Maternity Leave Musings & More…
It’s a little more than 3 weeks after the birth of my second child, and I’m already finding it challenging to ‘enjoy’ the lack of work. While of course, I want to spend that precious time with my newborn son, and I am, I also feel a bit naked without all the craziness I am so accustomed to. Spending my days trading, writing, being in the trading rooms, and doing media is so ingrained in my day-to-day that it’s strange to be complete without it. I suppose that is how I ended up stretching my brain a bit and sending you some midnight musings.
Between the newborn snuggles, constant feedings, homeschooling, family time, and very recent near-death experience (more on that at another time), I’m finding myself revisiting how I got into this crazy business, to begin with. It was with the birth of my firstborn that I decided being a trader would give me the kind of life I wanted for us. So, I suppose it’s only natural that looking back almost ten years later, I’d find myself re-examining those intentions along with how they are playing out. I know I’m not alone in this, so I thought I’d share them with you.
It is the holiday season, after all. While there are some of you looking forward to some extra ‘market closed’ time, I know there are always many of you die-hards attached to your computer anyway, either because you love it or because you’re trying to avoid your in-laws. “I swear honey, I have to manage these trades!” They’ll never know the market is actually closed right now, right?!
And so, while one part of me isn’t used to my slow-paced days, I find myself reminding myself why I got into this, to begin with. The last thing I wanted ten years ago when I had Leo was to leave my newborn in some kind of childcare while I spent all day at work. At the time, I didn’t know anything about trading, and working from home really was not a thing. Work-from-home jobs were considerably more sparse than they are now. They were largely gig work and nothing much I could see myself doing. As such, I decided to take a stab at trading.
Little did I know this is where I’d take it ten years later.
Why We Trade
There are many reasons why one sets out to become a trader. The first, and most obvious, is generally the potential monetary benefits that drive us forward. It’s that drive that can keep us going when the going gets tough. For example, during a long bear market, crypto crash, potential recession, and more…
Having the drive and understanding about why you’re doing what you’re doing keeps us going. But, many who enter this profession are blinded by that green envy, and focus only on profits over strategy and education. That is what ultimately leads to their demise.
After all, when the focus is only on money when the cash isn’t free-flowing, it’s easy to get thrown off course and distracted from your long-term goals.
Like, for example, when life intervenes.
Over the years, I’ve spoken to so many of you that have reached out and told me about instances in which you had to take a step back from your trading, for one reason or another. I’ve heard from traders who have taken time off to take care of a sick spouse or ailing parents. Or, new parents take time to focus on spending time with their new babies. Some traders just want a break during the regular summertime lull and instead wanted to travel via RV or spend time with their grandkids. Maybe you took a break at one point because you just needed to take care of yourself. I’ll get a message like this before a trader decides to step away, or, upon their return to the markets.
Generally, when I get one of these notes, it usually has a hint of regret or shame. It’s spoken from a place as though life ‘getting in the way’ of making money somehow makes you less of a professional.
I think you know what I mean. Unless, of course, you’re one of the rare and lucky few that truly loves turning off your computer and walking away from your charts, only to revisit them when you are well and ready! I think the rest of us start getting the itch to get back online sooner than we think.
Of course, no two days in this profession are the same.
When Trading Isn’t as Fun as You’d Like
It’s especially true that we as traders must be aware of the reasons why we put ourselves through what can be akin to psychological warfare when life is hitting the fan. I love money just as much (likely more) than most, but money isn’t, and can’t, be the ultimate driving force. We have to know and focus on the why. Or else, we’re all this much closer to getting churned up and spit out as so many would-be traders did over the last 11 months.
Thankfully, I have never considered quitting trading yet, no matter how crazy the market and the world can get. Stubbornness surely plays a part. I like waking up and having each day different than the one before. But more than anything, I’m here because I have a driving force. That force is first and foremost the ability, the time, and the freedom to be able to work from anywhere and provide for my kids, while also being able to spend that precious time with them.
On the days when things just aren’t going my way, it’s especially important to remember the reasons why I’m here. Maybe I’m having a bad day because a trade blew up in my face, some keyboard cowboy took the liberty to tell me and everyone else on YouTube how much they hate me, my son’s behavior hits another new level of frustration, or I screwed up on live TV. That driving force is what I focus on. The reason why we are here, the driving force behind doing what we do has to be the core focus, and the driver of gratitude.
