You Are Not Driving This Car

I had an epiphany the other day while dealing with a family crisis. It is nothing new but the analogy hit particularly hard at the time. We think of life as if we are driving a car, but that is not the most productive way of looking at things.

What do I mean by this? Well, we go through life thinking we are in control. Like driving a car, we think we can choose exactly where we go and how long it will take. We think we can choose to turn right or left. We believe that we can come to a stop whenever we want or even to turn around and head back to where we came from.

That illusion of control may be useful in some circumstances, but real life is not like that. More importantly, that mindset is less than useful is many endeavors, including trading.

The real world is more like… well, a bobsled run. You have the ability to steer, a very little bit. You have a brake, but it will not bring things to a stop, it can only slow you down… a little bit. And things are moving fast.

Unlike with our “car thinking”, you can choose the starting point to some degree, but you have no idea where or when the end will come. Your course may be bumpy with lots of twists and turns. Or it might be smooth and straight, for the time being.

Trading is much like this. When we place a trade we often have in our mind the destination – the profits we will make. But as soon as we send the order, we are no longer in control, we have hopped in the bobsled. The difference and an important one in our favor, is that with trading we can usually get out when we want to. We can jump into another bobsled, but it is still a bobsled.

Really, you have control over one thing on this ride. That is your mental response to what is coming at you at top speed. You can be terrified or infuriated. You can choose to hate or regret every minute of the ride. Or you can choose to do your best to look out your tiny windscreen with some peace of mind. You can choose to simply enjoy the ride.

Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann has been involved professionally with the stock market for more than 15 years and specifically with derivatives for 12 of those. He started as a stock broker, but quickly moved on to options and futures trading. He spent some time as the Derivatives Product Manager for TD Ameritrade. He was the chief analyst and hedging strategist for OptionMonster. He has been an options trading educator and content provider for many years. His writing and analysis has been featured on Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, TheStreet, CNBC and internationally. He has also designed and traded option and futures strategies for prop trading firms and hedge funds as well as managed accounts.

Leave a Comment