Initiated by a casual chat with someone at work, Tobi Reading first discovered Forex trading just three years ago. Fast forward to today, and he is now a full-time trader thanks to an inspirational journey that has seen him also amass over 25k followers on Instagram.
In this exclusive chat with TraderLife's Chris Johnston, Tobi tackles our Trader Dozen - 13 questions intended to discover the motivations, inspirations and strategies of top traders. Here he discusses his many ups as well as downs, and how working through the latter in a consistent manner has got him to where he is today.
Discover how that hard work wasn’t only on the charts - he also focused on his mindset, something which he says was actually causing his trading to suffer until the ‘penny dropped’. In this honest account, Tobi takes us through his journey and provides many snippets of advice for aspiring traders.
I personally like to think of failure as both my best and worst friend when it comes to the markets.Tobi Reading
1. Can you remember when and why you got into trading?
I can - it was mid/late 2015, I was working as an assistant accountant for a large company at the time. I had reached a point on my career path where it was either commit to taking 3/4 years of accountancy exams or change careers completely and start over in another field. I was completely lacking in any motivation or direction at the time. I suppose I was just kind of drifting through life on auto pilot.
Trading actually came into my life quite randomly, and it quickly turned things upside down. I found out about it during a casual chat with one of the new temps at work, his name was Ali. He was a really ambitious, energetic guy and we used to bounce off each other a lot during the day, talking about our goals and the future. During one of those chats he briefly mentioned that he was learning to trade Forex and that I should look into it too. Long story short, I did exactly that, and three years later here we are! Ali and I have stayed in contact since, and we still bounce ideas off each other from time to time.
At first I didn't really know what to make of Forex, or trading in general. I think I just saw it as a potential vehicle to get me away from the office job and perhaps some explore other options. I treated it as more of a side hobby and didn't fully understand the potential. However after a while, and once I started really getting my teeth into it, I started to develop a real passion for it all. The chart work, constant trial and error and personal growth.... it was very addictive, and I started to feel that sense of direction I'd been lacking for a long time.
It was around the six month mark that I realised I needed to start taking things more seriously. I started seeking out mentors, studying and reading as many books as I could. I began spending hours and hours on end in front of the charts every night after work. Even at work, I'd often have my charts up just trying to learn as much as I could. I just became obsessed with it all. I can remember my sleeping pattern really started to deteriorate at that point and it wasn't long before I'd discovered my love for coffee!
So to answer the question of why I got into trading; it was simply to make money and to get away from my job. But the reason I continued trading was for the love of the game, the direction and drive it gave me, and the potential freedom it could provide for me.
2. What’s your trading style and how do you fit this into your other life activities? Do you trade around your life or does your life/job fit around trading?
My trading style is very relaxed. I'm currently averaging around 6-8 trades a month, so lots of screen time during the day isn't a necessity. I sit down in the evening at 10pm and create my daily watchlist for the next day, setting any buy/sell orders where required. I then check my charts again at 6am and, if I'm waiting for a live entry, I may check back once or twice throughout the day. I also spent a fair amount of time reviewing trades and back testing, but I guess you could say those are the 'core hours'.
This style of trading is perfect for my current lifestyle because I'm still holding down some hours at a day job and it means I'm rarely having to access my charts during work hours. I know from experience that trading at work (whilst trying to not get caught) is very stressful and just not sustainable. My current trading style mainly requires the use of buy/sell orders too (instead of live entries) which again means I'm not having to wait around for entries with my boss trying to look over my shoulder!
3. From Instagram, you seem to have a consistent work rate. What motivates you to constantly work on improving your trading and enjoy what you’re doing?
There are few big motivators for me. One of the main ones I guess is the fact that I just generally enjoy the whole process. Scanning for set ups, executing trades, reviewing them, refining the process and improving. I also love tracking my progress and seeing how much of a positive impact that process has on the end result, that's really motivating.
Another big one is the thought of the alternative. I think about the position I used to be in, as I described in the first question. It's kind of weird but I sometimes try to deliberately replicate that same anxious 'lack of direction' feeling by mentally putting myself back into that state of mind, and then comparing that to how I feel now.. That often makes whatever hurdle I'm facing seem pretty insignificant.