It’s also why taking a step away when you need to, is such a critical piece of keeping that long-term momentum going. The ability to do so may at the time seem like a curse. “I’m out of the game!,” you may say to yourself. “I’m missing out!.” But, I’m here to remind you it’s a blessing in this crazy career path we have chosen.
Don’t ever forget – FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) – is an all-powerful emotion we as traders must recognize and put to an end before it takes our sanity and our money.
Allowing yourself to step away when you want or need to focus on something else is FOMO’s kryptonite.
The Psychology of Stepping Away
It’s always been hard for me to step away from the game, so I get it when traders tell me the same. I don’t like feeling detached, as though I’m missing out or missing moves, or most of all – missing out on making money. It hurts me a tiny bit in my soul when I check back in on the markets after some time off and see setups that I had selected just prior to taking leave playing out oh so perfectly. It’s easy to trick your brain into thinking that if you just would have been there, you would have nailed it! You would have traded that setup perfectly, to a T, and made a gazillion dollars. This darn life event/vacation/day-off was sure what was in your way.
For example, take a look at Tesla. Five days before leaving for maternity leave, I noticed this killer pattern in one of my favorite companies. Check out the image in the Tweet below:
We are ~$10 from my price target, but unfortunately, I doubt that low will hold.
The next downside targets are in the $125-150 range. https://t.co/7PJncDio4C
— Danielle Shay (@traderDanielle) November 21, 2022
Since then, the stock fell from $210 a share to about $168. Ouch! That’s approximately a 20% drop in price, whereas I was calling for about 25%. I still think it has room to fall.
I get it when traders send me emails or Tweets about how you’ve been gone and where you’ve been but yet tinted with that hint of regret. I feel it too! I didn’t trade this move in TSLA. It’s a little annoying. Okay, maybe more than a little annoying.
But, the big picture is more important.
Remember why you’re doing this. If you’re doing it for the freedom and the flexibility, but you don’t give yourself the grace and opportunity to step away when your life needs you, it’s not just your trading that will suffer.
Do you know what my mentors have always told me? Think of trading like going swimming in the ocean. You don’t leave a nice swim with regret that you didn’t get to touch all of the water, do you?
No, of course not! That would be silly, right? You don’t need to touch all of the water to enjoy the ocean, just the beach you visited. It’s the appreciation and enjoyment of what you did experience, along with the knowledge that you can always return that should be the focus. Not what you missed out on.
Why? Because of this key factor. No matter what you have going on…
“The market will always be here when you get back.”
As traders, we have the ability to simply walk away. Close out our trades. Go flat! It’s so, incredibly hard to do. But, it’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Why? Being flat is one of the best methods in which you can use to be completely objective in the market. And, who doesn’t want to brush away their own subjective viewpoints, introduced by analysis and cemented with real positions drawing upon your emotions?
Objectivity = clarity.
Saying Yes to Life Beyond the Screen
So, when the holidays approach when your kids/spouse/friends/partner asks you to step away from the screens, spend some time with them and do whatever it is you do and you’re this close to giving them any myriad of excuses you’re used to giving, think about saying yes. Because, what is the point of being a trader who can work from home, determine their own risk, trading style, hours, and more, if you can’t use all of that to be physically present for other things that matter just as much (or more?)?
I knew it would be challenging for me to step back in order to slow down enough to take maternity leave. It’s hard for me to take a vacation for 5 days. How would it even be possible to turn off this brain for a few months?! But, I’ve got my beautiful baby boy that we waited so long for. I busted my butt to become a trader for Leo, but now ten years later I still have the same desires. I’m a trader. I want to trade, of course. I want to be in killer moves. I want to teach. But, right here and now, it’s time for family. And, without the ability to do that, what is the point?
You didn’t think I’d sign off without a baby picture, did you?! Meet baby Luke. This is his favorite spot. My hairdo looks a bit different these days, and he doesn’t care about the lack of makeup.
Wishing everyone who celebrates a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone enjoys the slightly lessened stock market hours this week!