Weekly Insights: When to Quit Your Day Job

When to Quit Your Day Job


What are some clues that you might be one of the fortunate few who could succeed at being a full-time trader? I will offer some guiding questions for you to consider shortly, but first I would like to address an issue that you may be pondering already.

I have never attempted to be a full-time futures trader. By full-time, I mean focusing only on trading futures and using the realized profits for my living expenses. In my case, that would mean no analytical service, no custom consulting, no educational writing–all of which I am doing now. Since I have never tried to make a living only by trading futures, I cannot tell you whether I would be successful or not. The reason I have never attempted to trade futures full-time is that I truly enjoy the communications aspect of being a market analyst and a trading educator and mentor. I hope that those of you who have talked with me or emailed me would agree that I do really enjoy discussing markets with other traders. I do know that if I were to attempt to be a full-time futures trader, it would not be easy, despite my experience and knowledge.

Now, on to a few questions to ask yourself if you think you might be ready to trade futures full-time:

  • Are you a successful part-time trader? You will need to be successful at trading futures on a part-time basis before you think about moving into the full-time trader ranks. Do not be fooled into thinking that trading futures on a full-time basis will allow you to spend more time to cure your part-time trading ailments. In other words, do not say to yourself: “If only I could spend more time trading markets, I could have more success than I have had just trading ‘one-lots’ here and there.”
  • Do you have enough money available to live on when (yes, when not if) you hit a streak of losing trades? A losing streak will inevitably occur–and probably sooner rather than later. And I do not mean a losing streak of two weeks, but more like a stretch of poor performance of up to six months, or longer.
  • Do you have the psychological stamina to be a full-time futures trader? Quite frankly, most people do not. Can your psyche (not to mention your pocketbook) handle six months of mostly losing trades?
  • Will your immediate family members support you–even during a prolonged rough stretch of trading? Believe it or not, this is an extremely important question. For example, if your spouse does not support your decision to trade full-time, then you are likely doomed to failure. The pressure of having to produce winning trades and knowing that your spouse is skeptical of your efforts is almost
  • Relatedly, will you be able to uphold your family or other important responsibilities even during a rough trading stretch? Or will you brood and kick the dog when he happens to cross your path?

I think you will agree with me that those are tough questions to answer.

One more thing: I do have many readers that are full-time traders but who fall into a different category than what I described above. These are people who have enough money to trade futures on a full-time basis–even if their trading profits alone will not support their lifestyles. These are individuals who already have significant amounts of money derived from means other than trading futures. Also, I have many readers who are now full-time traders, and that have retired from another profession and want to spend the “autumn of their lives” anywhere but in a rocking chair, and especially in a field that is challenging to them. Again, they, too, have other means of income in addition to futures trading profits.


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