The Key To Successful Trading Psychology

We generally think of the sleep and waking states as binary.  We are either asleep or we are awake.  A very important recognition, reflected in the recent Forbes article, is that sleep and waking are a continuum.  Much of the time, we are not fully awake and we are not fast asleep.  Our bodies are awake and we talk and act and trade, but we are not self-aware. We can drift from thought to thought, habit to habit, routine to routine quite mechanically, seemingly awake but not awakened.

A paradox in trading is that we need routines and processes to trade with consistency, but this same immersion in routine can leave us lacking self-awareness.  Most of us have had the experience of making poor trades and then, at the end of the day, wondering, "How could I have done that?!"  Quite literally, "I" did not do that.  It was "me" reacting.

Without self-awareness, we are reactive.  Action requires intention: the "I" must be in the driver's seat. Trying to get rid of emotion in our trading, in and of itself, will not build our capacity for intentional action.  We can be just as reactive in quiet boredom as frustrated fury.

Experienced buying and selling psychology coaches recognize this:

*  The AlphaMind Podcast, with Mark Randall and Steven Goldstein, emphasizes mindfulness as an important component of performance, facilitating self-management and even pain management.

*  Yvan Byeagee, in his Trading Composure blog, describes a process for mindfulness and its ability to "detach" us "from unfruitful patterns of behavior".

*  Adam Grimes, on his site, explains that meditation, a key path toward mindfulness, helps us "work toward a state of clarity and...the stopping of random thoughts and influences."

* Gary Dayton, talking with Andrew Swanscott and the Better System Trading podcast approximately mindfulness in buying and selling, notes that even traders with a few years of enjoy feel feelings related to earnings and losses and that suppressing and controlling feelings does not paintings.

What the Forbes article adds to these valuable insights is that the development of our intentionality is enhanced when we operate within an intentional community .  It is not coincidence that serious students of meditation learn within communities headed by a master teacher.  Nor is it coincidence that peak performance, whether from an Olympic athlete or a performing artist, is never developed in a vacuum.  There are always schools, always coaches and mentors, always supervised practice and structured feedback.  Operating within a high performance community keeps us continually mindful of what we need to do to perform at our best.  It is no coincidence that, at trading firms such as SMB Capital, preparing for the day, searching for trade ideas, and reviewing performance is all undertaken in a team context, where being around awake people helps keep each trader from falling asleep at the trading wheel.

Viewed from this perspective, every single day offers a potential workout of our intentional muscles.  Each day lived purposefully cultivates our capacity for self-direction and true wakeful living.  The key to successful trading psychology is living life purposefully, expanding our capacity to sustain direction and intention.  At root, all bad trading is mindless trading.

Further Reading:

Why It Takes More Than Goal Setting to Reach Our Goals

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