Trading Journal: Nov 13–17

John F Carter
19 min readNov 14, 2023

This is going to be a travel week. I’ll be in NYC for a board meeting. I’ll be trading M & T, then W & TH we’ll see how the markets are. Flying back on Friday.

I’m grateful for: Life. Thank you, life. For the opportunities to experience, learn and grow.

I’m excited about: Simplifying. As a family we have too many things going on. As we approach the end of 2023, it is time to prune the rose bush, so that what’s remaining has a chance to really grow.

Priorities: Hydration, protein, positive thoughts. Get packed for your trip and make sure you have all the things. Protein powder, collagen protein, white noise machine . . . there is no reason to suffer or fall off the health cliff while you are on the road.

Monday morning, 7am central.

The markets are generally down across the board, about 20 ES points. Nothing too major. Targeting 4450 SPX this week.

At the gap down open, I’m watching SPX and NVDA. I end up buying in the money calls on both. For NVDA, I start off with 25 Friday expiration 470s (the stock is around 483) at 17.85. I’ll add if it starts to go in my favor. For the SPX, instead of selling a put credit spread, I buy 10 ITM 1DTE expiration. I get the 4390s at 22.20, while SPX is at 4398.

NVDA starts to perk up. I add 25 more at 18.10 and then another 25 at 18.50. which is my full position. I also pick up 10 more SPX at 22.30. NOTE, I did all of these as market orders as I didn’t want to be dicking around with limit orders fighting for .10 here or there. The spreads on both of these are narrow and there is plenty of liquidity, so there wasn’t a chance of getting too hosed like if I was trying to buy calls on BKNG at market.

NVDA takes off like a champ and starts hitting overhead resistance levels. I start to ease out at 22.50, 23.00 and 23.35.

At this point, I had exceeded my daily goal of 25K and had 35K on the books. Once I got out of my NVDA trade, I still had the SPX trade.

The SPX at this time was looking like it wanted to turn . . . but I didn’t want to risk it taking a nose dive. I’ve been really trying to dial into “making my money early then calling it a day.” I gave it a little more time and ended up closing out the SPX trade for about a $200 gain. Basically flat.

After that, I left to go to the gym with my wife and daughter. We started off walking a mile then hitting the weights for an hour. Of course, during this time I checked the SPX and it rallied nearly straight up for 20 points in a slow, grinding manner. Had I held my SPX calls . . . the plight of every discretionary trader. I was truly fine with it though. Spending family time at the gym is worth about a million times more than catching 20 points on the SPX.

I did have a solid workout on Saturday with my trainer. These videos illustrate a trading anaology. Trading consistently requires doing hard things. Like discipline. Avoiding FOMO. Not beating yourself up.

With trading, it is important to stick to your lane and trade the setups you have experience with. There is no need to be a jack of all trades. Just be a master of one or two specific situations.

From there, work on your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to admit you suck in some areas of your trading life. Admit it, then get to work on it.

These hip exercises, for me, are basically impossible. It’s a weakness I will continue to work on.

For trading, at the end of the day I did pick up some NVDA calls to hold overnight. I’m not a huge fan of overnight but the path of least resistance on NVDA is higher, there were nice intraday squeezes, and a screaming target at 500.

We did have a Thursday to Tuesday iron condor that expires on Friday. As of today it was against us by about $2.50. At $25 wide that is the max risk I’m willing to take, especially in front of a big number. I closed it out and will likely set up a new one tomorrow. There is no reason to set youself up to get clobbered when you have the opportunity to get out for a small loss.

Today’s wins: Overall a relaxing day and morning. Hit your goal, go to the gym, no stress.

How I’ll improve: For the SPX trade, can you put an OCO order on something like that and let Tasty manage it while you go to the gym? I know I can do this with futures. Take advantage of the tools.

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Tuesday, Nov 14, 2023

I’m grateful for: The realization that more isn’t the answer.

I’m excited about: With Thanksgiving and the Christmas/Holiday school break coming up, I’m excited about downtime and focusing on some family hang out time and adventures.

