2021 Review: A Wild Ride
And I thought 2020 was a strange year.
2021 was arguably weirder, and for a lot of people it was yet another painful year full of disruption, setbacks and restrictions.
For me, it was quite similar to 2020.
I spent most of 2021 locked away in my office working. I literally had nothing better to do – my home state of Queensland has been in recurring lockdowns all year due to the spread of this insidious plague.
And so for me, while 2021 was a frustrating year at times, and I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘fun’ year, at least I got a lot of work done – and it was my most productive (and profitable) year to date in terms of trading, investing and business.
Between forex trading, the crypto boom and moving some of my capital into stock trading and investment strategies half way through the year, I finally broke through into areas of success that I only dreamed of when I first began trading.
I’m not saying this to brag – in fact in the world of trading and investing I’m still a very, very small fish. But in terms of my level of experience as a trader, I’m quite happy with how things have unfolded over the past couple of years.
I began trading in 2017, and it did not start out well. I blew several accounts, lost a few thousand dollars, and basically started off on the completely wrong foot entirely. I was clueless, over-confident and under-educated.
But through intense study over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly confident in my ability as a trader. I trust myself now to make good decisions in the financial markets.
Not necessarily the best decisions, but good decisions. I can’t remember the last time I made a trading or investment decision that resulted in a significant loss or feeling of regret.
Over the past few years I have surrendered to my ignorance. I was humbled by the markets several times in my early months as a trader, and so I quickly recognized that I needed help and guidance.
So I read every book I could find that caught my interest, from trading to history to psychology – anything that could make me a better trader and navigator of financial markets.
I sought out good mentorship – and paid for it, too.
My education as a trader was not cheap. First I paid for it in the markets, then I paid for very good courses – from forex trading courses, to mentorship from veteran crypto traders, to a $15,000 mastermind program to learn how to build fully-automated equity trading systems with Nick Radge.
While some courses were better than others (and some were downright useless), I don’t regret a single cent spent on any of them – as they guided me towards the trader I’ve become, and I like the trader I’ve become.
I have a LOT of work left to do, sure. I’m nowhere near as skilled at trading as I want to be. But that’s what I love about trading – it’s an ever-moving target, and the meaning of success constantly evolves.
The better I get at trading, the better I can become at trading. That’s an eternal journey that will never end, and that’s what I find most exciting about the craft.
Anyway, the reason I’m sharing all of this is to inspire newer traders to seek out good guidance.
It’s true that there are a lot of scams out there – parasitic people who will take advantage of your enthusiasm to learn the skill of trading, who will sell you false solutions and false hope to quickly capitalize on your ignorance and excitement and then leave you worse off for having done business with them.
There is SOME truth to the famous saying from George Bernard’s stage show ‘Man and Superman’ when he said “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
But it’s also true that some who can, get bored and find it fun to teach; and that some who can, find satisfaction and a sense of purpose in sharing their expertise and mentoring ambitious and passionate people along the same path they took.
I wrote an article a few years ago sharing my thoughts (and experiences) in seeking out good mentorship. If you’re new to trading, or if you’ve been struggling to find your own success and meet your potential as a trader, I definitely encourage you to read that article or listen to that podcast episode. I think it’s one of the most important subjects for a new or struggling trader.
Being a teacher or mentor or guide for others is something that I find exciting myself, so I can recognize when others exhibit that same passion for sharing knowledge. Because of this, I like to think I’m a good judge of character, especially in trading coaches and mentors.
When I began trading I had a handful of mismatched skills under my belt from past lives as a games programmer, a musician, a writer, an audio engineer and a web designer.
All of these skills I’d accumulated over the years seemed useless in the realm of trading at first. But I quickly discovered that almost ALL skills you accumulate throughout life can help you to do better at almost any endeavour – if you know how to extract the right insights and practicality out of them.
For example, my experience as a web designer and my passion for writing was what inspired me to start this blog purely as a fun hobby and a way to share my organic experiences as I developed as a trader so that others who stumbled across it might learn from my mistakes (and breakthroughs).
In the beginning, I wrote about all kinds of things – from trading tips I’d picked up that helped me improve as a trader, to trading psychology concepts that helped me improve my mentality, to Pine Script coding and guides on how to code your own trading tools and indicators which helped me develop and hone my edge over the markets.
