3 min read

Pros + Cons of being a part-time trader

You might have noticed I only got 2 days into my self-proclaimed "June Challenge", then quit.

No excuses - I've quit on these things in the past and probably will never be the most consistent guy out there.

But, this time there's a reason attached to it that you might relate to.

→ I joined a startup.

Let me back up for a second:

I've always been a part-time trader, balancing trading with another business. That's ranged from restaurants to clean tech to, most recently, a marketing consultancy.

I have tried trading full time twice....it's never gone well for me.

It took a while to accept this idea, but I'm a lot more comfortable having two things going on at the same time.

I think it's got something to do with cash flow, stability, and growth. They're separate things, to me, and they play out best with individual focus.

So with that explanation out of the way, I got a text from a friend of mine asking if I knew anyone who could fill a specific role at their new company.

Long story short, things clicked really quickly, and I was on a plane to San Francisco a few days later. I ran a little workshop, we talked out a deal, and...I've got my first real job since I was ~24.

While I was out there, I also took some time to visit old family friends and meet their kids for the first time. This was the first vacation time I've taken in years, so it was a major change of pace.

By the time I got back to Colorado, I was really happy and relaxed.

Whenever I've hit zones like this, it's always translated to good decision-making and better trading.

That carried over to my latest attempt to grow something with Topstep. Here's what I strung together in July:

There's one glitchy moment on Day 1, but other than that it's been solid. Most importantly, I've been avoiding overtrading.

Even the TraderIQ report looks better than I've managed it in the past:

I'd like to put more months like this together, both on my personal account and the Topstep project.

Obviously, it's more of a correlation than a causation - but this is not the first time I've felt this sort of stability + satisfaction in life carry over to stability + satisfaction in trading.

My two takeaways from this are:

#1) I need to find ways to improve the external factors in life.

  • Take more breaks. I work way too hard/too much, and I end up building a lot of quiet, low-level stress that comes out in weird ways.
  • Work on being happier. Sounds cheesy, but this comes straight out in my trading. When I'm deeply happy, it's easy to stop with a small loss or a small win. When I'm not, I tend to chase.
  • Write more here. Journaling has always been a big deal for me, and I'd like to do more of it in public. It gets my thoughts organized and creates some consistent accountability. The more I'm self-aware, the better my performance becomes.

#2) Find creative outlets.

  • One of the warnings I got from Van Tharp's Trader Test nearly 8 years ago was that I need creative outlets, otherwise I'd probably get bored trading and start forcing things. Spot on. I'm actually going to go back to the test and take it tonight.
  • I'm going to stop working until crazy late hours and replace that time with something different, like some art classes from Udemy or YouTube.
  • I'm going to dictate my trading notes on walks. I'll look like a nutcase, but this has always worked for me in the past - you end up pulling out different angles and ideas.

Let me know if any of this resonates with you. I feel like there's a bunch of stigma around whether you're a full-time or part-time trader....but it's a false goal.

It's much more useful to figure out where trading fits into your life and what external factors you can control to create a healthier trading environment.