Priorities: Staying present. Listening to the Dispenza meditations this week.

CPI came out and the markets exploded. Everyone betting on dollar strength and lower stocks (basically betting on inflation rearing its ugly head) is getting destroyed today. Had long calls on NVDA overnight and it had a nice gap up and just took that opportunity to close it out. In the trading room I also had an unbalanced fly at SPX 4450. The markets blew through this and had to exit. So strong. Added AVGO and TSLA as intraday trades and while I’m holding some swing positions in the swing account, I exited everything in the daily cash flow account and will be flat in this account overnight. With travel, VIX expiration, etc., I’d rather be flat and let the dust settle and see what is setting up.

This is a tough spot to get excited about loading the boat on new longs. Do I think the market is going higher? Yes. This is the weekly chart of the NDX. Nothing about this says “OMG it is so bearish.”

But could we get a pullback? For sure. Though markets like this make big moves because there are so many people who have bet against it. It will stop moving higher once it wipes out all of the shorts.

Maybe some chop Wed — Friday. If so that would be a nice time for some iron flies and to pick up some of the strong stocks on any flushes.

Today’s wins: I was positioned for today’s open and spent the morning booking gains, making a few adjustments, closing out the wayward unbalanced SPX fly, and in my cash flow accounts, just stopping around mid day and going flat overnight. No need to push it. Hard day not to FOMO but I passed the test. Great 1 hour yoga session. Eating super healthy. Maria and I continue to talk about what 2024 could look like and how we are making it hard. (We are both recovering over achievers).

How I’ll improve: Spend a little more time planning out trades in advance on the SPX and NDX levels. Be present. Breathe.

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Wednesday, Nov 15, 2023

Traveling. Always challenges when traveling and that includes this trip. Solid workout this morning. Stayed flat overnight in my cash flow account. The trades I would have held over (TSLA, AVGO, NVDA) overall did ok, though NVDA had a nasty reversal soon after the open. We are in lofty territory. In the trading room, we closed out NVDA and TSLA and are holding some AVGO into next week. Overall expecting chop today with the big VIX expiration. I will have a lot of distractions today and tomorrow (aka meetings and meeting prep) and I want to avoid throwing on a trade and then having it get away from me “whilst in a meeting.” There are few guarantees in life, but a day trade getting away from you while in a meeting is almost a certainty.

I’m grateful for: Contrasts. This helps to clarify what you want and what you don’t want.

I’m excited about: Truly, simplifying. It doesn’t have to be this hard.

Priorities: A big focus on Simpler Trading today and tomorrow and things to focus on going forward.

A few hours after the market open, a fairly clean sell signal emerged on the SPX. I sold 1/4 my usual size as a call credit spread and half my usual size as a put debit spread 0DTE SPX.

This trade lasted about 30 minutes. The markets fell about 10 points shortly after my position entry. And then we just couldn’t break 4505. After 30 minutes of this, I started to scale out and fully exited with the SPX at 4505.

Entries at the circled cluster of 2 white arrows. Exited at 4505. At this point, I didn’t have an exit signal, but I was close to hitting my daily goal, am aware of how strong 4500 is as support, and I needed to start work on some other projects.

In terms of following my checklist, let’s see how I did.

  1. 30M and Daily charts very very bullish and very very extended here. This trend is up.
  2. Drilling down, 20M momentum was above zero but it was red, with other momentum signals also red and some below zero. Short-term action is down.
  3. We are above the 8 EMA 15M and extended. Counter-trend trade back to the mean. (I had some questions on this one so here’s a longer explanation. Price is extended high above the 8 period exponential moving average on the 15 minute chart. With a sell signal, I’m looking for price to pullback to that 8 EMA on the 15M chart).
  4. Trailing ATR is purple and above price, indicating path of least resistance “at this moment in time” is lower.
  5. Summary: The markets have had a huge up move, so technically this was a counter-trend trade. I’m fine with counter-trend trades as long as I am not fighting what is on the chart layout above. Like, yesterday, if I was shorting while all of the momentum was green? Then I deserve to get my ass handed to me. If this was a trend trade in the direction of the 30M and Daily charts, I’d be willing to give it more room. Since it is a countertrend trade, I’m looking to get in and out fairly quickly. In this case, about 30 minutes.

