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Trading For a Cause


A trader's New Year's resolution.


So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

-John Lennon

The bear market might not be over yet, but our quest for excellence is never ending. Traders and investors are eager to put 2008 behind them, but if you're reading this, you haven't given up. The vicious bear may have bruised you, but you're still here, looking forward to another year trading in the market.

I'm often asked about my single best trading tip. I realize what I'm being asked for is the magic formula for instant riches. Well, my friends, I wouldn't want to steal the thunder of those sending all that junk mail pertaining to quick riches, but I can definitely share with you my thoughts on how to stay the tough course of trading. You probably won't read about this elsewhere, since it has little to with trading directly. In fact, it has more to do with the motivation for success in any endeavor.

I believe, as Dr. Alexander Elder expounded in his book, Trading For a Living, that there are 3 m's to trading the market: method (market analysis), money management (risk control) and mind (psychology). Most trading coaches and trading sites address method, while neglecting the other 2 essential components.

Once you've been in the business for a while, method is the easiest part of the equation. The tough part is money management, being aware of your sabotaging emotions and finding the discipline to consistently stick to the rules and stay the course. Everyone knows you have to eat right and exercise in order to stay healthy; the question is, how?

By delving into my curiosity about how successful people get that spark to begin their journey toward success, I discovered the answer.

I looked at why ordinary people run marathons. As an individual who has never run one, I admire those who put themselves through rigorous training and showed the utmost commitment in following a grueling regimen. In a sudden "Eureka moment," I realized that most marathons are run for a cause - and most runners embrace and personalize that cause.

Often, when a runner puts herself through a tough regimen, she isn't merely doing it for the challenge and to prove something to someone; she's doing it because something has personalized the marathon for her. My sister, for example, ran her first marathon in California in memory of our mother who passed away in an accident. To honor our parents on behalf of their 3 daughters, she's since run 2 others.

From Lance Armstrong to Randy Pausch, from Edmund Hillary to Viktor Frankl, examples of personalizing challenges are everywhere. The cause becomes greater than oneself - and from that moment on, there's no going back.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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