Sean — this hits home. Thanks for such raw honesty. Reading this was as if I were reading my own words.
I’ve dealt with the exact same emotions as an independent futures trader, and like you, I’ve experienced enough success to make leaving it difficult. Made all the more difficult by the scant alternatives offered by the “job market” (quotes to show disdain).
I got into trading a little later than you; starting at a Chicago prop firm (one I’m sure you’re familiar with), then going independent with a small group of former floor traders (some you may also be familiar with). These guys were brilliant, successful traders, and over the past 2 years they’ve all left it for other work. I am the only one still trading, and at times that feels like wearing a big badge of stupidity.
At the moment, I’m trading with a system I built. It’s showing enough edge to make me feel smart about continuing to do this. Whether that proves to be a blessing or a curse is yet to be determined.
Back to you. You’re a complete stranger to me, but by your own words you value humility, honesty, and being a Dad. Those things alone make me want to help. I’ve been the recipient of condescending advice relaying the typical build-your-network clichés from those who have it all figured out. I suspect you’ll get plenty of that, so that’s not what I’ll offer. What I can offer is this:
1) I can relay exactly how my three former colleagues made the transition away from trading, and what they’re doing now. It sounds like their circumstances/experience/obstacles were nearly identical to yours.
2) If you end up still trading, I’m happy to share ideas/systems/info to the extent it can help — at the very least, be a sounding board. As you know, independent trading can be a very isolating endeavor.
If any of that would be helpful, feel free to DM me. If not, thanks again for your post. I hope you get as much value out of people’s responses as you have given by sharing it.