I wrote a few tutorials and guides on how to get started with Pine Script, not because I thought it would be a popular subject, but because I was just interested in it myself. But boy, did I underestimate the interest in Pine Script.
Very quickly, my site analytics showed that 90% of my web traffic was coming to my blog to read about Pine Script. And so rather than fight against the tide and try to make my blog more about trading in general, I decided to focus on Pine Script – at least for a while, until I got sick of the subject.
So far I haven’t gotten sick of it – and in fact, Pine Script education has become a full-time business for me outside of trading. I spend my days developing trading systems, managing my own trading and investments, and producing educational content for traders interested in learning Pine. And so far, business has been booming.
Years ago when I was creating mobile phone games and MMORPGs in Java in my bedroom, I never imagined that someday that skill would be used to help me navigate financial markets and build a full-time education business out of it. When I was a kid (and even when I was a young adult) I had no interest in finance whatsoever.
But as my passion for trading and understanding of financial markets has developed, and as I’ve developed as a trader, I’ve found coding to be an immensely powerful ally and tool in negotiating the markets.
And through coding I’ve managed to build systems and tools that have made me money out of the markets. Ironically I never built a game or any kind of application that made any money, but that coding skill I developed has translated into a money-printing machine all these years later.
I’ve also built a business out of educating traders on how to code their own systems and tools. And now I’m in the process of learning how to build fully-automated equity trading systems from one of the best systems traders in Australia so that someday I might be able to begin a private (or maybe even public) capital management firm.
My passion for trading led to me taking this path and committing myself to mastering myself and my understanding of financial markets.
Then my skill as a web designer and writer led to me creating this blog, then my skill at coding led to me becoming an authority figure in the world of Pine Script, and my experience at audio engineering and the drive to be creative led to building a YouTube channel and podcast that has grown into a large and passionate audience full of like-minded aspiring traders and entrepreneurs who continue to inspire me to keep pushing.
Funny enough, all of those skills I’d worked hard to develop I had written off as past life experiences, and even failures.
I’d started several novels but never finished them. I studied games programming and web design at university but dropped out. I pursued a career as a musician but never managed to gain traction. I went back to university to study audio engineering, but was forced to quit due to a chronic pain injury.
I’d tried my hand at many skills and crafts, but I’d failed to turn any of them into a meaningful career path and for a long time that made me feel depressed and like I’d wasted my entire life pursuing dreams that never came to fruition. But now here I am.
I have now somehow found myself in a position in both my trading and in business that I never expected to be.
But it hasn’t been an easy journey. It has been an exciting and inspiring one, but definitely not easy.
Late last year, TradingView released the latest iteration of their scripting language for their charting platform – Pine Script version 5.
I had already built an entire course program over the 2 years prior with over 130 lessons and over a dozen hours of content covering Pine Script v4.
When the new version of the Pine language released unexepectedly, I had to scramble to re-record ALL of my course material for the new version of the language. It took several weeks of full-time work – 10+ hour days of coding, recording, editing, no weekends off, and the continuous management of my own trading and investing and education in the background.
But now I have the Pine Script Mastery Course v2.0 published – with 150+ lessons (and counting) and almost double the amount of content planned than I made for the previous course.
Hundreds of traders have come through the program, and those who have enrolled in the most current version seem to thoroughly enjoy it.
I don’t want to jynx it, but so far we haven’t had a single bad review. In fact, all of our reviews have been 5-stars. It’s possible that there were many who didn’t like the course who simply haven’t reviewed it, but I like to think we’re doing a good job haha.
It has been a wild ride so far. I’ve gone from a broke university drop-out with a negative account balance and a $3,000 loan from my dad back in 2017, to managing close to half a million of my own capital in 2020 (and much more if you include the capital I’ve been helping family and friends manage).
I am humbled, excited and inspired from my experiences as a trader and financial market navigator over the past few years. I’ve had some excruciating downs, and some exhilerating ups. Over time I’ve found stability and confidence in my process. And I know it is only the beginning of this journey. I’m still a rookie in the eyes of the markets.
So for those of you who are new to trading, or struggling to find your feet, I hope my story can inspire you to keep on keeping on. It’s worth it. The pain, the frustration, the torment, the sleepless nights, the anger, the emotional ups and downs – it all pays off in the end once you find your balance and find what works for you.