For the trade, I did a 25 lot 4515/4530 call credit spread and a 4515/4500 put debit spread. I am currently back to flat on the cash flow account. We’ll see what sets up later today but I’m inclined to keep things light. Possibly a butterfly around 4500 for later today.

If you are unfamiliar with spreads, the idea is you make money on the short 4515 call (9384) and then lose money on your protective long call (-3259) and you are left with the difference. Why a spread instead of naked? Well, if you are wrong with a spread, you can live to fight another day and your kids won’t disown you. If you are wrong naked, you can lose a lot more than you bargained for. I met someone who was short call options on bonds during the 1987 crash. He lost his business, his marriage, and over 30 years later still carried that haunting experience with him as if it happened yesterday.

It’s all good when you are right. The key is to position size as if it ain’t gonna work.

For the put debit spread, it is a little different. It is a way to offset premium decay when you buy a long put, not a way to protect from catastrophic loss. In this case, I would have been better off just buying the put . . . but of course had the market trading sideways at 4520 instead of dropping, or had exploded higher, my losses would have been bigger had I just had the long put. So — I made money on the long put (20,325) and lost money on the short put since it gained value as the market fell (-8450) and I kept the difference.

For a short signal, we can sell a call credit spread, buy a put debit spread, buy a long put, or short futures. Each has its pros and cons. If you are right and right fast, then long puts and short futures are awesome. If the markets are chopping and not really getting going, then having spreads makes them much easier to manage as they are very forgiving. And, of course, if the market does exactly the opposite of what you thought, they all lose.

As Sam said in the trading room this morning, structure trades so that when you are wrong, you are wrong small.

4pm EST, market close.

Ah, the close. It was pretty choppy. I did do a 10 lot 4500/4595 put debit spread for .15 and sold it for .50, so that $350 was put in the register. I had been doing larger trades like this into the close and it is great when they work but really a poor risk to reward in terms of cash flow goals when it doesn’t. Had this trade not worked . . .I would have lost $150 plus commissions. Totally acceptable. Let’s see how the markets shape up for tomorrow.

Today’s wins: Overall easy trading day, just followed the pretty colors while working on and managing meeting details. Solid workout and walk this morning.

How I’ll improve: Make a not to do and a no longer necessary to have list.

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Thursday, Nov 16, 2023

I’m in New York and have a day of meetings.

I’m grateful for: I almost did this meeting virtually. I’m glad I decided to come and participate in person vs. zoom. So much gets lost living on slack and zoom.

I’m excited about: Today’s adventure. It should be a good meeting and tonight I’m going to the CPJ International Press Freedom Awards. Black Tie event. Never mind that I forgot cuff links and the top button of my shirt no longer buttons. (Thanks Jackie, for those deadlifts).

Priorities: Packed day today, get your strength training workout in before the dinner tonight. Be present and positive and look where you can contribute.

Today I’m up early and headed to a 7 am breakfast meeting. It’s a 2-mile walk from the hotel and I start my Apple Watch and make the walk. 45 degrees outside. It feels amazing.

Great meeting, and then it is off to a quarterly board meeting for Simpler.

Yesterday, I put on a 20-lot trade on MSTR with in-the-money options for next week’s expiration and held them overnight. I was looking for bitcoin to run a bit more and it would give me something to watch during the meeting. I mean, I’m a trader. I can’t be in a meeting without a trade-on.

The meeting started at 9 am EST, and the markets opened at 9:30 am EST. MSTR gapped down like 20 points and opened below my stop, triggering a market order and generating a larger than planned loss. I mean, this happens, not a big deal. And, I did 20 contracts — acceptable size for this account — and not like 100. I lost 30K. Making money while in a meeting feels so productive. Not something that worked today and I feel no need to try to make up the loss.

It’s always good to get a win, of course. But to take a loss and be unemotional about it or not get into a meaning of life spiral is the real win. I’m confident that if I follow my game plan, next week will be another solid up week.

