“The face you wear—the thoughts you bring—The heart may heal or break…” – Daniel Clement Colesworthy

Today, I had to admit a 35-year-old trader to the hospital. He complained of crushing substernal chest pain and collapsed at his trading desk.

He will most likely survive this horrible event. However, it is pretty clear that he will never be the same. No one gets out of this type of situation unscathed. The trauma will pass, and the immediate stress will dissipate. However, anxiety and post-traumatic stress will remain with him for years to come.

How does something like this happen? He was overweight and not in good physical health. Moreover, his stress level had been climbing over the past few months. He was trading badly and then began over-trading and taking larger positions. He was making larger and larger “tweaks” to his trading plan, and there was little or no discipline in the way he was acting, both during and after market hours.

This is never a good sign for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the drawdown on financial, mental, energetic and physical capital. This includes a “revenge it is” attitude that seemed to be setting in. You know what I mean: “I have to do something to get even with the market! I have to get back what I lost.” Again, not good. He had never seen this type of activity with some large positions that went heavily against him. The volatility of this week’s market was too much for him.

We had been working for a year to start a program to modulate his involvement with the markets and get him into a regular exercise program—weights, aerobics, yoga. He had also been working to improve his terrible diet.

We were developing a trading plan that allowed him to enter orders and stops mechanically so he would not be in sedentary stress all day, every day while watching the markets. These were all great ideas. Unfortunately, he procrastinated, agreeing to make the changes to his lifestyle, but, in the long haul, he did nothing but talk and ended up with a heart attack.

Living well and trading well are about commitment, execution, discipline and timing.

The best laid plans! He had the right ideas about changing his life, but he dragged his feet. He was over-executing his trades, getting sloppy and looking for the really big “30-40 bagger.” His drive for money got in the way of his life and health. For whatever reason, he could not follow through. He was literally falling apart. He allowed himself to break his heart, putting himself in cardiac intensive care.

I am sending every ounce of healing energy and prayer I have to him tonight and ask you to do the same. What good are all the ideas, hopes, dreams and plans you make to get right with yourself if you cannot start right now to do what you must? What is really important in your life? What are your priorities? How will you be remembered?

Start this instant to make the change you want to see in yourself. Go to the mirror and ask yourself “What is worth dying for?”

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You, and you alone, have the power to take control of your life and of your trading. Do it now, before it becomes just another idea sitting around in a box somewhere.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or to anticipate troubles. The secret is to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly….” – Buddha