2018 Seasonal Break and Food for Thought

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Sam & I would like to thank you for your support during 2018. We have gone through the “year of political hell” with challenging markets. Hopefully our analysis and efforts have helped you remain on top, and not overwhelmed, by the events.

FXRenew Sigals will be taking a short break over the Christmas/New Year period. We will not be issuing any Newsflow, London Open or End of Day Signals from here until January (Jan 2nd for the EOD Signals, and Jan 7th for the rest).

We would like to wish you and your families the very happiest of times for this period and look forward to serving you better in 2019 (and we have some exciting novelties coming up!). Here are some closing thoughts we’d like to leave with you.

Where has Your Heart Been in 2018?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21

Most people are attracted to trading for the wrong reason: to make money. I don’t have statistics on this, but I’m willing to bet that the “goal” of making money is probably one of the most common reasons for burnout, stress, and a whole other array of psychological disorders. With this in mind, the answer I receive by coaching students to “why do you trade?”  is of the most revealing replies, and tells me a lot about the person’s internal motives and his chances of success.

Wise men have said for centuries that “people put their heart wherever their wallet is“. Some of you, your heart is in your home, because that’s where you put your money. Is it in that car you love? Where you put your money and time reveals your priorities. The wise men from over 2000 years ago suggest how to maintain a correct perspective. Money is not something that provides happiness, wisdom or health on it’s own. Money must be exchanged for something else: a vacation, education, a gym subscription, etc.  So money must be “employed” correctly, in order to enhance our lifestyle and obtain whatever we need. In this sense, we never “own” the money, we simply “direct” it towards the best use. Sure, savings is one of the directions of our money, but so are spending, investing, debt repayment, donations.

The financial sector is naturally focused on money and all things that surround the production of profits. But as the Bible says “the love of money is the root of all evil“. Focusing on material possessions is not only a wrong perspective, but it is also foolish since possessions cannot last. A good test is this:

  • can you truthfully sit in a room, on the floor, with the door closed, and no distractions, no music, no tv, no phone, no books..nothing, and feel joyful? 
  • can you look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of the choices you’ve made and the person you’ve become?

If you can, GREAT! Keep it up! But most people fall into various traps in the fruitless search for joy. They confuse joy (which is internal, from within, with deep roots – for example the feeling which you get after doing the right thing, helping an eldery person, refraining from eating that 5th gingerbread man, donating to your preferred charity, volunteering, etc.) with happiness (based on material possessions, like the feeling you get when you buy a new phone, go to the movies, go partying in a club).

Happiness can only come in “doses”, and as such is limited and an expensive way to “emulate” joy. But think back to the after-party. The time when you’re going home after all the dancing and music and noise. If you don’t have anything to sustain you from within, you’ll always be looking for the “next dose of happiness”. And the spending spree begins.

This brings us back to “why most people want to trade”. When people can’t make ends meet, the usual things that come to mind are increasing income (how to make more) or increasing debt (take out a loan, repay it in due time). We’ve already dealt with this topic here and the main takeaway is that:

 spending less and spending in a smart way allows you to save much more and hence have more options. 

But have you noticed that we’re always talking about money? In one way or another, most considerations rotate around money and ways to make more money. So we work and we work and we work, chasing down promotions and bonuses. But to do so we need to keep our life out of balance, putting the career first and everything else second.

Since we’re in the Christmas season, let’s use some classic clichès to get the point across.

The first image is from the movie “Family Man”. Nicholas Cage is a version of Gordon Gekko, who chose an internship in London over an engagement to his fiancèe. Fast forward 13 years and he’s rich, and his heart is totally into his work. In the frame above he is just telling his colleagues on the board that they will have to work on Christmas day in order to secure the merger that everyone has been working on. The phrase that sums it up is: celebrate on the 26th! That’s when I want you to open my present , because it will have 10 zeros!

Fast forward a bit into the movie. Nicholas Cage is living the life he could have lived, had he chosen Love over Money. Still looking at what he had, instead of what he gained, he said “I feel like a better person in this suit“.

Going forward in the movie, he tries to put his new life back on the tracks of his old life. In the part above, he has just secured a new job with his old company. His considerations are as follows: “Everything will be perfect. We’re in New York city, the financial capital of the world. We will make twice as much as we did before. We will have a life that others envy”.