I also set myself goals and hold myself accountable to them which is a massive part of it. I've actually reached a place in my life now where I'm more worried about letting myself down than letting others down. I really hate having to put a strike through a goal that's not been achieved for the day.
But to be transparent, I'm not always 100% motivated in the moment to do these things. Sometimes I really don't feel like doing my trade reviews or trade journaling. But for me it's the bigger picture that gets me out of bed, or gets me to my computer to get it done. I’ve witnessed firsthand the positive impact of being consistent, but I've also experienced the negative impact that missing just one trade review can have. I've learned that often how you feel in one moment is irrelevant. It's not realistic to expect yourself to be 100% motivated all the time. What's more powerful is acknowledging how you feel, thinking about the bigger picture or goal, and doing it anyway.
4. Throughout your journey, are you able to pinpoint a moment or a routine that you start doing that then made all the difference to your trading and/or life?
The first real trading breakthrough for me was probably whilst reading 'Trading in the Zone' by Mark Douglas. I had for months and months struggled with certain elements of trading that I was just putting down to my strategy and my analysis. When reading that book I realised that so many of my problems were actually being caused by my own mindset and psychology. I can almost remember that exact 'oh shit!' moment when the penny dropped. It was the first time I had ever heard anyone speak about those elements of trading. That book seriously affected the way I approached the markets and it's always the first book I recommend to new traders when they ask me.
In terms of making a difference in my life, the absolute biggest breakthrough for me has been understanding the power of gratitude - learning how to be appreciative of everything in my life. I was for so long basing my happiness on particular outcomes: 'when I achieve that, I'll be happy' or 'when I get to that point in life, I'll feel so much better'. But by learning how to be grateful for all that I have now showed that me that I can be happy in the present moment but still continue to strive to be better. This was a real game changer for me
5. I’m presuming that you’ve come up against failure in the past. What has been your approach on getting past these failures and has this evolved since?
I think we all know that if you want to be a trader then failure is going to be a huge part of your journey. I personally like to think of failure as both my best and worst friend when it comes to the markets.
For me, 2016 was pretty much jumping from failure to failure. I sometimes felt like I was just going backwards. It was very much a period of huge setbacks and the odd small breakthrough, but it was definitely the year that defined me as a trader. And that's not because I achieved any kind of success, but it's because I pretty much achieved none and yet I chose to continue. I think at that point I had proved to myself that I was in this for the long haul and nothing was going to get in the way.
Failure is simply part of the process to becoming a consistent trader and it's going to come and go throughout everyone's journey. The important thing is that you do not lose the lesson. This has been something I've lived by when it comes to trading and life in general. There's a quote I love that says 'I either win or I learn' and this is the mindset you have to adopt in my opinion. The only way I was able to overcome consistent back to back failures in 2016 was because I had shifted my mindset to see them as lessons, and that the money I lost from them was simply the cost.
6. What would you put your success down to? Just being lucky, your intellect and smarts or just consistent hard work? Or possibly a combination?
I don't consider myself to be successful, yet. I'm still on a journey of my own and still experiencing many of the highs and lows that all traders do. I suppose you could say I've experienced some level of trading success in the past year or so though, which has been really rewarding yes. But I put all it down to the consistent work I've put in and the belief I had in myself during those tough times. The times where there was no real proof that I would ever see any success from trading. I had a vision of where I wanted to be and I'd accepted that everything else in the middle was/is just part of the process.
Do I think I've been lucky? I do, actually. But maybe not in the way most would read the question. I consider myself lucky because I am healthy and able to pursue my goals. I consider myself lucky because I have a supporting family etc. But I don't consider myself lucky to be seeing some level of success in the markets. If I did then I would have to consider myself unlucky for not seeing success in the first few years, which simply isn't true. Any consistent success in this market is earned, there's no luck involved.
I don't consider myself to be unusually smart or intelligent. I don't think either of those traits are essential to succeed as a trader. What is required though, as you've mentioned, is consistent hard work. The kind of hard work that less than 1% of people would be willing to put in over a long period of time. I actually remember at one point I started having mini panic attacks during the day because I was sleeping so little at night. I was working long hours during the day so this was the only time I had to get that chart work in... and I don't want it come across like I'm bragging about that, because it really wasn't healthy, but that's an example of how much work I had to put in and how much I really wanted it.
