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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Chart Patterns: After the Buy
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Bulkowski's Unhappy Changes

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Busted
Patterns
Candles Chart
Patterns
Event
Patterns
Small Patterns
Market
Industrials (^DJI):
Transports (^DJT):
Utilities (^DJU):
Nasdaq (^IXIC):
S&P500 (^GSPC):
As of 06/27/2017
21,311 -98.89 -0.5%
9,384 -58.36 -0.6%
721 -9.91 -1.4%
6,147 -100.53 -1.6%
2,419 -19.69 -0.8%
YTD
7.8%
3.8%
9.3%
14.2%
8.1%
Tom's Targets    Overview: 06/15/2017
21,600 or 21,000 by 07/01/2017
9,100 or 9,600 by 07/01/2017
710 or 745 by 07/15/2017
6,400 or 6,000 by 07/01/2017
2,525 or 2,390 by 07/01/2017

Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

A few years ago I bought my first 22" monitor. It was like looking at price action through the Hubble telescope! I could see every bull and bear constructing every candle line as it occurred. It took a while to get used to the larger visual landscape.

In September 2009, I bought another 22" monitor for my other computer, where I do my pattern recognition work, and viewing patterns on the larger screen felt weird at first.

Change. Every trader has to adapt or die.

Opening Position

When your life depends on how well you trade, any change to your routine or setup can make a big impact. It upsets your equilibrium, your balance, and if you topple over, it could mean trading losses that seem to last forever until you adjust.

The opposite approach of this is a seasoned, winning trader who makes small changes every day to stay on top of their game.

It reminds me of the movie, "Navy Seals" when Michael Biehn is driving a jeep over a bridge on the way to a wedding. Michael swings the steering wheel from side to side as if the jeep is swerving from lane to lane and yet they are moving as straight as an arrow. His portrayal is just not believable. The adjustments drivers actually make are small ones, and that is similar to the adjustments seasoned traders make each day, perhaps without noticing.

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Psst. Wanna Buy Some Shoes?

Small changes can make a big impact. For example, Basked Case Bob was under stress and that stress was giving him back pain. He went from doctor to doctor trying to find the cause.

"Take an aspirin," one doctor told him.

"Get some exercise," said another.

Picture of a spider

"Go play in the street," said a neighbor. "That will cure all of your pain."

Finally, he mentioned his pain to another floor trader. "Change your shoes," the man said, "and not with the cheap stuff. Buy an expensive pair that's made for your feet."

So Bob did, and it cured his problem.

Fast forward a few years. The stress from trading is still there, but it's his knees that are giving way this time. His trading is suffering along with his body.

"Let's run some tests, starting with a CAT scan then an MRI followed by an extensive series of x-rays," one doctor told him.

"Surgery is your only hope," said another.

"Go play in the street," said the neighbor.

Then he talked to another floor trader. "When was the last time you changed your shoes?" The trader sniffed the air and added, "and your socks, too?"

After years of wearing his shoes, the soles had worn down and they were no longer as effective as they used to be. A new pair cured his knee problem. Without the pain, his trading scaled to new heights.

Small change, big impact.

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Big Changes

Imagine what chaos ensues when a marriage breaks up. A trader is alone for the first time in years, probably in new digs because the ex got to keep the mansion as part of the settlement. The closet he or she is now living in just isn't large enough and it's overpriced anyway.

Having to find your footing under those circumstances is difficult. The inevitable trading losses increase an already stressful and uncomfortable situation.

Simple changes can make a big impact, depending on the situation. A change in an assigned parking space may sound trivial unless you were given that space as a reward. That space is a status symbol and the whole company knows it. Losing that cherished space can cause anger, resentment, depression and feelings of inadequacy.

More significant changes can cause fear, overwhelming discomfort, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. Even the smallest additional stress can seem like a major event. Traders may be unable to tolerate cold or heat, noise, and other factors with tempers becoming lit fuses leading to bombs waiting to detonate.

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Coping with Change

How can you cope with change? Here's some suggestions.

  1. Look for signs. Change causes a loss of energy and enthusiasm, perhaps depression. Be alert (the world needs more lerts ) to these types of changes. Inability to sleep or sleeping too long without feeling rested are signs of a problem as are the ones listed before: overwhelming discomfort, anxiety, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure. If you can recognize the signs, then you can take action before the problems adversely affect your trading.
  2. Take a vacation. Get out of the stressful situation and let your body relax away from the worry and stress of trading. Your adrenal glands need time to power down before they shred themselves and your body.

    The vacation need not be a long one. Just a day or two of rest, if taken often enough, might be enough to help you cope with any stressful situation. Sometimes just planning the vacation can lighten your mood.

    Picture of a bug

    You can retire at 36 like I did, but that causes additional change. Try going from collecting a steady paycheck to having none at all, not even unemployment. Perhaps many of you have experienced that already, given the economy. If so, you'll understand that walking to the mailbox used to be fun, but not now. Knowing that there could be a bill waiting inside to bite you makes getting mail a painful experience.

    What cured that feeling for me was 1) finding a new income stream (like trading), and 2) switching to electronic bill paying.

  3. Give it time. Imaging that you have moved to London where they drive on a different side of the road than the way they do in the states. A person from the U.S. driving over there for the first time causes stress and brings rote behavior (driving on the right side of the road) into conscious thought (to drive on the left). "Should I be on the right or the left?" "Which way do I go around a rotary?" But given enough time, you can learn to drive the new way. Given enough time, you will adapt to the changes in your life and things will return to feeling normal again. Given enough time, you can eat a bowling ball, but I digress.
  4. Seek help. If things are really bad then perhaps professional help is the answer.

In short, change takes getting used to.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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See Also

Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. Finagle's Law: If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.