The Difficult Nature of Success

Find out why it is challenging to crack the code of success in life and within financial markets.

Introduction – success in life and within financial markets

Success is a subjective concept. For one person, success may mean generating a six-figure income per month, while for another, it might imply having just enough to afford a cozy wooden house somewhere in the Scandinavian forests. Nevertheless, there is a common denominator – the purpose; in other words, the end-goal, the ultimate mission, the summit of the mountain, the beak of the eagle. The purpose, combined with the vast set of actions that should be undertaken, equals the very subjective “success” we are discussing..

Something that might seem cliché but is logically sustainable is the response you often receive to the notorious question, “What is the definition of success?” when posed to top-tier businessmen, prominent political figures, and high-achieving athletes. The answer is: hard work and consistency. It sounds primitive and straightforward, yet trust me, the rabbit hole goes much deeper than originally thought.

What is hard work?
How do you maintain consistency?
Why are we discarding the notion of patience?
Isn’t discipline a part of the equation as well?
Then, what about the courage, the ultimate “dare”?
And the sacrifices that should be made?
Risks, pain, failure, confusion, indecisiveness?

Indeed, there are several ingredients to blend in if we desire to prepare the cocktail of “success”.

In the realm of financial markets, where there are no boundaries to what could be accomplished and to what extent, success means one thing: cracking the code of consistent profitability in the long-term spectrum. Why is it so complicated to attain such? Because of the enemy. And the enemy is YOU.

The enemy in the mirror

Time for some neurobiology.

How do we build addiction towards something, no matter good or bad?
Through the assistance of the dopaminergic pathway. Imagine your brain has a happy button, and every time you do something enjoyable or satisfying, like eating delicious food or playing a game, your brain presses that button. Dopamine is like the reward/ pleasure juice that squirts out when the happy button is pressed. Now, let’s say you discover something super fun or rewarding, like playing a video game. Every time you play, your brain hits the happy button, and you get a burst of dopamine. It feels great! Your brain notices this and says, “Hey, let’s do that again”.
So, you keep playing the game, and every time you do, your brain releases more dopamine. Over time, your brain gets used to this extra dopamine, and you might need to play the game more to feel the same level of happiness. This cycle can lead to addiction, where your brain craves the activity that triggers the dopamine release, even if it’s causing problems in other parts of your life.
In short, addiction and dopamine are like a loop – you find something that makes you happy, your brain releases dopamine, and you keep doing it to get that happy feeling again and again.

From a logical standpoint, if we are able to create a loop and get addicted to playing video games or eating junk food, we can employ the same mechanism to develop an attachment toward productive activities in life, such as working out, reading books, and staying focused on work. However, we often refrain from doing so. The reasoning behind this hesitancy lies in instant gratification and the reluctance to leave our comfort zones.

Living in an era of high-speed internet and wide availability of goods and services at the click of a finger, our brains have been wired towards achieving the desired element with little to no effort. In our example, if playing video games releases more dopamine – in other words, makes us feel better – why should we burden ourselves with complex tasks such as learning how to play the piano or focusing towards building a multi-billion corporation? In short, nihilistic and hedonistic tendencies get indoctrinated into our mind and force us to crave quick and easy pleasure that requires limited energy.

Thanks to this radical and impulsive approach, we are often unwilling to put in years of work and consistency to acquire and maintain the necessary skill set, accumulating the experience needed for success within financial markets. The cause, once again, is the appetite for instant gratification, leading to impatience.

Impatience and false anticipations

In the five years of my practices so far, I can use my fingers to count the number of individuals that have been genuinely interested in producing a serious work output with the purpose of learning the mechanics of financial markets and taking time for constructing a strategy that would help them orient through the boundless maze.

It is perceived as a normality to study and exercise for 4-5 years to become a registered nurse, a dentist, a lawyer, or an engineer. All of these professions are rather complex, involve various stages of undertaking, demand accumulation of experience, and embed within themselves a high degree of responsibility. On the contrary, when it comes to trading, the mass majority thinks that it is totally acceptable to conduct studies and research for a couple of weeks or months before investing money into the market. Evidently, what could be better than being present in the comfort of your home and making money with the aid of your phone? However, if you approach this question from a rational standpoint, you will realise that, had it been as easy as it sounds, everybody would have done so and succeeded.

Recently, I had a very deep conversation with this one guy who tried his best to provide constructive arguments that supported his negative view of the realm of trading within financial markets. His initial view was, “I believe it to be a fugazzi since I invested $200 into the foreignexchange market and lost all of it”.