And if I’m being brutally honest with myself, I have to ask, “Had I not had a meeting scheduled, would I have taken that specific trade?” The answer is . . . no. So, that’s your challenge for next week and the rest of this year. Don’t take trades that you wouldn’t normally take, just because you have a meeting. Also acknowledge that you have a lot of interuptions during the trading day. The likely answer here is you need turn your day trading fully mechanical or hire a trading assistant.

“The easiest way to automate something is to pay someone to do it for you.”

I didn’t try to catch other intraday moves as the 4-hour meeting had a lot of great info and back and forth I wanted to be present and involved. Truly a great group of people. For the close, I added a cheap debit spread that didn’t pan out. A down day and I’m flat overnight, as I’m heading to the airport at 9:30 am. Plane trade day?

In trading, there are days that just don’t pan out. Looking over this, I’m fine with the trades I took. Bitcoin could have gone either way and position size was acceptable. I was not counting on the big gap down but I’m a big boy and know that happens.

It’s been a great week. For Friday, since I’m flying, I may put on a small bearish trade as the markets always seem to crash when I’m flying. Strange but true. (I obviously take this phenomenon with a grain of salt).

I did get a great workout in before the dinner at the hotel gym. I benched 225 for 6 reps without a spotter, a first. My goal has been to get 8 reps before I turn 55 next year. For a long time, once I got into 225 territory, I couldn’t do more than 2-3 reps. Slowly but surely. I knocked out 3 sets of 10 wide grip chin-ups. I’ve got a pain in my forearm/elbow that I need to go “get needled” for to loosen it up. Plus solid core and other exercises. As a bonus, the in-house trainer took me through 20 minutes of “ballerina stretches.” Like yoga, but harder. Great for hip mobility. My hips need a lot of engagement so this might be something I look to do more in the future.

The awards banquet was legit. Black Tie event with security. The event honored journalists who have either been imprisoned or died in their line of work — for doing what they believed in. Some very moving stories that make any whiny feelings I have about trading, or for that matter contributing to the trading community, seem very small-minded. Like truly being taken over by the bad part of my ego and getting caught up in all the things that egos like to get caught up in, so you remain dependent on it instead of following your mission like a journalist willing to die for what they believe in. Shut up and saddle up.

The event ended at 10:30 and I walked the mile and a half back to the hotel (from 48th and 12th back to 53rd and 5th) in my tux shoes. As I got the lay of the land, I realized it probably wasn’t the smartest idea I’d had today, but dammit, I benched 225 for 6 reps.

It was good to get out of the house and out of the bubble, so to speak. So much can get lost in translation living on slack, zoom and email. Being in the bubble is comforting but it is also hard, and you don’t know it until you step out of it. It is easy to create a prison of your own making.

Today’s wins: Acceptable trading loss percentage. Great Simpler board meeting. Killed your workout. Exposed to great things by simply getting out of the house.

How I’ll improve: Approach everything with an open heart.

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Friday, November 17, 2023

Travel day. I’m leaving NYC for the airport at 9:30am Eastern, right when the markets open. I decide to stay flat in my cash flow account and not do anything. Start next week flat and ready to go. Even though it will be a shortened thanksgiving week, I do plan to set up trades in that account in the morning. I do have 2 positions in the trading room account. A $500 cheap butterfly on NVDA that expires today, and a 960/1000 call debit spread on AVGO that expires next week. I have a target of $2.00 on NVDA and I’m planning ot hold AVGO into the weekend.

I’m grateful for: The NYC trip was a plus in many ways. It opened my eyes to new opportunities and new attitudes (on my part).

I’m excited about: 2024

Priorities: Double down on health. If you have your health you have a thousand dreams. If you lose your health, you have one dream.

NVDA got within spitting distance but my target of $2.00 didn’t hit and it closed below the levels. We got that for .55 cents so in a case like that I’m fine risking the debit paid. On this account it was a 10 lot trade so a loss of $550.

