this is the only way to learn the skill. By regular practice. As it is with all things in life.
With the discovery of cryptocurrency, I was totally new to economics, finance and trading. The intuition that there was easy money to be made in becoming a trader came to me years ago already, but I always felt unqualified, having not studied it. But then I discovered Bitcoin and it was this adventure in crypto that brought me to want to express my long held dream of being a trader. What better platform than in the volatile and potentially lucrative field of cryptocurrency trading.
And the most interesting side of it was day trading. Here I could stare at charts all day, watching the price movements on all time frames. And daily there would be amazing potential gains to be had. Of course, they are easy to see in hindsight, and for the novice they play upon the greed inherent in all of us. Greed and fear, these are the two instincts that a trader will discover within his or her personality, whether you like them or not.
Trading is a psychological business, and it teaches you about your own mind, with its strengths and weaknesses. Just like any application of effort against some sort of challenge or competition, you learn about your shadow side, your hidden strengths and your own mind. The mind can be ones best friend or worst enemy. It is not to be trusted. It is the intelligence, which is above the mind, that we need to listen to if we want to succeed in life and trading. The mind will demand satisfaction of the basic drives, like survival and profit. But the intelligence, based on learning and experience, will determine whether you succeed.
For example, in the eagerness to catch all the possible profit from the simple price movement of your favourite cryptocurrency, you may try to look for or identify as many trades as you can – one every day if possible. But sometimes the best move is no move. There is no use trying to force a trade just because of greed or over-enthusiasm. Some days do not present genuinely valuable trades, and it is then important to know one of the best skills in trading, and in life – how to do nothing.
Not doing is the solution to overdoing, which usually causes us to force the issue and end up losing out as a result. Here we need to pick our trades with intelligence, not out of desperation. Making money from trading is as much about wealth preservation as it is about wealth creation. Protect what you already have, defend it like a bear. And then secondly comes the attempt to grow your account, like a bull.
With Bitcoin it is easier, I feel, to make a profit because price usually returns to previous highs. Bitcoin is a unique product in that it is destined to climb onward and upward. There is less chance of it losing value in the long run and much more likelihood that it will continue growing in price as it has for the past ten years. The dips are occasional, and even if it takes a year, price returns to its former glory and surpasses it each time. The same can’t be said about the other altcoins.
Add to that the much greater potential profit in the volatile crypto market and you have an easier place to learn the skills of trading. After over a year of attempting to make money as a trader, I was able to make some small gains and learned that your style of trading reflects your personality. There are small quick day trades of a few hours that bring 1-3% profit, for the side of me that is impatient and enjoys the fast action of quick trades, as well as hating to lose anything at all. Then there are the longer swing trades over a few days, that bring 5-10% profits for the patient side.
Then there are the high risk trades for the greedy mind, like when a new coin or IEO is launched on an exchange and the volatility goes through the roof. The desire to grab some of that price action was high in the early days of trading, but I soon learned from a few losses there that this is also just as risky as it is profitable, and that it was my greed that was getting the better of my intelligence.
Then there is “hankering” and “lamenting”. These are both obstacles on the path of life, and they certainly show themselves in trading. There are so many huge potential profits every day to be seized by the discerning trader, but they are all seen in hindsight. Nobody can fully time the bottoms or the tops to capture all the price movement seen in those attractive price swings. So we see them and hanker after them, or we lament that we missed them. I would sell at a small profit, only for the price to keep climbing and I would miss accumulating twice as much as I could have in a particular trade, for example. This goes on all the time, but we need to remember that such allures are not worth losing sleep over.
By catching even just a fraction of a price move, we can add to our profits as a trader. And we need to learn to be content with that, otherwise we will find ourselves on our death bed still hankering after illusory pleasures of the body, or lamenting sentimentally about some loss or missed opportunity which is long gone. We might feel like a teenage romantic, who longs for a requited lover, only to cause our own emotional depression for no intelligent reason. You are the cause of your own depression when you put too much value or place too much attachment onto the object of your desires.
Whether it is a lover, or just plain money, as long as you are too attached to it, that very thing will destroy you. Attachment is a symptom of greed and too much ego. And an intelligent person soon realizes that they are the fool if they invoke a mood of depression upon themselves because of some outside factor, like another person’s opinion of you, or a mundane object like money. This is a major pitfall in trading. It cultivates within the mind of the trader too much obsession with money. That is why I occasionally take a step back from trading, to give me perspective.
The feverish mind will be inflamed when meditating on the objects of the senses excessively. Whether it is the desire for sex or money, you will be feeding the flames by staring at the object of your desires. And those flames will consume you, dictate your feelings of well-being or lack thereof when you obsess about them. In trying to chase happiness, you will be dragged into lamentation if you become overly focused on the external object as the source of your happiness.
We need to learn to cultivate self-satisfaction, or contentment within. We should never allow our equanimity to be dependent on the objects of sex or money. I have learned this from life, now as I reach old age. I can give you youngsters some advice based on experience. Don’t get trapped thinking it is the external money or lover that will bring you happiness because that money will come and go if you’re a trader, and the lover will come and go most of the time too.
Yet you need to be able to feel complete with or without the external object. It is not the source of your joy in life. Your mind is the source of your joy or distress, so rather cultivate the right mindset independent of the circumstances. You should be complete as you are, so cultivate that attitude, and if you need to, then afterwards supplement your life with the pursuit of money and sex.
If you want my secret to happiness then this is it. I am giving it to you for free based on 50 years on the planet. It’s all in the mind – the subjective feeling of being rich or poor, in love or lonely – these are up to you and your interpretation of your situation, not up to the external factors. It’s all a matter of perception. As long as you are dependent on some outside ingredient, you will suffer, because it will come and go. Find wealth and love within, and all around you in the freely existing attributes of life, and you will be the wealthiest and most loved person in the world. Now you know.