Now onto another Christmas Classic: A Christmas Carol.

Scrooge is talking to his nephew, who has just wished him a Merry Christmas. His reply: “Humbug! Merry Christmas? What is there to be merry about when you’re one year older and not a penny richer? How can poor people be merry?”

Ebenezer’s greatest fear was to go through life as a poor man. His values had changed, his life had changed, and his relationships were lost as his desire for profits grew.

Both these movies have, as a common denominator, a change of perspective. Two people are living their lives in the quest for money. They are already rich, yet they can never have enough. And this way of being naturally pushes away certain people form their lives, and attracts a different crowd. Then, through a privileged experience, they both find out just how cold money can be, and they see what they gave up in order to grow rich. They subsequently find out just how warm people can be, and how there is a big difference between being rich, and being joyful.

Where has YOUR heart been in 2018? Has your heart been 100% in the markets? Has your heart been 100% dedicated to trading profits? Has your heart been 100% in your work?

If it has, what have you gained? Was it worth it?

The key here is to NOT wait until you reach some financial objective before living your days differently. Dreary days are only as dreary as we make them. Start looking at what you have, instead of what you don’t have. Start putting your heart elsewhere.  When we depart from this earth, there is only one thing we can take with us, which is our soul. Don’t tear your soul apart in the search of profit. Dare to fight the worldly ways and elevate your spirit.

There’s a reason why helping others give you a warm feeling inside.

There’s a reason why altruism and gratutude are a natural cure for anxiety and depression.

We are not just flesh and blood. There is something that is more than the sum of the parts, that is probably not from this world. Let me share the latest experience that confirmed this once more to me. My fiancèe and I were walking through the town and we noticed from afar a person lying down on a bench. This was happening at around 7PM in early December so it was already dark. However, something stirred up inside me and I turned again. Something inside was telling me to pay closer attention.

As we approached the person, we noticed it was a middle-aged woman who was either homeless or in dire financial difficulty. We heard a phone ringing but the lady was not moving. She was breathing, but not responsive, and just lying on the bench on the cold winter evening. Knowing the risk of her situation, we called the ambulance because despite shouting out, the lady remained unresponsive.

The ambulance arrived and it turned out the lady had been sleeping on the bench for 3 days and we had been the first people to take notice.

The Bible says that there is a treasure we can amass in Heaven: the spirits of the people we have helped, to which we have been a blessing. Dare to have a life-giving influence on others, to seek wisdom and win others to wisdom. I guarantee that you will be filled with more joy and peace, the more you become a blessing to others and give up a bit of what you have in order to give it to those that are in need.

Seek Joy and Peace

We’re all subject to this juggling act to be honest. I’m also tempted to sit at my desk and work like a mad scientist…but at the end of the day the 80/20 rule tends to creep up on me. I’ve seen it in trading, in managing FXRenew, in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, etc.  The key is always to work smart and not hard because there will always be some problem or another, some challenge or another, and we can get sucked into a never-ending vortex.

As is says in Genesis, as humans we will all suffer frustration in our work just like the gardener is always battling with weeds to produce food. We’re not in the garden of Eden anymore and it takes hard work to live. The key is to roll up our sleeves and pace ourselves, keeping in mind that this life is a battle!

That is why we must seek, above all else, 2 things: Joy and Peace.

We spoke about Joy further so let’s proceed with Peace. Peace lets us know we’re making good choices. Peace encourages us we’re on the right track and drives away thoughts of worry, fear and anxiety. In an internet-infused culture, with a wealth of information at our fingertips, knowing if we are on the right path is essential. This is how you do it: whenever you are faced with a decision (including, but not limited to your trading decisions) check your inner person and see whether you’re at peace. It’s going to be a silent whisper…it may be a fleeting feeling until you have trained yourself to get in touch with it.

Following the path of peace will be difficult. Sometimes it will steer you away from a situation that looked great on paper. For example, years ago before joining FXRenew, I was offered a position as a trader in a small fund in Milan. They would have set me up with a nice Bloomberg terminal, 5 screens and tremendous resources. There was some nice money involved in the deal. But I did not have peace and after an entire week of soul-searching, I declined. They told me I had completely lost my mind and others would kill to have that position. Perhaps. But my path was different and for one thing, I wouldn’t have met Sam and I wouldn’t be in the position I am today, being able to share my experiences with people from around the world. I cannot know what would have happened, had I taken the alternative route. But I do know that looking back, I have no regrets.