I also don't think I could have continued through a lot of the rough patches without an actual love for trading. I don't know if I would have stuck it out if trading was still just seen as a vehicle for me. Others might not agree but the fact I actually enjoy the day to day stuff keeps me jumping over the hurdles and pushing on.
The truth is, anyone can decide to trade, but what separates the consistently successful traders from the unsuccessful traders is the willingness to commit to the long game and the decision that literally nothing will get in the way of that end goal.
7. What do you think sets you apart from others who are trying to be successful?
That's a tough question because it's not really about what separates me from those trying to be successful that matters to me, especially when it comes to trading. I know that may sound a little strange but I'm just tunnel vision on my own goals and in my mind it's really just me vs me. In trading you're definitely your biggest competition and often your worst enemy... you really just have to stay invested in trying to become a better version of yourself.
8. What advice do you have for those who fail, give up or never get started? For either trading or something else in life.
I think all three of those stages could be completely different - but I'll try to cover each:
People that have failed: Failure sucks, but it's all part of the journey to finding the right path. It rarely ever feels like it at the time but you have to picture the version of yourself that has achieved that goal and use that to keep pushing. Decide that it's already happened and everything else in the middle can be dealt with, it's all just part of the process. Also, do not lose the lesson in the failure. Study it in depth and turn it from a failure into a learning experience. The more you do this, the more you'll start to see failure in a different light. And once you fully accept that failures will come and go, providing lessons as they do, there's not much that can stop you.
People that have given up: This is a tough one because it really does depend on the reason for giving up. Some people pursue trading and others things for reasons that are not strong enough to survive the lows, and will simply never make it because their 'why' is not a big enough reason to want to continue... it's brutal but it's true. However, these traders are often filtered out within the first few months because they are just seeking the short-term gratification.
However if a person deep down wants to be a trader but is finding it really tough, or is struggling with the low points etc, then my advice would be simple: it's worth it. I know that the low points can feel never ending, and it feels like you'll never get your head above water.. I've been in that place and it's horrible. But if you want to do something not many can do, then you have to go through the things that many won't. The struggle is what makes the successes feel so good and I can almost guarantee that one day you'll look back at the version of you that once nearly gave up for good and realise how far you've come. You'll then be the one giving this same advice to others.
People that never get started: I'm going to come at this one from a trading perspective because I get a huge amount of messages from aspiring traders saying they can't become traders for this reason and that reason. It's very often money related. They only have a couple hundred pounds and can't see themselves making a success of trading because of that. The advice I give, is advice I was once given by a mentor. 'Start where you are, with what you've got.' There are plenty of free but valuable resources out there for traders to learn the basics from when it comes to trading. Understandably there is also a lot of bad information, but feel free to message me anytime and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction. Get studying those basics now and start saving up money from your job to pump into trading once you have a good foundation. When I first found out about trading I spend a good few months just studying material and watching videos while I saved up for my first trading account.
9. Do you set yourself goals? And do you feel that it is a good way to achieve what you want?
I am a very big believer in setting goals and have been doing this for some time now. I tend to set big yearly goals, then I'll split those down into quarters, then down to months, to weeks and then daily goals. Essentially it's just small daily tasks that add up to the bigger picture. I am a very good procrastinator so I've found this pretty much essential to getting stuff done during the day.
A really helpful way I've used to set goals is to backwards engineer them. I think I heard Gary Vee talk about this once. You write down where you want to be in life in five or 10 years. This includes all aspects of your life; business, health, relationships etc. Then for each one you basically work your way backwards to where you are now, detailing each step that would be required. This makes it so much clearer to see how you would go about attaining this goal. You can then put in some actionable steps to fill the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. I actually found this process good fun, I found myself going into far more details on each goal than I normally would and it made some of the bigger goals feel a lot more real and achievable.
When it comes to trading goals, I do feel that you have to be a bit careful though. For example, if you start setting goals like 'Make £500 a day' then this may pressure you into making rash decisions in the market and perhaps taking trades outside of your plan in order to try and meet that monetary goal. We all know that the market doesn't present opportunities on a consistent basis like that, it changes every day. So I never recommend any traders to set goals in that way.
I would suggest setting daily goals such as 'stick to your trading plan today' or goals like 'backtest your strategy on one currency pair today'. These are goals that will benefit you massively in the long but won't add unnecessary pressure to your day to day trading activities.
