Trading Coach: Newly-minted PM asks “What’s the point?”

Wed May 30, 2012

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Denise Shull on pinpointing the enemy.


Last year I worked my a$$ off trying to get promoted to portfolio manager and it worked. Now I just can’t get motivated. I used to check my markets and update my plan every night, no matter how late. Now I drag myself to work, can barely check the news and just don’t really care if I make any more money. I feel like maybe the Occupy Wall St people have a point – what good am I to society? Plus, now that I’ve got the PM, my girlfriend insists on her MRS – which I am not in the mood for in the least! Frankly, I’m totally confused and, honestly, a little bit scared. It’s May and I am at about breakeven and about to be broken-up with.


Dear B-TO-BE:

First things first, make that a very dirty Grey Goose martini please. I need to think about what the real meaning of that promotion was. By the sound of it, it wasn’t about the achievement.

What’s really bothering you? Depression, which like it or not is what you are describing, can often be about anger that one isn’t admitting to or that has no acceptable outlet. Think about who or what you are really mad at. Your boss? Your girlfriend? Wall Street? Figure that out, even just in your own head, and you have a fighting chance at getting your mojo back.

Furthermore, the root of the anger undoubtedly goes back to a time earlier in life when you didn’t feel recognized. Maybe you didn’t make the varsity football team or your parents were critical of even "A" marks. Now you clearly made the team and it’s unsettling, to put it gently. Your psyche is wearing a new suit that is two sizes too big. Think about it. Besides not knowing how to graciously accept the new role, demands are also piling up. Could it be that you are angry because no matter what you do, it’s never quite good enough?

My guess is that deep down this is really about who loves you just the way you are.

(Excellent martini btw.)


In a new recurring feature, readers are invited to write to trading coach Denise Shull, a recognized expert in risk psychology and author of Market Mind Games. Send questions to

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