In our previous article we offered some excellent suggestions for situations where you are struggling so much you have had to bring your trading activities to a full stop. When you halt your trading activities completely, you are no longer hunting for setups. You are trying to figure out what is going wrong before you get back to your routine. While you are in these situations, you can also do the following activities to occupy your time and get back on your feet.
Troubleshoot your trading.
When you have unexplained drawdown in your account, you need to get back to the point where you can demo test profitably so you can trade live again and get back to making money. Troubleshooting can be very time-consuming, and it can be frustrating in and of itself. But this is something you have to get through before you can go back to taking trades. So bite the bullet and do it.
Go back over your journal and troubleshoot your psychology. Sometimes what you need to troubleshoot is not technical; it is psychological. Another great way to use all this extra time is to read through your trading journal entries. Look for patterns, something that may have changed recently that could have caused you to start losing trades.
Ask for help.
This is a good time to reach out to others in the trading community for advice. Oftentimes what you really need is just some outside perspective. That may be enough to get you back on track. Someone else has probably been where you are now!
Get back to an old hobby or project.
It might sound strange, but I think especially during these “off” times when nothing is going your way, you need to get away from your trading sometimes. I even think you should write this down in your trading plan, to remind yourself that it is okay—and actually a pretty good idea. Pick up a hobby or project you have abandoned, something totally unrelated to trading. Doing so will give your life more balance, and may even give you a new way of looking at things. Sometimes that new perspective extends to trading and helps you solve problems that are holding you back.
Spend more time with friends and family.
When you have a lot of downtime from trading and you are stuck, it is time to ask yourself if there are other areas of your life where maybe you also have been seeing a deficit. Social life in particular is hard to keep up with when you are an aggressive trader. Take some of this time to reconnect with the people you love. This is not about trading, and it is not a means to an end. Work can feel like it matters more than anything in the world when you are really committed, but that is not reality. The people in your life are just as important, if not more so.
Get out of town. Change the scenery. This is partly a means to an end, and partly an end in and of itself. Getting out of your trading space can get you out of the headspace where you are stuck and failing. Sometimes you need the fresh air. The scenery change can help you get out of your comfort zone, break patterns that are holding you back, and see the world and your trading anew.
Take some real time off and relax!
There is no time when you are likely going to be more tempted to overwork then when you are stuck and feel like you are making no progress. But that is exactly the time when you probably need R&R the most. You need to give your brain a break. It may not feel like it, but it is a much more efficient way to go after a solution. And the reality is, you need a balanced life in order for your life to be fulfilling. Profit comes in many forms.
Downtime is something that is incredibly hard to deal with if you are a go-getter. You feel like you are wasting time when you are not trading. But you do not have to waste that time. If you have a plan for what you will do with it, and you write that plan down, you will be able to steer clear of the temptation to trade when you shouldn’t.
And as I mentioned earlier, trading should be boring sometimes. Not trading when there are no setups or when you are troubleshooting drawdown is just as critical as taking the right trades when they come along. So include a section in your trading plan with instructions for dealing with these frustrating times of inaction. Use that time to learn, to test, to troubleshoot, to reach out to others in the community, and to get back in touch with other aspects of your life.