For the past few weeks, you've been reading about how I trade -- the mechanics, the methodology, the thought process. That's all well and good.

But at the crux of all this is

why

I trade. There are many ways to make a buck, so why pursue a profession where most participants eventually wash out? I have my reasons, which I'll list below, but the real purpose of this column is to make you think about your own rationale. Why is that important? If you take up trading only for the most obvious of reasons -- money -- you'll be frustrated, nervous and eventually a statistic. If your reasons parallel some of mine, though, I think you'll at least have a fighting chance of being around for a while.

Anyway, my "whys" are listed below in order of priority.

Work/life flexibility. Regular readers know nothing is more important to me than my family. I figure I have only a few years left to make an impact on my daughters' lives, so I like to be around for all their activities, instead of on the road or stuck in an office. Trading, or at least the type of trading I do, gives me the ultimate in flexibility. My commute is about 45 seconds. I never have to work weekends. And I can travel anywhere, anytime. Of course, that all helps my golf game, and that is a nice byproduct.

The challenge. As I've alluded to over the years, trading is a lot like golf. Perfection may be unattainable, but there's always the hope that every day you play, you draw a little closer to "getting it." So, yes, your mark-to-market results are the bottom line, but boy, if you don't enjoy the journey, trading is a pretty tough slog.

The money. I'm not going to lie and say I'd do this for free. No, the money (at least in good years) can be quite nice. In bad stretches, though, the losses or lack of income can really put a knot in your stomach.

Now, notice what's not on the list? I said nothing about the "thrill" of trading. I certainly experience those giddy days of big gains and those nerve-wracking days of big losses, but more and more I want to disassociate myself from their effects. Instead, a "good day" is when I execute my methodology. A bad day is when I don't. Anything else is only a byproduct of that action. Said another way, if I start getting caught up in the highs and lows of making money, I'm bound to eventually deviate from my strategy, because I've become either unjustifiably emboldened or unjustifiably scared.

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The net of all this? Like most any other job that someone loves, trading fits the lifestyle I want and presents a consistent and enjoyable challenge. Add in the fact that I can make a buck, and there are few other things I'd rather be doing.

Tomorrow, an account of one of my typical days.

Today, the

S&P 500

,

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

,

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

,

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

and

Marsh & McLennan

(MMC) - Get Report

.

And that is the final word from Harvard Square, where Boston fans can personally thank me for the Red Sox' success. When I said this in the Oct. 18 column -- "And that is the final word from Fenway, where even I'm beginning to believe in the Curse of the Bambino. No team should have to go through what the Sox go through seemingly every year" -- it marked the top for the Yankees, and Boston has never looked back!

And don't forget -- now is a great time to learn how to make bigger, faster profits with technical analysis and charting. Get a free trial of my newsletter,

The Chartman's Top Stocks and follow along with me.

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks.

Smith writes a daily technical analysis column for RealMoney.com and also produces a daily premium product for TheStreet.com called The Chartman's Top Stocks --

click here for a free two-week trial. While Gary cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send your feedback to

gsmith@thestreet.com.

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