Seek Balance or Suffer Burnout: Life’s better with some breathing space between you and the market

Brad Jelinek Article Leave a Comment

Aaron here, I’d like to give a real quick intro to this weeks contributing author…

Burnout is a genuine threat to traders at all levels of the game. Although we often feel like we’re 10 foot tall and bulletproof, the truth is, continuous nights of 5 hours sleep and relentless study will catch up with us in the long run.

Keyword there being ‘long run’ – and that’s exactly how you should approach trading – as a marathon, not a sprint. As cliché as it sounds, there’s no hiding from reality.

Returning to the CWT platform for a second time is futures trader, Brad Jelinek (EP 026) to enforce this message, and to get you thinking about ways in which you could indirectly improve your own trading.

As you’re about to read, Brad went hard straight out of the gate, a few years later he suffered the toll of burnout – both psychically and mentally. With little to no choice, but to adapt a balanced lifestyle for the purpose of longevity, we can now learn from his experiences to avoid similar costs through this thought-provoking piece…

I’ll now pass you over to Brad.

My decision to become a trader was never one that I had to spend a lot of time on. From the get-go there was never a plan B – I knew I wanted to do this for a living, and put all my energy towards making it a reality.

At the beginning, there were several things on my mind: the prospect of financial freedom, playing a game for a living, and being excited to go to work each day for myself.

After spending the last 16 years trading (4 in high school/college and 12 professionally) the things on my mind have shifted quite a lot. If you ask me why I do it now, my list would include new things like; personal growth, life balance, and cultivating emotional detachment from my trading results. This shift was part of a natural process, that became necessary in order for me to maintain this profession for as long as I wanted to continue.

In my early 20’s a typical trading day went something like this:

  • Drive 45 minutes to the office.
  • Sit at my screen for 8 to 10 hours.
  • Drink a cup of coffee every few hours.
  • Do an intense workout after I left.
  • Drive 45 minutes home.
  • In the evening, I’d watch recordings of my screen and plot the trades by hand.

I was so passionate about the whole process that I could think of nothing else. This full throttle effort helped me attain some of the success I was looking for, but like most things in life…

“The approach that gets you to one level won’t get you to the next.”

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I had severe neck and back pain, and was getting sick for over a week, once or twice a year. I also began to notice how emotionally painful it was to enjoy a lot of success with a particular strategy, only to see the market change and force me to adapt what I was doing.

I’d often come home on a Friday after work and just go straight to sleep. I had little interest in social engagements, simply because I was burned out from what I put myself through. The fact was I needed to figure out a way to creep new habits into my day, so that I could move in a more sustainable direction with trading and life.

After my eighth year trading, I started to take action on a new way of doing things. I got permission from my firm to work remotely, so I could walk to work and quit the daily commute. I began meditating off and on. I also made sure to get away from my desk and walk outside during the day.

Fast forward another four years, and I’m now working from home at a standing desk, meditating twice per day, working out everyday, plus adding yoga and stretching to my weekly routine. I’m also getting at least an hour of walking in every day. Part of this growing process was to realize that I would miss moves some days and that’s okay. I would rather do this every day for a decade, than burnout in an attempt to catch a few extra trades.

This lifestyle has become equally as important to me as my trading. At the end of the day, my trading results aren’t the only thing that make me feel accomplished. How I live and experience each day matters. And in addition to my trading process I now have a daily routine that involves a mix of physical, emotional, spiritual, and social events. This more balanced life, has in turn, made me a smarter and more adaptable trader.

This may seem like a luxury you can’t afford.

…to work less and spend more time balancing yourself. Especially if you already have limited time to make trading work, and you aren’t seeing the results you want. But experience has shown me, that a balanced lifestyle creates more space for me to work smarter, and get more done in less time. My level of focus is much greater when I sit down to review trades and I suffer less from emotional hangovers.

All traders know how it feels to be stuggling and have a hard time getting out of bed to face the next day. The specific routine each trader chooses has to work with their situation, but being laser focused for a shorter amount of time has proven to be a better approach for me. Our job is not like other jobs where X amount of effort, equals X amount of progress. When it is busy we work more, when it is slow we learn to step away and review our process. Learning to preserve energy and work in a focused manner is a skill worth pursing. That is the reality of this job.

I still have some very tough times trading that trigger negative emotions, but it’s a lot easier to deal with them knowing that I have built a system of checks and balances around me. I think each person has a unique, optimal routine that fits them. Most people don’t have to get to the end of their ’emotional rope’, like I did, to begin the journey of creating more balance. It all begins with the desire to make a change, and acknowledging the current path isn’t one you want to be on, day-in and day-out. The one thing we all know for certain is the market will continue to test us with changing conditions, but it’s up to us to be ready for that inevitability.

If you’d like to view FREE daily videos of the trades I saw, and how I played them – visit:

– Brad

About the Author

Brad Jelinek


Brad is a futures trader based in Chicago, a life long learner, and an advocate of using trading to foster personal growth.