Once I find something that I am passionate about, I tend to relentlessly pursue that endeavor. My closest friends and family would say I do so to the point of obsession. While some may see this as a negative, I see it as a positive. It's the only way I know to achieve excellence.
However, there are some negatives to the "full tilt" pursuit of expertise. The most obvious side effect is burnout. In the past, when I'd feel burnout setting in, I would completely step away from what I was doing. However, when I came back, I wouldn't feel much different when I came back.
I've learned to take a different tactic when I'm burned out. I take only one day off, and spend that day fully immersed in the subject. I know it sounds crazy. Here's the rub; I immerse myself in "pump me up" activities. For example, when I'm tired of lifting weights, I watch "Pumping Iron" the bodybuilding classic that documents the rivalry between Arnold and Lou Ferrigno. If my tennis game is lagging, I go to my collection of classic matches. One of my favorites is the 1980 U.S. Open final between McEnroe and Borg.
When I've overdone it as a trader, and I cannot bear to look at another chart, I take a day off and spend it reading trading books. However, I am not reading trading "texts", such as Alan Farley's "Master Swing Trader." Trader biographies, interviews and profiles are what I use as "pump up" tools. Here are a few books that do the trick for me:
Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders
Jesse Livermore: The World's Greatest Stock Trader
Pit Bull: Lessons from Wall Street's Champion Day Trader
Confessions of a Street Addict
One of my new "pump up" books is Entries & Exits : Visits to 16 Trading Rooms (Wiley Trading) by Alexander Elder. The author interviews sixteen traders and not only asks them questions, but actually analyzes how they trade. Each traders gives some background on how and what they trade, and then open the vaults to their past trades, detailing the setup, entry and exit. It's sort of like reading somebody else's diary, with an added critique from Elder. This book takes the idea of "Market Wizards" and pushes it to another level.
I read this book for the second time this past weekend. Not only did it rejuvenate me as a trader, I gained some nuggets of wisdom that I will likely apply to my current methods. I highly recommend this book to anybody with even the slightest interest in trading.