There it is, that unfinished Macro Trade Plan that you committed to finishing before your next live trade, that stack of books that you promised yourself you’d read and the list of unfinished to-dos that go back weeks. You find yourself thinking, “What is wrong with me, why can’t I follow through with at least the stuff that is important?” Yes, this is all too familiar because it happens over and over, and you may feel powerless to stop it. In fact, it may be the story of your life. You’ve missed deadlines, squandered resources and embarrassed yourself all because you didn’t follow through… you procrastinate.
Procrastination – putting something off till a later time or date – appears to haunt many a trader’s life. It can ease up on you like a fog rolling in, and before you know it you can’t clearly see the path to getting the results that you want. If you’ve ever said something like, “I’ll do it when I get around to it” or “tomorrow I’ll feel better about it” or “I’m more creative when I’m close to deadline,” then you have suffered with procrastination. In fact, you may be plagued by this so much that you think nothing can be done about it. However, the reality is that procrastinators are made not born.
Let’s look at procrastination little more closely. Often procrastination begins early in life and is related to parents that are authoritarian and controlling. As a consequence of this environment, children become more anxious about performing and hyper-sensitive concerning criticism and judgement from others. This creates an attitude of self-incrimination that anticipates a poor performance which causes the individual to procrastinate resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy as they have little time left and have allocated insufficient resources to accomplish their task. The anxiety and fear associated with this behavior debilitates their resolve and often generates what appears to be an insurmountable barrier that separates them from carrying out an intention. When left unchecked, this situation can create a depression filled life that is strewn with the ghosts of things that could have been but never were.
Though the above scenario is common, procrastination has affected just about everyone at one time or another. Essentially there are two types:
- Deadline Related Procrastination is commonly experienced by students and professionals when that important paper or expense report is due. The deadline type is a little easier to tackle and subdue.
- Commitment Related Procrastination affects those who keep putting off making a desired change or personal accomplishment such as completing a Macro Trade Plan or writing a book or taking up a hobby. People that consider themselves to have good self-discipline and to have conquered deadline procrastination would probably be hard pressed, if they are honest, not to admit to struggling with some form of commitment procrastination.
Tips to Stop Procrastinating:
Make a List
Identify what accomplishments are expected of you. Make a list of the steps that are required to complete each item. After you have written them down, prioritize them and use them as a checklist. If you have ever had a to-do list then you have experienced how good it feels to scratch an item off that list. This will provide a reinforcing force and every time you scratch another item off you will be in a stronger position to continue.
Break Projects Down into More Manageable Segments
Rather than approach an item that is big and may seem daunting as one task, break it down into smaller “bite-sized” pieces. This will help both your willingness and your ability to follow through to get it done.
Be Specific With Goals and Time Tables
Don’t allow vague descriptions of the things you want to achieve. When you are specific, detailed and clear about your objectives along with creating realistic but challenging time tables you are much more likely to remain on target and on task to complete your items.
Recognize the Onset of Procrastination
When you are in the about-to-procrastinate mode, you are likely to experience a thought. For instance, “I’ll feel better about this tomorrow,” followed by a lowered anxiety, then the avoidance behavior. When this happens, change the thought to, for instance, “Actually, I’ll feel better once it is done.” This will help you to feel more positive about taking a step toward completing the task. In this way, you are interrupting the emerging pattern that ends with the evasive conduct and replacing it with a proactive action.
Turn off the TV, put away the book and put down the phone. These and other things like them become distractions that take you away from your intention to complete the task.
When you have achieved your objective, either completing a step in the process of accomplishing the goal or the goal itself, celebrate by giving yourself a reward. You have realized a private victory that warrants being good to yourself. This will reinforce the process, and the more you do it the closer you will come to incorporating this pattern as a habit.
Doing what it takes to position yourself one step at a time to become a consistently successful trader involves remaining diligent and vigilant to those small steps that will take you to achieving the results you want. This is what we teach in Mastering the Mental Game online and on-location courses. Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book, From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.
Dr. Woody Johnson – firstname.lastname@example.org