- Are you trying to trade your way out of your current slump?
- Are you digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole with your trading?
- Are your trading losses piling up and affecting your profitability for the week, month, year?
- Have you experienced depression or negative thoughts stemming from your trading?
- Has you trading influenced your personal or family life?
- Do you use avoidance as a method of stress management?
- Do you use alcohol or drugs to manage to dull the stress or anxiety from trading?
I myself have answered yes to many if not all of these questions in my trading career.
Everyone likes to focus on the upsides of trading, but between the highs and lows of trading, the fluctuations in P&L, and the daily grind of trading – Trading is hard.
If you are at your wits end with the daily grind of trading as I see it you have 2 choices.
- Give Up. Go home. Find a hobby like knitting where you won’t have the stress. No need to read any further.
- If you aren’t ready to give up then it’s time to develop resilience.
“It’s not about how good you are, it’s about how good you want to be.“
Many of us have the misbelief that resilience is something we are born into or worst yet a finite resource. I’m here to tell you that resilience is a skill, resilience is a practice, resilience is a habit.
Investing and developing in your resilience will allow you to bounce back from (if not minimize) drawdowns and will allow you take to be open available to advantage of opportunities that will ultimately present themselves in the market.
Developing resilience will make you a better trader.
A large measure of coping with the day in and day out grind is having a defined trading plan with proper trading rules.
I won’t rehash here in a few sentences what many other trading sites and trading mentors spend volumes speaking about but without say it is critical to have a well defined trading plan with trading rules that have been battle tested – that is either via automated backtesting or better yet real-time backtesting.
Here a couple of links for those in search of better trading plans.
Having the trading plan and process in place gives you the permission if not the obligation to take a step back from the market action (or to trader smaller) during unfavorable market conditions.
Now the second part of this which is often neglected is around developing your market awareness and a part of this is developing mindfulness of your trading and emotional psyche.
What I am advocating here is building the contextual awareness on how to apply these trading rules; versus simply being an automaton or robot simply following binary “0-1” rules.
The art of being a great trader involves knowing when to press on the gas even though all the apparent signals on the dashboard are flashing danger. Some of the best traders in the world have not just a keen understanding of the markets but a keen understanding of themselves.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein
Few would argue that during trading intense emotions may surface. Large losses can evoke fear, sadness or anger or conversely large gains can evoke happiness, pride or joy. Emotions are more than simply side effects from the financial decisions that traders make. Research shows that emotions impact our decision making choices directly. Flip to any trading forum and it’s common to see traders and investors report intense emotions getting in the way of their plans and their trading strategies.
You are the operator of this coin and slot game.
You ultimately must need to have an extreme awareness of your own thoughts and actions. You must develop and incorporate strategies and learn practices to help improve the management of your mindset and emotions while trading. This is where mindfulness as a practice comes in.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a widely accepted attention training approach that helps to manage emotions effectively.
Originally the term “mindfulness” comes from Eastern religious and philosophical traditions. Scientific studies have shown that elements from mindfulness without the religious and philosophical context can be used effectively to support improved emotion regulation.
In this form it encompases a variety of techniques to become more fully aware of the present moment and to train attention.
Generally, mindfulness training aims at teaching acceptance, attention and awareness, including self-awareness. Mindful individuals are able to pay more attention to the present moment in ways that are open, curious, and without judgement.
Mindfulness has proven very effective in areas of psychological health and well being. For example beneficial effects include alleviating stress, decreasing symptoms of depression, and the reduction in sleep problems. Neuroscientific research shows that regular meditations are associated with significant changes in the brain, particularly in the pre-frontal cortex, an area that is associated with cognitive attention monitoring processes and executive control.
Although scientific research in this area is still at an early stage, I believe mindfulness training can have major benefits for investor and especially traders. Mindful traders can reduce the effects of irrelevant emotions by regulating those emotions more effectively, while still remaining sensitive to the useful information that some emotions may carry.
When being more in the present moment, emotions from past trades or over anxiety about future risks will be less likely to affect current financial decisions.
For too many traders, in the heat of the moment many of us lose the quality of being non-judgemental and instead fall under the illusory belief that the financial markets are somehow under our control, all the while losing focus on the factors that we can actually control like the mindset that drives our actions that ultimately affect our P&L.
By cultivating acceptance of past losses and gains, mindful traders can stay more focused when trading.
In conclusion the goal of the mindfulness training is to learn to notice your emotions and let them pass without unheedingly allowing them to drive your actions. The training is also designed to help you focus your attention more completely on the present moment. Specifically, mindfulness is associated with general improvements in well-being, emotion regulation and coping with stress.
I hope I have now swayed you around the importance of incorporating a mindfulness practice into your trading routines.
For those of you who are truly committed to mindfulness as a practice and want to truly explore what this practice can do for you then I would highly recommend this 30 day program hosted by the Saxo Bank. It is an amazing free resource they have compiled with some great research behind it.
Now for those of you new to the practice of mindfulness, or if you just want to dip your toes before too deeply committing then let me share with you a couple of videos for you to get started –
1. Mindful eating
2. Mindful Breathing
Lastly whichever path you take, I’d love to hear your feedback.
Please let us know how we’re doing and how you’re incorporating mindfulness in your trading in the comments section below.
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Why Meditation, Psychology and Trading Are Not Just Compatible But A Perfect Match
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How Meditation Can Improve Your Trading
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