Following through, I asked him a couple of questions which he could not address in an articulate manner. The questions were:

  1. Based on what did you invest the $200? What were your anticipations?
  2. What financial instrument were you trading and why?
  3. Was $200 all you had or did it account for only a small proportion of your total trading capital?
  4. Did you have any experience before investing the amount or you based your confluence on the word of mouth?
  5. What technical and fundamental elements were supporting your investment idea?
  6. When and where were you planning on taking profits at best or getting liquidated at worst?

I could have carried on with further questions, but decided to stop and hear out his arguments. What I got as a reply was, “I did not take it that seriously. My friend told me to buy this one crypto coin and I proceeded with doing so. I was staring at the screen the whole time and getting irritated upon the price moving against my bias”.

Let’s try to pause for a second and link the above-interpreted example with what I discussed earlier regarding the hard work and time required to become a healthcare provider, a qualified athlete and so forth. Could we imagine the same person saying “I failed to remove a wisdom tooth of this one friend after consulting with a guy that I know on the phone, and now I think that the whole industry of dentistry is a scam”? Surely not, since it is impermissible to conduct dental operations without a valid qualification. On top, nowadays, no sane person on Earth would risk letting a newbie, even worse, a nonregistered individual to pull out a wisdom tooth of his/her.

On the contrary, no one and nothing could stop you from signing up through any brokerage firm available online and starting your journey within financial markets. Thus, it leads to one thing: action with no further ado.

Two things could be highlighted here: impatience and false expectations. Surely, had it been as simple as reading a couple of books and watching a few videos before proceeding with clicking BUY and SELL buttons and printing money, what would have been the purpose of doing anything else in life but this?

I am not blaming anybody. It is extremely difficult to find balance in the age of stimulation and overconsumption. In a world where we are able to get anything at a click of a finger, no one desires stepping outside of the zone of comfort and putting in deep work. Instant gratification makes us impatient and kills our drive. This, in turn, forces one to seek an easier way out.

That is when online gurus step into the game and further distort the image of the industry. By bragging and boasting with expensive watches, designer clothing, exotic cars, lush holiday locations, they are able to trick masses into believing that success within the world of trading could be achieved with little to no effort input. Making unrealistic promises, they are able to attract audiences into benefiting from the services they provide. Surely, if you are made to believe that $100 could be turned into $10,000 in a few weeks with the help of such gurus, why would you even think about putting in the deep focus and learning the skill yourself? Is it not more convenient to copy somebody else and put the blame on him/her once and if something goes wrong?

Again, what is the motto here? False expectations.

To summarise, nothing that is worth fighting for in life comes easy. Empires are not built in a day. They are constructed through the assistance of executive power, discipline, patience, and a big dab of realism. Hence, do not expect that you will succeed in the market with a few weeks of experience and $150 in the trading account. It takes an unfathomable amount of practice and time to reach the doors of consistent profitability in the long run.

A deviated approach

A quick poll. Which one would you go with?

  • A) A Rolls-Royce
  • B) A Rolls-Royce + a box of outdated chocolates
  • C) A Rolls-Royce + a box of outdated chocolates + a t-shirt that is torn apart
  • D) A Rolls-Royce + a box of outdated chocolates + a t-shirt that is torn apart + a second-hand smartphone from 2014

Notice that, the more the objects, the less attractive the proposal. Surely, you would not devaluate the shiny nature of the offer that constitutes a Rolls-Royce by accepting materials of low quality on the side.

What is the motive here?
Less is more. In other words, quality is over quantity.

Unfortunately, minimalism is losing popularity nowadays. The interior of eight out of ten cafés out there is spoiled with a vast quantity of objects, every second flower bouquet is stuffed with an abundance of decorations and gloss, almost every gym influencer proposes a bizarre set of exercises that detaches from the traditional way of doing things. In short, quantity has a hold of quality to a big proportion.

Financial markets are complex, and they lack boundary. There are no limits to what could be done and how much could be made. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of securities to opt for and trade. There are tens of instruments that could be utilised in conducting technical examinations. There are tens of economic events on a daily basis, most of which have a moderately significant effect on price movement. To put it briefly, there are no limits and no rules.

Wait a second. What is a “rule”? Is it something subjective as well or it is objectively set in stone and followed? Are there any limitations to your day-to-day activities in the modern age? Yes and no.

You do not have to go to a concert or a karaoke bar to listen to music; you have streaming platforms with millions of tunes.
You do not have to get ingredients and cook; you have food delivery platforms available 24/7.
You do not have to go to a cinema; you have video-streaming platforms with tens of thousands of TV shows and movies.
All of these could be done non-stop and at any time desired.