Let’s look at AVGO. This stock is very extended, so why am I long? And it pulled back yesterday and freaked a few people out. BUT it is always important to keep the moves in mind with the daily ATR (Average True Range). For AVGO it is $24.40. A pullback of $17.00 is NOTHING, which is what happened yesterday. Today it rebounded and made new highs, settling at $977.73, close to the center of our call debit spread. Of course, anything can happen next week. Let’s take a look at the charts.

It is hard to justify buying this at such lofty levels, so why do it?

The idea with momentum stocks is that you are looking for a Honey Badger. Basically a stock that doesn’t care what the rest of the market is doing. (Honey Badger don’t care!).

For the weekend, I’m flat in my larger cash flow account and just have AVGO in the trading room account. This market needs a breather but as long as interest rates are coming down, I don’t want to do much on the short side.

While on the flight home, I listened to Meditations for Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. This is a companion to the Joe Dispenza book of the same name. I read this book in 2019 and it was one of those that grabs you by the lapels and shakes you into an upgraded belief system. I took that and ran with it and over the next few years, and a whirlwind of amazing things took place in my life. That said, I never did the meditations.

My thought with things like this is that we need to snap out of our thought patterns from time to time. This is why I’m a huge fan of travel, or going to a conference, or meeting with a mastermind type group and sharing ideas. Like, snap out of your current self already. Covid put an end to a lot of the meetings I used to do on a regular basis. I’ve never engaged back into a lot of them, except for EO and YPO if you are familiar with those organizations.

We were talking about this book a few weeks ago in the room. One of the members mentioned how much they enjoyed the book. And . . . how they had been listening to the meditations for a year now and the strong impact that had on their life. A statement like that gets my attention.

I remember trying to listen to them before, a few years ago, and I peaced out. They are LONG. Like, an hour. Who has an hour?

On the flight home, I listened to 3 mediations with my eyes closed. Each one was an hour. It’s hard to explain what a strong impact this had on me. The guy seated next to me likely thought I passed out and was twitching in my sleep. When I got home, my wife and I listened to them together. Multiples of a more powerful impact.

There are four meditations. I tried listening to the first one a few weeks ago and I didn’t pay much attention. It didn’t catch my attention and it was a little out there for me at that moment in time. The 2nd meditation though? (Chapter 2) got me right away, as did the remaining Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 meditations. After I listened to 2, 3 and 4, the Chapter 1 meditation made a lot more sense.

Long story short, it’s ok to start with the Chapter 2 meditation and you will get an immediate idea of how this works. The idea of Chapter 1 is to set us up to fully receive Chapter 2. You can do Chapter 1 the next day and combine it with Chapter 2.

I’m a big believer in the idea that the things we think about the most tend to materialize in our lives. I also believe that our unconscious minds control our lives in ways we don’t fully comprehend. These hidden forces can be destructive are hard to comprehend. (A trip to Peru can help.)

Two quotes come to mind.

Ed Seykota: “Win or lose, everybody gets what they want out of the market. Some people seem to like to lose, so they win by losing money.”

And . . .

Carl Jung: “Until you make the subconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Many discretionary traders don’t follow their rules due to the two quotes mentioned above. Losing repeatedly sucks, but once we understand that we get something out of losing and surviving the loss . . .

Our thoughts are powerful. So is our unconscious mind. These meditations focus on both our conscious and unconscious minds for a full upgrade.

I’ll talk more on this later. But if you are intrigued, I highly recommend getting the audible meditations and get comfortable and take a listen. With each listen, it becomes more hardwired into our system.

I’ll also leave you with this. It’s a 4 minute compilation of Alan Watts that tends to get me aligned and waking up. It’s easy to forget the bigger picture when we are drowning in the day to day.

Have a great weekend.

Today’s wins: I said I wouldn’t trade the cash flow account and I didn’t. Listening to the meditations on the plane.

How I’ll improve: Listen to the meditations every day for 30 days and see what happens.

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John F Carter

INC 500 Founder, Simpler Trading. Member: EO, YPO. Husband & father of 3. Options trader. Rare coins, home schooler, zebra breeder. Author, Mastering the Trade.