Here are the enemies of peace. In order to fully experience how devastating they can be, I’d encourage you to empathize with each one, using your own personal experiences or feelings. Do so in a non-judgemental way. Don’t worry about the things you feel. They need to emerge if they are to be confronted and eliminated.

  • ambition: a dissatisfaction with yourself and your activities, which can distort reality since the focus is always on the next objective and never on the process.
  • anger: a destructive emotion that can destroy any initiative.
  • avarice: believing that you need certain things when you probably don’t; the feeling that what you depend on will be taken from you.
  • envy: an irrational comparison between what you have and what others have achieved.
  • pride: a need to impress or demonstrate something.

All the above can be confronted and eliminated mostly through:

  • gratitude: an uplifting mindset that shifts the focus from what you don’t have, to what you DO have. Think of the individual that put his life on autopilot in order to learn how to trade. How much did he take for granted? His wife, tolerating his obsession? His job, providing him with the possibility to actually see if trading was up his alley? His health? The food he could place on his table? The clothing he could afford to wear? How close to a self-induced depression can a person get, if led by the wrong principles?   Always be grateful for what you have, independently from what you have, because only being focused on what you don’t have is an invitation for life or fate to take something away from you, in order to teach you a lesson.
  • humility: only through humility is it possible to make true progress. For example, most traders that I’ve helped have sought for help only after a series of hard knocks. Whether it was loss of money, loss of health or extreme frustration, most traders don’t start out being humble. The market has to teach them a lesson before they open up. More in general, humility in life means that no job is too menial, no task is too small. It means letting go of preconceived ideas and being open to being wrong. It’s the gateway towards being inquisitive, as opposed to being a know-it-all.
  • self-confidence: a broad term which means you are focused on running your own race, and you believe in your capacity to overcome whatever lif throws at you, through resourcefulness. You’ll be quiet but concentrated, working away with your head down and planting the seeds of your future success, one day at a time.

Dare to be Different

The world we live in is full of traps and deceit. Proverbs 1:10-13 says “Let us lie in wait for the honest man, let us unprovoked set a trap for the innocent; let us swallow them up as the nether world does, alive, in the prime of life […] all kinds of precious wealth shall we gain […]”. The world’s way of achieving and exercizing power is about having the possibility to coerce, force, control. Military, political and judicial powers are earthly powers.

I exhort you to be different! Stand steadfast and be vigilant!  Don’t get caught up in gossip, comparisons, wrong doing or wrong thinking. Rise above it all. Take the high road. Run your own personal race. Don’t use the worldly powers. Instead lead by serving. Do the very best in every situation. Above all, keep your heart in the right place at all times and make sure it’s free of vengeance, evil, retribution. This will give you a superior perspective and allow you to make better choices.

You see, we always have a choice. We nearly always have 2 paths before us. Going back to the Old Testament for inspiration, Moses could have kept his identity a secret, living like a noble Egyptian prince! Instead, he chose the more difficult road that gave him peace. As a result, his story endures to this day and people remember him.

Over to You

It may seem strange that as traders and business owners we write blog posts that go against our own interests. We do it because we believe in leading by example. Just as we talk the talk and walk the walk in the markets, we must do so in life also. FXRenew is about helping people reach consistency in their trading, through a variety of resources.

We don’t surgar-coat the truth. We give it to you straight.

We don’t pretend to be perfect. We show you our mistakes and how we try to learn from them.

In essence, we bring you our experience as we trade the markets and attempt to improve day after day. In a similar manner, at times we feel the need to bring our life experience to you, sharing the principles that have helped Sam & myself overcome obstacles and develop resilience. May it be a reminder that there is much more to life than just trading.

But guess what? The funny thing is that all the principles that allow you to live a more balanced and healthy life, full of great relationships and joyful memories, are the same principles that help people mature as traders.

Have a Great Holiday Season, and see you in 2019!

About the Author

Justin is a Forex trader and Coach. He is co-owner of www.fxrenew.com, a provider of Forex signals from ex-bank and hedge fund traders (get a free trial), or get FREE access to the Advanced Forex Course for Smart Traders. If you like his writing you can subscribe to the newsletter for free.

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