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is it work?

i find that some days i sit in front of my computer screens and watch the prices and at the end of the day i haven't taken a trade because i haven't seen any setups that i like. at the end of days such as those i often feel as if i haven't done any work because i haven't put on a trade.

i know that i have been working because i've spent hour after hour searching for good setups but because i haven't found one i walk away from the day empty handed.

it's an interesting concept and i'm wondering what analogy would be good as a comparison? i was thinking of the gold miners and people that panned for gold who could work all day or all week and not find anything but some weeks they strike it lucky and find plenty.

i was also thinking of sales people who work only on commission. if they don't make a sale then they don't make any money but they may have worked all day trying to make a sale.

another interesting analogy with salesmen is that they may sow today the seeds that they reap tomorrow. they may do plenty of work trying to make a sale today that doesn't work out but in a year from today another sale works out that is the result of work that they did today. a trader may benefit from a similar situation where he makes a great trade in a month or year's time because of work or conditions or markets that he saw developing today.

are there any other analogies that people can think of?

also how do other people deal with the fact that they sometimes feel that they aren't working if they haven't executed a trade?
For me it is quite simple. It is not work. There are no analogies or comparisons to traditional vocations. If any, a closer analogy is to playing poker, sitting there and waiting for that special hand to play. And even with pocket aces, no sure thing that I will win that hand.
That's true Fives. I think that I agree with your comments that there are no analogies except for maybe poker. I think that with poker you sometimes end up with a knap (is that how you spell it) hand. i.e. a hand that can't be beaten - the best hand that you can get for that type of poker. For example, a royal flush with an Ace high. That would be analagous to taking a trade which immediately shoots into a profitable position without you taking any heat and allowing you to put in a comfortable buffer stop which is very unlikely to be traded through causing a loss on the slippage.

I also think that getting trades such as that are more frequent than getting knap hands at poker and for that reason trading is more rewarding (for me) than poker. Although, to date, I haven't played enough poker to make a good comparison.
In the poker world an unbeatable hand is " The Nuts ". And I agree with you Guy. But what is called playing tight, or waiting for the nuts is not going to win tournaments. And in trading, there is no sure thing, no trade I can put on and be 100% sure that it is a winner. However, the beauty of trading is the ability to adjust risk once the trade is on. NOT so in poker. Texas No Limit Holdem is a prime example of this. Once a player goes all in, thats total commitment to that play, winner takes all. Loser walks away. So the analogy I was referring to was in the sitting. A poker player waits for a reasonable hand to play and plays it. A trader waits for a reasonable probability to present itself and plays it. Trading is much more flexible than poker, hence that much more difficult.
The Nuts - that's what I was trying to think of
- thanks Fives. Any idea why it's called The Nuts?

Yes - I agree with the sitting analogy - Jesse Livermore said that it was the waiting not the trading that made him money.

When you referred to the ability to adjust risk once in a trade you reminded me of Michael Douglas' analogy of trading being like a bi-directional river and you're standing on the bank. The river is always flowing and at any time can change direction. All you can do is pick a destination (up or down river) and a time when to jump in. You risk being swept away from your destination if the river changes direction or doesn't continue where it was going.

I liked that description because it highlights the risk of not getting out before you're swept away (and presumably drowned = account wiped out).