When transforming your life on any area, you are bound to try and get some ideas along the way. Personally, I found this inspiration in a selection of books and motivational video’s but was often frustrated by the amount of times advice was given for people who clearly did not have the lifestyle I have or the same beliefs on how I wanted to live my life. What mostly frustrated me was the idea that got communicated of having and spending all of your time on your personal goal(s), which does not fit in my life of having a family, being a dad, and basically having a belief that time is actually my most valuable asset.
However, the advice is of course not all bad and in this blog-post I try to match it into the family life, for I am sure I’m not the only one that thinks having a 60-hour workweek and then spend all your spare time to learn trading isn’t beneficial for your role as partner and/or parent.
Balance between personal and family life
Let me be very clear: I think that it’s actually very, very important to have your own personal goals and motivations in life even when you have a family, be it a partner or (a) kid(s) as well. Not having your personal ‘thing’ will make you live your life for others which is not good for your emotional well-being. It is mandatory that you work on your personal development as a human being, for this is what moves you forward in life. Don’t feel guilty for demanding your space to do your own thing. Our society often brings up the romantic idea of couples doing everything together but I believe this to be very unhealthy. You need your own life to be able to share one.
The most important thing in this is to communicate with your partner and try to leave expectations behind. Expectations are often unrealistic and push you into negative vibes when they are not met. Communicate openly about which area of life has your priority at the moment, how much time you want to spend on it to develop yourself and give your partner a chance to react and think with you, instead of creating a gap between you. Doing things on your own is not a sign of a bad relationship but a strong one, you accept the other’s individuality and give them the space they need to grow.
Pockets of time
One of the most important things to work on is the amount of time you work on your personal goals and planning these moments. When working on your own stuff, you can plan pockets of time starting with 15 minutes even though this may feel very unnatural. The reason this feels unnatural is because we are used to having full-blown working days. We are accustomed to work 8-9 hours straight, with a small break or 2 in between, and then get home exhausted. When you are working on your personal goals, this is completely unrealistic and a different approach is needed.
Don’t compare your worked hours to the amount of hours you would have wanted, for this is simply not the case and will make you feel like it’s never enough. Instead, compare your worked hours (or minutes) to having done absolutely nothing. The difference between checking charts 30 minutes a day or 0 minutes a day is infinitely large. Besides, it stacks up, these ‘babysteps’ of 30 minutes equate to 3,5 hours a week and 182,5 hours a year. Compared to 0 hours, you are developing yourself in the skill of trading (or anything else), and you spend energy and time into learning this skill.
Another great example for this is sports. I have a 15-minute routine I do every single day, whether I feel like it or not, because it equates to 1h45m a week, which is the same as my weekly Kempo practice, making me practically work out twice a week instead of only once, except I have chosen to spread the second training across 7 days. The more flexible you are with these small pockets of time, the more you will notice you actually have more time to work on your personal goals then you might think.
To make this possible you need to spend time to learn planning. What works for me is to write down my final goal (for example: I am a profitable trader making an average of > 1% a day), and then work your way to lower timeframes. What do I want to focus on this month? When you are just starting out, this could be a goal like ‘I am able to recognize 10 trading patterns and understand what they mean’. Then you come down to weekly goals, what do I do this week to reach the monthly goal? You could think of ‘I study the theory behind 10 trading patterns’.
By making the goals smaller and smaller, you already allow yourself to think in working smaller pockets of time. Reading up on the theory of a single trading pattern can definitely be done in 5 – 15 minutes, even including drawing it yourself with a pencil, so there you have goals that can actually be finished within these small amounts of time!
Rest is more important than work
This may be a controversial one, but I am genuinely convinced that consciously resting is more important then mindlessly working. When you are planning anyway, make sure you reserve moments of time of 10 – 15 minutes for rest, . And I mean real rest, not watching a series, gaming, checking your phone or anything. Pure rest. Doing nothing. For some this may be a scary thought but it is what our mind really needs in this busy society to come back to it’s senses.
The reason I put this in my blog is because of the busy life with family, work, etc. it is easy to lose yourself in all the activities and obligations that get thrown at you in daily life. Because of this, it works wonders to have your 10 – 15 minutes daily of doing nothing. If the thought of doing nothing scares you, I am convinced that it is exactly what you need right here, right now. I dare you, close the computer, set an alarm and mute your phone then lie down for 15 minutes doing nothing and see what it does to you.
Because someone else spent 80 hours a week staring at charts for 10 years to become a successful trader doesn’t mean you have to as well. It works the same the other way around, there are people who became profitable traders within a year after starting from scratch and this doesn’t need to be the same for you either. Basically, there is no way of telling how long it will take for you to reach your big goal and the sooner you realize and accept that completely, the easier you can work towards that very goal. Comparison is the thief of joy, Theodore Roosevelt said and there is great wisdom in this small sentence.
There is nothing wrong with objectively comparing, but the dangers lie in what happens inside of you. It is extremely difficult to objectively compare situations and keep it at that. What happens is that you often think you are not good / fast / smart / whatever enough to do this and that energy will stop you from being the person you can be. You are exactly right the way you are and your path to your goal is yours only and you can relax in that very fact. Even when other people had or have the same goal their path is different because we as people are different.
By now I worked on my trading and associated activities for a year without having a job next to it. During this year I also had a three year old son around the house and my wife worked for about 3 days a week. I feel very responsible for being a good parent, and thus at the start I didn’t want to work at all with the kid around. Later I realized by doing this I limit myself more then I need to. So, here are some practical ideas for how to work when also having a kid at home:
- Learn your kid to play by himself. My kid did this reasonably well from the start but I often see around me that children simply need to be given proper guidance in how to do this. For example, I start drawing together and after 10 minutes or so, I tell him he can continue on his own. You can’t expect him to play by himself if he never had the example of what he can do.
- Use a timer. When I had very important stuff to do that couldn’t wait, I put on a timer for 10 – 20 minutes and explained that when the alarm goes off he can choose something we do together. Using the small goals and thinking of pockets of time as explained above this works in perfect harmony.
- Explain what you are doing. Don’t stop with ‘I’m working’, show him what you are doing, tell him why you are doing this, what kind of life this will lead to or keep it small and simple; even though money isn’t a concept for a three year old, the experiences and stuff you can do with it definitely is and you can refer that it’s made possible by the work you are doing.
I really hope this blog will give you a more realistic view on what it’s like to work on a personal goal like trading while also living the life of a family man and that it will give you a refreshing perspective on working towards your personal goals, be it trading or anything else.