Searching for the next phase or career or opportunity to do what you love? You might be interested in this article written in 2006 by Paul Graham. He discusses topics such as prestige, the opinions of others, and some other contemplative topics. Hope you enjoy!
About a decade or so ago, I [Willow] decided to try my hand, so to speak, on learning how to trade in the stock market for income. I devoted a great deal of time to reading and investigating the 'best' methods to make money in the stock market. There is lots of discussion and difference of opinion about this topic, aside from the basics of fundamentals and technicals and other stock market jargon.
Partially because of all the confusion and differences in opinion about how to be successful in the stock market, I decided to rely mostly on the 'advice' of Martin Weiss; a long-time writer and spiller of market news and advice. You gotta rely on something, and I decided for various reasons to mostly rely on him.
So, I put a little money in a trading account, and kept detailed track of it, for a while. But, I found that I'm not very good at whatever it is that it takes to be a day trader, and certainly not very good at predicting and mind reading and guessing about stocks and mutual funds. And, because of that, I became a long-term mostly mutual funds holder and a small-time dabbler in stocks [and I do mean small time].
I started reading What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars recently by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan, and found one of my beliefs about the stock market to be supported by the guy who wrote a book about losing a million dollars - that stock market traders who have been successful often have opposing strategies, and that luck can play a big role in being successful, or not, in the stock market. I had decided long ago that I didn't seem to be a 'lucky' stock marketer, and that from reading a whole bunch about people who write about stocks and stock trading were mostly making money on their newsletter. After all, why would someone spend time writing a newsletter if he [or she, but mostly he] was doing well in the stock market? I have also read many reports and research information demonstrating the results of some of the more popular stock market advisers/newsletter writers, and that the research showed that time and again, their advice of these popular writers was no more accurate or on target than trading on the S&P 500 and going for long-term holds.
I appreciated Paul and Moynihan's discussion of some of the many cliches one hears about stock market trading: "Don't discuss market positions because the pros don't", "Cut your losses short", "Don't follow the crowd. Go against the herd", and "Don't trade on hope or fear or make emotional decisions." Ad nauseum. For the gem "Cut your losses short" - how does one decide when the losses are losses? How does one define a market loss? At some point, every market decision will show a loss, so when is it time to cut and run, and when is it time to hold because that stock or fund will come back up? Certainly, many newsletter advisers I read said that one should have a minimum number in mind [or, ideally, written down] and if your position falls below that, then get out. But, how does one determine that number?
Paul and Moynihan discuss the psychological factors that go into losing as Paul decided that was the best approach for him [instead of reading the views of marketers which were essentially opposites of each other]. They claim that people "can't match the profitable performance records of the market advisory services they subscribe to because of psychological factors that prevent them from applying the analysis and following the recommendations... mostly due to psychological distortions" (p. 68) which they discuss in the second half of their book [the distortions].
I'm reading this book on the recommendation of someone else because they said that not only did it apply to stock market trading, it would apply to lots of things in one's life. So, I'm on the second part where the authors are discussing the psychology of trading and I'll find out if their points are educational in other matters of life. It'll be interesting to see!
But, just to reiterate what most of us already know, and probably already practice, two additional studies released in April and May of 2011 [and I'm sure there have been others], showed that at least 20 minutes of deep breathing and focusing on the breath can lead to mood improvement and preventing depression. However, even though many of us know about the benefits of this kind of meditative practice, how many of us do it? How many of us find it pleasurable and helpful to do it? I know that I used to practice meditation, and I stopped because I felt stressed about not being able to focus on my breathing or a mantra for more than a few seconds at a time. I just decided the side effect of stress wasn't worth it to me to continue the practice. But, perhaps starting with a few minutes each day and working up to 20 minutes [I was doing the practice in 30 minute blocks with sister and fellow practitioners at the time] might be better for me? Worth a go! What about you - do you practice some form of deep breathing or meditation? How much and how often? What do you say to yourself when you notice your mind wandering? What kinds of benefits do you notice from your practice?
The authors of the blog could be either Willow or Allan of Anima Journey.