Y: “Does it mean that we have to indulge in the above-orchestrated activities on a constant basis?”
M: “Evidently, not.”
Y: “Who is going to stop us then?”
M: “Ourselves.”
Y: “How?”
M: “By setting self-imposed limitations and rules.”

Hence, in this manner, the notion of “deviated methodology” stands for a distorted and complex approach. I recommend sticking with the rule of “less is more” and setting limitations upon yourself regarding the life in general, and within financial markets. You do not have to trade every single instrument, analyse every single timeframe, utilise every single analytical tool in order to identify good trade opportunities and benefit from them.

All in all, quantity is not directly proportionate to a high degree of success. Using every single machine in the gym at one go does not mean you will look like Arnold in his 30’s overnight the same way that wearing an abundance of accessories won’t make you look like a style icon. Analogously, entering plenty of transactions per day won’t make you any richer. All three instances have one common denominator: quality will always be over quantity.

Greed – the ultimate animal instinct

Self-control is tough; yet it is the only useful weapon in the face of greed. By hiding unwanted monsters in the shelf, we are neither liberating ourselves from them and nor learning how to embrace them. Implying, sooner or later, those monsters will escape the cage and continue chasing us. Greed is dangerous. I have witnessed successful people make distorted decisions because of it and suffer severe consequences. More, I have experienced it myself at early stages of my practices. Greed is like stimulation. The more you consume, the more you want. If we are talking about money, the more we make, the more we desire. That is why the house is always the winning side in the world of casinos. If the slot machine generates an initial $50, there is chance to carry on playing and make another $50, or $500. Either way, the probability is low and the odds are stacked against you. Meaning, there is more of a chance that you will master quantum physics in a day than make huge returns from the slot machine on a regular basis in the long run.

Concerning trading/investing, it is ultimately crucial to know when to push the brakes and stop. A winning transaction helps release a considerable amount of endorphins and dopamine, which may lead to over-trading and over-risking in attempts to make more returns, which is the total opposite of the systematic approach that should be taken.

Similar to what discussed in the preceding subchapter, a list of limitations and rules should be noted down and obeyed to.

Altering the mental framework

Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains are flexible and agile. We can shape our beliefs and associations, and encode them into the harmony. With that being said, I want you to acknowledge, or at least try to acknowledge, the following, and embed it all into your mind:

  1. Reaching the doors of success requires years of experience, hard work, patience, and continued optimisations.
  2. Progress is not linear; thrilling ups are always followed by inevitable downs.
  3. It is impossible to succeed without sacrifices; hence, set a list of rules and adhere to them.
  4. You will not become a consistently successful specialist at what you are doing over the course of a night; it is going to take years.
  5. Greed will lead you towards the gates of despair and failure.
  6. Less is more; focus on the quality rather than on the quantity.
  7. Have realistic expectations regarding everything in life.

Napoleon Hill, who is one of my favourite authors, introduces the law of “hypnotic rhythm” in his book “Outwitting the Devil”, and describes it as something that helps create permanency in everything, and solidifies one’s leading though-habits and physical habits into harmony. Implying, if you bite your nails today and tomorrow, there is a big chance that you will form up a cycle and continue biting your nails on a constant basis unless you have enough courage to break through the walls of this habit and get rid of it.

Conclusion – lessons to derive

Earlier in the report, I have noted that YOU are the sole enemy that is creating mental and psychological barriers that keep you away from reaching the top of the mountain. After reading through the paper, I believe you could see and sense how everything is in your hands but yet you tend to procrastinate, detach from the focus, indulge in counterproductive activities, have false expectations, and are unable to put in hard work and establish consistency regardless of the fact that capabilities are unlimited. Think about it for a second: if you are able to read and understand this article, that means you are a healthy representative of the humankind with a rationally-functioning mind. Also, you are probably reading this on an electronic device that is connected to the Internet, and you are doing so while laying on the sofa with a cup of warm tea or coffee right beside you. All of this emphasises that you are ahead of the mass majority at all endeavours of your life. What and who is stopping you from grinding in the destination of the ultimate purpose if not yourself?
Fight the enemy, defeat the laziness, build a laser-sharp focus, and get to work.

All in all, to wrap everything up, let me list some of the key elements that are both detrimental and helpful for achieving success in the realm of trading that we have discussed throughout the article.

Success is difficult to attain and maintain because of the following:

  1. Instant gratification
  2. False expectations
  3. Impatience
  4. Lack of will – psychological and mental – to put in work
  5. A distorted approach
  6. Greed

Success could be achieved and sustained through:

  1. Patience
  2. Sacrifices
  3. Discipline
  4. Determination
  5. Realism
  6. Faith

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The Difficult Nature of Success

Find out why it is challenging to crack the code of success in life and within financial markets.