There are thousands of ways to make money out of the markets – and if you’re creative and passionate, thousands more ways to make money OUTSIDE of the markets by utilizing your expertise as a trader to educate, inspire and encourage other traders on their journey.
My advice is not to focus on the money. Focus on your passion. Obviously the goal of trading and investing is to make money. But if you focus on the money alone, it is counter-productive to the mentality and the process that you need to employ in order to extract consistent profits out of the markets. Speaking from experience.
The more I focus on the money, the worse the decisions I seem to make. The less I focus on the money, the better my decisions seem to be. This is not to say that you shouldn’t CARE about the money – a lack of care or respect for your capital can lead to complacency and negligence (also speaking from experience).
You must find a balance between your respect for money and the power it brings you, but also the elimination of fear and greed from your financial decisions.
For many traders this means having a side-hustle outside of trading so that your sole income isn’t determined by the markets – which are unpredictable, unforgiving and often uncooperative.
Even the best traders in the world don’t KNOW how much they’re going to make this year. They know they have a significant chance to be profitable, they might even be able to estimate with a high degree of accuracy how much their system might return, but they don’t really know. Because no one really knows what tomorrow will bring.
If you’re skilled and experienced enough as a trader, and you have enough capital under management, maybe this doesn’t matter. Maybe even a bad year for you will mean you can still pay all of your bills and living expenses through your trading.
But for most retail traders, this is a dangerous game to play.
I have definitely discovered my trading results have improved since I began my business as a trading programming educator.
A good month in the markets means I grow my wealth, my net worth increases, and my opportunities increase. A bad month in the markets means my wealth growth consolidates, it pauses for a little while, but my business pays the bills so I am happy to wait it out – and I don’t make any poor decisions due to the emotional fight-or-flight pressure.
When I first began trading I didn’t anticipate this problem. I thought that once I mastered trading, I’d never need another income source. I’d never need to “work” again. I’d just sit in front of charts all day pressing buttons and the money would roll in.
While SOMETIMES that is my experience, most of the time it is not. Most of the time I am either doing nothing, or battling my way out of a drawdown, slowly chipping away at new equity highs. And sometimes I have week after week of windfall gains through a winning streak, or a crypto boom, or a bullish stock market run. But that is rare.
For me at least, trading is a long-term game. You CAN treat trading as a short-term game, where it’s all or nothing, where every single day you are pushing and trying to hit home run trades and increase your capital exponentially. There are stories of traders who pulled this off for years on end and became incredibly wealthy.
But for me, I’m realizing that my strength as a trader is in being patient, in the slow and steady route, in GROWING my capital sustainably and carefully – not in being overly aggressive and risky and laying it all on the line day after day like a gambler or adrenaline junkie might.
I once said that trading “is a competitive game of perpetual personal evolution with uncapped reward potential.” It has been two years since I realized that, and I still stand by that statement.
Trading is also a business.
If you are a trader, you are an entrepreneur. You don’t have safety ropes. You are responsible for the outcome of your decisions. Your staff is your capital. Your setbacks are your expenses. You’re the boss, the CEO, the director and the master of your own financial destiny. This comes with great responsibility and great pressure. Manage your expectations and your business wisely.
Today’s blog post was a bit of a ramble. I just wanted to reflect on the year that went by. It was a crazy one for all kinds of reasons. The entire world is in turmoil the likes we haven’t seen for generations, the markets are incredibly volatile, and the future is as uncertain as it has ever been.
But for me, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the ride.
It has made me a stronger person and a better trader.
I personally look forward to 2022 and the challenges it will bring. I know it will be tough. It might even be a setback depending on how markets react to the rising inflation in a stagnant world economy and the decisions central banks make to stave off the inevitable financial disasters heading our way.
There are only bad decisions to be made from here in terms of monetary policy, and smarter people than I are worried about what’s around the corner as a result of the past 2 years of unprecedented economic intervention throughout the pandemic.
But whatever happens, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey as a trader and investor, to improving my skill as a wealth manager and accumulator, and learning new ways to express my edge in the markets.
And of course, I’m excited to share that journey, and any insights I have along the way, with you.
As always, best of luck with your trading.
I wish you all the best for 2022, and I hope this year is your best year yet.