I remember a few years ago cycling through the lush, green hills of Sonoma County in California wine country. It was a long ride totaling about 175 miles over a Saturday/Sunday weekend. On Saturday afternoon, my trip computer indicated that 60 miles was under my belt so that meant I had another 45 to go before closing out the day. At one point it felt as though a strong head wind had come up. So, with about 30 miles to go the peddles were barely moving as I struggled against what I thought were the elements. After getting into camp and going straight to the mechanics tent I found that it wasn’t the wind but a popped spoke that caused all the drag. You see, my back wheel had become ‘untrue’ and out of alignment, meaning that it was wobbly. Every time that part of the wheel went through the brakes it rubbed and consequently greatly slowed my progress.
This type of condition can happen to any machinery that relies on parts moving in a coordinated fashion and working together to form an efficient and smooth-running device. We are no different. Being organic machines we operate best when all of our parts are integrated, coordinated and aligned. If you are out-of-alignment, meaning that your thoughts are focused on negative and often irrational scenarios, then your system will becomes impaired. These type of thoughts are reflective of limiting beliefs such as, ‘I’m not good enough, smart enough, lucky enough to be consistently successful.’ When your thoughts are confused, disoriented, and chaotic, they are necessarily contrary to getting successful results.
Everything begins with your thoughts. In fact, all behaviors, good or bad, stem from your conscious or unconscious thoughts. Now, the other thing to note is that your emotions are prompted, created and determined by those thoughts. Emotions don’t appear out of thin air, they are caused by a thought. It’s also true that once an emotion has been activated by a thought, that emotion can cause other thoughts to arise. For example, let’s say you have a thought that the trade you’re in will not be successful giving rise to fear of losing money. That fear can then cause other thoughts such as, ‘I’m not a good trader’ or ‘I’m going to lose all of my money’, which ramps up the fear and drives a behavior like moving a stop or some other rule violation. It‘s critically important to be aligned in body, mind and emotions for your system to go in the same direction and for the same goals.
Below are a few of your system’s components that need to be true in order for you to work in an integrated, coordinated and congruent manner. This translates to planning your trade well, trading your plan while managing the trade, following all of your rules and keeping all of your commitments.
- Purpose: Having a compelling reason for why you trade is the starting point. This is where you connect the what-matters-most in your life, to the what-matters-most in the trade. Your purpose will activate passion and motivation to remain consistent with the purpose.
- Beliefs: Having a strong belief and faith in your ability to manage and execute your trade by meticulously employing your strategy, rules and commitments while maintaining an iron clad grip on the edge provided by your core strategy.
- Thoughts: Your thinking must be geared toward and supportive of your process. If you are full of head trash, it’s garbage in and garbage out that will drive your emotions and eventually your behaviors in the opposite direction to your desired results.
- Emotions: If you are feeling frustrated, frazzled and fragmented then it is very difficult to take positive action in managing and executing your trade. Emotions drive behavior and if you are fearful, anxious, angry or any of the many negative feeling states, it is going to bode badly for your attempts at follow-through.
- Behaviors: In the above, it was noted that trying to do the right thing while feeling very negative is difficult at best. However, that said, it is possible to feel the fear and do it anyway. This, of course, takes training and a resolve to do what it takes to get the outcome that you want. The long and short of it is that you must take massive action towards what you want despite what is going on in the rest of your system. Part of the point here is that it is going to be decidedly easier to take positive and proactive action when the rest of you is on board with the desired result.
The points in the above are just a few of the important components that you’ll want to have in alignment in order to have all of you working toward your goals. So, what are you doing in the service of your alignment? Are you focused with a purpose that encompasses the desired outcome? Behaviors are the test of alignment. In other words, are you doing what you said you were going to do, like keeping commitments? Do you have a trade plan and are you following through on it? Do you have trading rules? Are you practicing appropriate money management and position sizing? When you have losses or experience other disappointments, are you able to accept the reality and move on, or do you wallow in self-pity, sadness and anger? Are you journaling? Are you logging your trades? Alignment also relates to how you are conducting yourself in other parts of your life. Are you expecting more from others than you are willing to give? Are you keeping promises? Are you exhibiting courage? Align yourself and your trading for consistent success. You are an organic machine, and you work best when all of you is working in the same direction and on the same goals.