Specialty Skills

Trade Accountability: A Key to Beginning the New Year Right

Dr. Woody Johnson

Well, even though it is not possible to begin the New Year with a totally clean slate, it is possible to become resolute in turning a new leaf in your trading. People all over the planet make resolutions at the beginning of the year and before January is finished many of them have already been broken. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for human beings to say one thing and do another. Even though it is very difficult, it is definitely in the best interests of yourself and your trading to make the notion of accountability very high on your list of the changes that you are going to make in order to get the results that you want. Accountability is the lynch pin of self-discipline and if you have not been planning your trades, trading your plans, following all of your rules and keeping all of your commitments, then taking a look at how you have – or not – been holding yourself accountable is a good place to start. So often traders want to place the responsibility for their results on anything and everywhere but the place that it belongs, and that place is with them. In order to make the necessary redirects in your trading process you’ve got to be willing to look at what you are doing or not doing that is causing your trading implosions.

Free WorkshopToo many traders are laboring under the misguided belief that most, if not all, of their issues are caused by someone or something outside of themselves. Firstly, traders don’t realize that they are exactly where they should be. Let’s say you came across a new internet strategy that guaranteed results and you bought it and began using it. Then, as you were implementing this “can’t lose” strategy and planning the trade the spouse and kids kept interrupting you. And, rather than checking to make sure that all was well with your trade data you barreled ahead and hoped that it would bring you a profit. Then, as it so often happens, after the trade gets filled it sours and you lose…again. Well, guess what, you should have lost. In other words, based upon the conditions and circumstances present in your trading process you got the results that you should have gotten; that is, you relied on outside variables like internet programs, news, and friends; you communicated with your spouse and children, or not, in a way that they misunderstood your needs for peace and quiet while trading; and you disregarded important facts within your trading environment in order to be confused and frustrated. One of the laws of The Universe is based upon cause and effect. If you set a cause in motion there will be a corresponding effect. For example, if you have tried to lose weight you might think that you “should” weigh something different from your current weight. But, how could you? You ate just the right amount of food (junk or otherwise), you vegged out on the couch just the right amount of times, and you exercised (or not) just the right amount of times to be exactly the weight that you are…you should be that weight. Why, because you are. Any thought that you “should” be different is a rejection of reality and a failure to accept what is fact. How often have you failed to accept reality as you blame your conditions and circumstances on outside forces? This result is also due to a failure to take personal accountability for your results, and you end up seducing yourself into thinking that you are not at fault.

The dictionary defines accountable as being held to account for an outcome. Additionally, if you were to look up responsible, it would define this term similarly. I take a different view. I’ll explain. To be responsible is to accept or have someone appoint you as the person who “can” respond to an event, issue or situation. On the other hand, to be accountable is to be held to actively “account” for the results that have transpired. I can be responsible for a trade going sour. But, that does not mean that I will necessarily do something to ensure that I’ll use the feedback to adjust and do better next time. Conversely, if I am held “accountable” for these results then I am more likely to be emotionally and cognitively invested in that outcome so that I will adjust my behavior accordingly to achieve the desired results. To be responsible is more passive in nature; and to be accountable is more active in nature. So, what does that mean for your trading? Everything!

You are responsible for your trades. If you execute it, then you own it; but that doesn’t mean that you will “accept” responsibility or hold yourself accountable for the results. Many traders blame everything and anyone for their results. These traders also continually seek outside themselves for the answers to their issues and shortcomings. What’s more is that they crowd their charts with so many indicators and tools that the price action can barely be seen. These are symptoms of a lack of alignment and integrity in trading. It is also indicative of a failed approach to achieving long term objectives.

In order to be consistently successful you must be self-aware while in the trade; that means you are focused with intention on what matters most in the trade. It means that you are in the moment, for the moment, fully available and in the now of the trade. Self-aware also means that you are tracking your thoughts, emotions and behaviors because these internal variables are what drive your execution. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have, if your internal data is conflicted, confused and confounded you are not going to execute according to the plan. That requires that you be diligent and vigilant about what is going on both inside of you and outside. You must be accountable for your thoughts, emotions and behavior at every juncture of the trade. You must be active in this pursuit if you are to be deliberate and trade by design in a “rule based” protocol. If you hold yourself accountable you are more prone to identify what is working and what is not working both internally with regard to issues that surface in your trading and with your strategies, set-ups and procedures (protocols). What’s more, you can’t identify what is working or not working unless you are documenting your mechanical data (everything that has to do with market information) through a Trade Log; and documenting your internal data (thoughts, emotions and behaviors associated with the trade) in your Thought Journal. This is true accountability.

So, take control of your process in this New Year first by holding yourself accountable for all of your results. Remain self-aware in order to weed out and root out negative issues that are caused by limiting beliefs and unruly emotions that lead to conflicted executions and rule violations. You can’t change what you can’t face and you can’t face what you don’t know. If you do this you will get closer to your A-Game, which is what you must do if you want to begin to get the results that deep down you know you can and deserve. In Mastering the Mental Game Online and On-location courses we show you how to remain self-aware through a number of powerful, easy-to-use, and simple tools to discover your A-Game, bring it to your platform and keep it there. Be accountable! Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.” You’ve got to do the inner work to be the trader that you always wanted to be.

Happy Trading,

Dr. Woody Johnson

This newsletter is written for educational purposes only. By no means do any of its contents recommend, advocate or urge the buying, selling or holding of any financial instrument whatsoever. Trading and Investing involves high levels of risk. The author expresses personal opinions and will not assume any responsibility whatsoever for the actions of the reader. The author may or may not have positions in Financial Instruments discussed in this newsletter. Future results can be dramatically different from the opinions expressed herein. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Reprints allowed for private reading only, for all else, please obtain permission.