Lessons from the Pros

Specialty Skills

You Can Only Be and Trade In the NOW

She had experienced a string of losers, three to be exact, and the tension in her trading office hung in the air like black velvet curtains in a funeral home. The first trade of the day had been a small winner but it was dampened by the fact that Sherry had exited prematurely, robbing herself of a larger profit, (that is, if she hadn’t panicked). When the price action began to retrace away from her target, thoughts of losing in the trade led to waves of anxiety which then drove her to move her stop to just two pips from the current price.  That was 4 trades and 3 losses ago and she was approaching her 5 trade limit for this trade session. Now, she was angry, not to mention frustrated, frazzled and fragmented.  Getting back at the market filled her focus and populated her thoughts.  Sherry’s attention was riveted to the trades that had gone before, while she also was thinking about how devastating it would be to experience another loss.  In other words her mind was everywhere but the place it should have been…in that moment.  Because she was not mindful about what she was doing in that moment, the anger driven revenge trade she had begun to plan was hastily drawn up and impulsively executed.  It became a “fate-accompli” a foregone conclusion to end up exactly like so many haphazardly formulated and implemented plans before where the outcome is couched by violated rules and mishandled opportunities.   This is what happens so often when you are not in the NOW.

This scenario is played out countless times around the planet all throughout the trading day.  Millions of traders become distracted by ghosts of past moments and phantoms of moments yet to come.  When that happens they effectively take precious mental focus away from the most important thing that matters … the NOW.   When trading in the financial markets you want to have “all” of your internal resources (attention span, focus, pattern recognition, intuition, insight, logic, and organization skills to name a few) to be readily available and accessible.  You can’t do that if you are siphoning off huge portions of your mental energy to focus on what has already taken place or what is yet to happen.  Additionally, when you are living or “trading” in the past, the emotional residue can be daunting.  In other words, those ghosts of losses, botched plans, violated rules and missed opportunities bring with them those same emotions that were felt at that time; among them anxiety, anger, fear, self-loathing and doubt to name a few.  Furthermore, it is equally important to be cautious about allowing yourself to be enticed into the future.  Phantoms of what could or might be are just as destructive to your focus and bring with them a host of emotions as well, like greed and hope along with the other negative emotions mentioned in the above.  These emotions make it quite difficult to maintain focus on what matters most.   Also, you’ll want to resonate with objective reality as well; that is, to deal with what the charts are showing without the distorted judgment and distracted thinking brought on by assumptions and presumptions based on limiting beliefs and biases that present visual illusions.  This is “noise” just as the static interference distorts the signal coming into your TV or radio, which is very distracting to your ability to accurately track the intended message.

What you do want to do is to bring all that you have, your A-Game to the trading trenches and the only way to do that is to be in the moment (right now), for the moment (being on task and on purpose, by design), fully available (using all of your internal and external resources), and in the NOW (not a moment before or a moment ahead), resonating with what matters most in the trade (the plan and it’s flawless execution).   Being anywhere but the NOW promotes and facilitates the false self (the ego), which has as its focus to defend you from pain and discomfort.  However, if you choose to avoid all pain and discomfort, and remain in the comfort zone you will never experience growth.  It cannot happen in the comfort zone.  You must resist the urge to be ego driven and resist the tendency to “live” in the past and/or the future because once the past has transpired it no longer holds the “reality” of this moment; and the future also is illusory, it is hollow.  The ego revels in the past and the future, using them to seduce you into thinking that they are reality.  The ego thrives on self-protection from pains in the past, not in the service of growth but avoidance; and on self-promotion (puffery and substance-less illusions of an ego ideal) that is not based on growth and development but an unattainable sense of perfection.  This sense of perfection can never be realized accept as a here-and-now reflection of your highest and best self, your spiritual being.  When you are in the NOW you are aligned in body, mind and emotions all going for the same goals and in the same direction.  This position affords you immense power as you go as far as you can with all that you have.   Of course, the past in and of itself is not bad.  When the past is used to learn from and to plan it can be quite helpful to growth and development.  Conversely, planning is by definition a future oriented endeavor.  The difference in both of these perspectives to the NOW is that you are not trying to “live” in either of these positions.  You are simply using them as you would tools and data in the service of learning and growth.

One of the ways to ground yourself in the present is to “be” in your body.  Deep breathing while paying attention to exactly what you are doing as you keep your thoughts focused on this moment and whatever is taking place in that moment is extremely helpful to being in the NOW.  Practice being in your body, feel yourself, root yourself, and be aware of yourself and the moment.   Where your attention flows your energy goes.  Be mindful as you affirm to be in the NOW.  Remember, you are not a human-doing but a human- “being.”  Resonate with this moment, it is the only one that is real and use it to master your mental game…your A-Game depends on it.  We discuss these and other concepts to help you get the results that you want in the Mastering the Mental Game Online and On-location classes.  Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”

Happy Trading.

DISCLAIMER 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.