What I Learned From A Thousand-Day Streak

Two
years, nine months, and thirteen days. 
That’s
the last time that I was completely unaware of what the market had done during
the day. I remember the day because that was the day we loaded up the van and
made a two-day trek back to relocate to our current home in the Northeast. Oddly
enough, and by my back-of-the-envelope math, that was 1,000 days ago on the
nose. That’s 143 weeks or 691 trading days, give or take a few holidays. Even
when I had to tend to other obligations during some of the days, I would check
in for a market recap via the Internet or cell phone sometime before I turned in
for the evening.  Adjusting for a few travel and speaking days, along with
producing the QQQ
and

E-Mini videos
and tending to some family issues last year, more than 98% of
those 691 days included active trading (heck, we even
traded during the videotaping)
,
and the vast majority of them since
June 2001 included doing this daily column.

If you knew my intimate personality, you would know that’s not a surprise as I’m
one to pour my heart, soul, and sweat into any pursuit for which I have a
passion. And trading has always been a passion for me. I love trading it,
talking about it, writing about it, and teaching it. I’ve also always believed
one learns by doing vs. watching, and that the more one “does,” the greater the
education. Textbook stuff is fine, but nothing beats experience. This belief and
subsequent practice were as true in my corporate days as it has been in my
trading days.

That 1,000 day streak — something that I am NO
prouder of than the current Red Sox World Championship dry spell — came to an
end on Monday when my body sent me a significant physical wake-up call. It’s a
call of a nature that has required me to step back and take a brief hiatus to
tend to some physical “neglect” that has accumulated during that time.

Looking back for the moment, it was almost two years ago when Larry Connors
asked me to begin writing for TradingMarkets. I first said “no.” In fact I think
I said “no” twice. I said “no” because I was a trader and didn’t want to fall
into the camp of “those who can’t do, teach or write.” I also didn’t believe
many would be interested in my babbling and wanted to focus on my trading. And
if you can believe, I also enjoy my privacy. Yet after thinking his requests
over, I ultimately thought I might be able to do some good by sharing some views
from a different, and perhaps simpler perspective in an industry that in my view
is far too complex and ridden with self-interests — views which would be
founded as much on the mistakes I’d made as well as the successes. Plus, I enjoy
writing and teaching … maybe it’s a right/left brain thing.

I ultimately accepted Larry’s
request, yet certainly didn’t expect much of a reaction. After all, we launched

the column
founded on a darn tracking fund. And if you had told me that my
email box would overflow nightly and that we’d produce a few instructional
videos and simulations that would go on to be among the industry’s best-sellers,
I would have laughed for days. Yet for some crazy reason, your reaction and
interest over the past few years has been both amazing and humbling to this hick
from a small mill town.  Yet the bottom line is I hope we’ve done some good over
the years, and hope we’ll continue to do so in the future. For I believe if we
don’t do any good, then efforts — despite best intentions — are simply left
hollow.  And good is usually the product of a mistake.

So I’m writing today’s column to share an error with the hope of helping you
avoid one. A 1,000 day error.  As blunt as I can be, find time folks to shut
down completely from time to time. Just do it … no excuses accepted. Find
extended and dedicated times where you don’t pick up a paper or turn on the PC
or tube.  Don’t talk about it, think about it, and ask your trading friends not
to discuss it. Then come back. It’s somewhat ironic
that 
I left a very comfortable executive
position in the corporate world to pursue this crazy business to pursue a
passion that would provide me freedom and independence along the way. The
problem is, I forgot about the freedom part.

I expect our hiatus will be brief, and look forward to sharing my charts, views,
and those email-generating soapbox babblings when we restart. In the meantime,
there won’t be any charts today as I have no clue as to what the market is
doing, as will be the case for a short while. It’s a strange feeling. Very
strange. Yet I have a funny and warm feeling that the market will still be here
when we return.

In the meantime …

Good Trading!

Don Miller