I can’t think of anyone who would not like to have a fun time full of raucous laughter; and that goes for traders. In fact, having fun is normally an objective for most individuals. It is a reason why people work so hard; that is, to have some time where they can relax without care and interact with family, friends or even strangers. Having fun runs across every nationality, ethnic, racial and cultural background. However, no matter how much fun is in the fabric of human identity, it is not a good prescription for trading.
Now, on the face of it that may not seem to be sound advice. In other words, why would I suggest that you not have a “fun” time while you are trading; especially since it is so ubiquitous? Let’s take a closer look.
To begin with, having fun is not without pitfalls. Having fun has the prospect of mindlessness, which on the face of it is not a bad thing but mindlessness is not a quality trading habit. In fact, it is a drag on your trading. One of the most important cogs in the trading machinery is the ability to focus on what matters most.
It is crucial that you are deliberate about your mindset as well. Having a mindset that is aligned in thoughts, emotions and actions is a required trading habit for planning, follow-through and keeping commitments. Conflict is a nemesis of consistent, self-disciplined trading and when your thoughts are not aligned with your desired results then you are poised to veer off the path at the first fork in the road.
The fork in the road is where you must make a choice between going to the left, violating your rules and going over the cliff to crash and burn; or going to the right, trading your plan and keeping your A-Game at the platform. You must be self-aware; i.e., you must pay attention to what you are telling yourself so that you can counteract any errant limiting or negative thoughts that can cause negative emotions like fear, anxiety and greed that throw you off track. Thoughts determine emotions, and emotions drive behaviors, and behaviors beget results…in every instance. These three variables are precursors to every result that we experience…bar none. There may be other variables involved, but at the core are these three – always. So, your mindset is intricately tied to this ability to think clearly and follow-through. If you are not mindful; or in other words if you are frivolous in your approach it is going to bite you before it’s all over.
The mindlessness of fun can be highly injurious for another reason as well. Due to the lack of attention paid to emotional stability you are less likely to track your feelings; meaning that you are less likely to document your internal data (thoughts, emotions and behaviors) that occur as you trade. journaling is among the critical trading habits that you must maintain in order to become aware of your trading issues and then, of course, to address them.
I have often said that you can’t change what you can’t face, and you can’t face what you don’t know. Change is another inextricable part of the trading process. If you are not identifying changes that must be made in your trading, then you are not learning and growing. If you aren’t learning and growing, then your trading is not getting better. Without growth, you are going to languish in the dregs of results you don’t want which is where frustration and fragmentation reside. Mindlessness is the antithesis of deliberate, design oriented trading. Having fun then becomes the antithesis of methodical smart trading.
Now, am I saying that you should not enjoy your trading? No, absolutely not! Enjoyment is a lynchpin of trading well. Think about an endeavor that you have mastered, whether it is work related or not. For instance, let’s say that you trained to be a physician, or a lawyer or plumber and your skills have been honed by years of practice. When you engage in this behavior you enter into a zone of effectiveness; in other words, you gain great pleasure from doing this well. You have developed a standard of excellence and it makes your heart sing to perform at the highest levels of your ability. Similarly, if you have learned how to dance, play a game or compete in a sport to a high level of proficiency you gain great bliss from your involvement.
As with the professional activities, when you have established a standard of excellence you feel a sense of power and accomplishment that can only come from performing at your best. This feeling that you are experiencing is joy. It is a fulfillment of an inner intention that has been made manifest.
Now you might be asking, “What is the difference between fun and joy, aren’t they the same?” Actually, no, they aren’t. Fun is like eating cotton candy at an amusement park. Cotton candy is pure sugar and it’s a lot of fun to eat; just ask any child or remember the last time you ate it. But, it has no nutritive value. In fact, if you continue to eat it there will be negative consequences; for instance, cavities in your teeth, upset stomach and if your diet consists of too much cotton candy and not enough of normal food you will starve. Joy, on the other hand, is eating a delicious well-balanced meal that is full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that not only taste good but will support your strength, well-being and health. Joy is a precursor to happiness and living a life that is thoughtful, growth oriented and purposeful.
Fun, like eating cotton candy, is fine every now and then. But when it comes to your trading, you’ll want to infuse it with joy; that is, going as far as you can with all that you’ve got. So, establish a standard of excellence, develop good trading habits and aim to maintain them. You’ll not only support becoming consistently successful, you’ll feel better as well. This is what we teach in “Mastering the Mental Game” online and on-location course. 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