10. Knowing what you know now and how you got to where you are today. Is there anything you would like to have done differently, maybe done something earlier in life (or later) etc.
I'd have definitely looked for a mentor sooner. I spent far too long at the start thinking I could be 'self-taught'. I used to tell people I was self teaching myself like it was something special. I also picked up a lot of bad habits that I could have avoided by having a mentor to learn from sooner.
I also wouldn't compare myself to others as much as I did in the very beginning. I know now how damaging that was for my progress. I used to feel so pressured to keep up with others traders that it made me crazy at times wondering what they were doing that I wasn't. I always felt like I was behind. I feel like I would have enjoyed the beginning of my journey a lot more had I known that.
11. You’re into your fitness. Do you see any similarities between staying in shape and pushing yourself physically to trading the Forex markets? And do you believe having a healthy body helps you have a clear and healthy mind?
Absolutely. To both questions. I started working out probably 2/3 years before I found out about trading so I already kind of understood the correlation between consistency and progression.
However, when I first started trading and was going through the low points, working out actually became just as much a mental release as it was a physical one. It allowed me to completely detach from the trading world for an hour or so every day and just get all my frustrations out.
Like anyone else would, I began working out for the physical benefits but I had no idea how much it would contribute towards my mental health, especially when trading got really tough. I would sometimes find myself going to the gym just because I couldn't think clearly.
It's for that reason that I absolutely recommend exercise as part of traders daily routine There's just something about being away from the charts and zoning out for a while that makes everything so much clearer when you return. I actually often work out in the evenings before I create my daily watchlist, as this is the time I feel the most clear-headed and seem to experience more clarity on the charts.
12. I understand you are aiming to make trading your full time occupation by the end of 2018 (something all retail traders dream about). Was this the goal from the very beginning when you started trading?
Yep that's right, come January 2019 I'll finally be a full-time trader which is pretty exciting! To step away from employment was definitely the goal from the beginning, and a huge part of the motivation (and still is) however I can't say I anticipated it being possible from the beginning. I'd say it was more of a fantasy for the first year or so.
I remember being at work plugging figures into compound calculators and getting all excited about the prospect of how much I could make or how soon I could leave work, only to be humbled by the market soon after and getting really disheartened. When I think back now, I believe one of the major turning points for me was when I stopped bringing my hate for my job to the market each day. Instead I started focusing on just becoming a better trader. Rather than using the resentment I had for my job to motivate me, I started working my ass off to improve as a trader and soon the love for trading and the progression became one of the main drivers.
Becoming a full timer trader will be a huge milestone for me, absolutely, but it's definitely not the final destination. I still have a massive amount of room to grow/improve as a trader and in all other aspects of life. It's been such a huge focus for a large part of my journey but ever since I set myself the deadline date to leave my job it's allowed me to start thinking more about what I actually want to do with my time. Of course I'll have that extra time to work on improving as a trader which is great!
But I'm also really looking forward to having time for other things like; reading/studying subjects I love, going to the gym (when it's empty), going for random walks during the day while the suns out, seeing friends/family more and getting involved in various different businesses/ventures that I'm passionate about. To me, being a 'full time trader' simply just means I'll have my time back.
13. You’ve built up quite a following on Instagram. What did you want to achieve when you started documenting your trading journey on line? And did you ever think it would have resulted in 25K people following you on your journey and having to deal with imposter accounts?
I definitely didn't anticipate that in the beginning! I simply started posting to Instagram to document my journey from the beginning and to connect with other people on the same journey. I think people really started to connect with my content because they could see I documented with more transparency than most traders tended to. I'm not afraid to post my losses, mistakes I’ve made, lessons learned or discuss some of the things I struggle with. I've got to say though, the imposter accounts came as a bit of shock, but I guess that's when you know you're doing something right!
But in all seriousness, trading is very much a zero sum business and it can be a very lonely game at times. Sometimes just being a part of something bigger and providing value or direction for others (especially new traders) is a great feeling. I simply try to be the person I would have looked up to when I first started trading. There's so much crap out there on social media in surrounding trading and sometimes just a little push in the right direction can make all the difference to someone and save them hours and hours of wasted time, and it’s worth it just for that.