Progressing in the trading world is an extremely difficult task. Trading is hard enough to master by itself, but what I feel is even tougher to deal with is staying motivated. I think I speak for every trader out there when I say that we've all had a period in time where we've honestly felt as if we just weren't good enough. This is normal with anything in life so it's not a bad thing. However, what makes it difficult to deal with in the trading world is the fact that we often have nobody there to pick us up when we're feeling down. First of all, many of us trade alone with little to no contact with the outside world (at least during our trading hours). Secondly, most of our friends and family members have no idea what trading is, so it's hard for them to pick us up when we're down simply due to lack of knowledge on the subject. Lastly, and it may sound bad but, I would bet that most of us don't get a lot of support when making it public that trading is something we want to become serious about. I know I didn't. I'm not going to go as far as saying I got laughed at, but I'm pretty good at reading body language and my best bet would say that the majority of people I told my plans too thought my idea was "cute," meaning they would humor me with false encouragement on the outside, but deep down they wanted to say "come on Akil let's be realistic." Now I don't believe that they thought like this because they wanted to wish me bad luck or anything like that. I think that as a species we are creates of habit, therefore whenever something out of the norm takes place, we automatically think of it as being something negative. The entire problem starts with that word "realistic." Anthony Robbins said it best when he wrote "Most people who say, "Let's be realistic," are really just living in fear, deathly afraid of being disappointed...Great leaders are rarely realistic. They are intelligent, and they are accurate, but they are not realistic by other people's standards."
My advice is to create big goals for where you want to be in the future because what may seem unrealistic now may turn out to be your reality a year from now. I forgot who said it but one of my favorite quotes is "Everything was once impossible...until it was done."
"Beliefs are not limited to impacting our emotions or actions. They can literally change our bodies in a matter of moments. I had the pleasure of interviewing Yale professor and best-selling author Dr. Bernie Siegel. As we began to speak about the power of belief, Bernie shared with me some of the research he'd done on people with Multiple Personality Disorders. Incredibly, the potency of these people's beliefs that they had become a different person resulted in an unquestioned command to their nervous system to make measurable changes in their biochemistry, The result? Their bodies would literally transform before the researchers' eyes and begin to reflect a new identity at a moment's notice. Studies document such remarkable occurrences as patients' eye color actually changing as their personality changes, or physical marks disappearing and reappearing! Even diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure come and go depending on the person's belief as to which personality they're manifesting (Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within)."
I found the passage above to be very interesting. I'm not sure how much I buy the whole physical change part seeing how I've never witnessed it, but I agree entirely with the notion that beliefs indeed have an effect on the nervous system and can cause people to change. With that being said, I think it's possible for someone to become an entirely different person when trading. I've always said to the traders I worked with that I believe ones trading style should somehow match their personality. Meaning that if you are a naturally a laid back individual then you should be more of a passive and conservative trader who waits for retest of structure to enter a position and if you have more of an impatient, I want it now type of personality, then you should be more of an aggressive limit order type of trader. However, as I read more and more of this Awaken the Giant Within book, my views on this topic are starting to open up a little. Is it possible that my normal impatient, I hate to wait for things self is able to somehow transform into a very calm, cool, and relaxed conservative trader 3 hours a day during the live room? I think so! After all we see professional athletesdo it all of the time. So let's assume that making this change is possible and that we do have the ability to leave ourselves and become a different person. How do we trigger this change? Is it like superman where we simply enter a booth, change clothes and we come out as a super trader? Maybe, after all I trade from home and I did go through a phase where I would dress up in a suit and tie each day just to trade the markets from my bedroom. Unfortunately, professional looking was still the only professional part of my trading. Or, maybe it's more like the incredible Hulk where a certain emotion has to trigger before we can transform into an ultimate trading beast. Well, I've gotten upset at the markets plenty of times, but it usually ended in be losing even more money. So what's the key to making this transformation? One word, affirmations.
Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation. These statements should be repeated in order to impress the subconscious mind and trigger positive actions. For those who are a regular to this site, you're aware that every day I put up a positive quote. By going through many quotes each day and picking one I think is good for the site, I am starting my day by putting myself in a positive place. I then follow that up by reading through my trading plan which has many affirmations in it such as "I am a professional currency trader" and "I will be successful because..." Reading these statements (along with some motivational music) pumps me up each day and transforms me into a confident trader. I did the same thing when playing sports. Before each game I would say to myself "I am the best player on this field, nobody can stop me, I will catch every ball thrown my way" etc. In real life I am a very humble individual so I would never tell anybody that I was better than them, but in order to go out there and give my best I had to transform myself into somebody else. Of course simply telling myself these affirmations didn't work by themselves. Eventually I had to do something real in order to make these saying believable.
"What is a belief, anyway? Often in life we talk about things without having a clear idea of what they really are. Most people treat a belief as if it's a thing, when really all it is is a feeling of certainty about something. If you say you believe that you're intelligent, all you're really saying is, I feel certain that I'm intelligent. That sense of certainty allows you to tap into resources that allow you to produce intelligent results. We all have the answers inside of us for virtually anything-- or at least we have access to the answers we need through others. But often our lack of belief, our lack of certainty, causes us not to be able to use the capacity that resides within us. A simple way of understanding a belief is to think about its basic building block: an idea. There are a lot of ideas you may think about but not really believe... How do we turn an idea into a belief? Let me offer you a simple metaphor to describe the process. If you can think of an idea as being like a tabletop with no legs, you'll have a fir representation of why an idea doesn't feel as certain as a belief. Without any legs, that tabletop won't even stand up by itself. Belief on the other hand, has legs (Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within)."
Affirmations are a great start by themselves but they mean nothing if you can't attach a personsonal experience to them and back up your claim. "I am a great trader because last month I followed my rules and increased my capital." "I will have a good trading day because I am confident in my system and it has proven to make money over time." Maybe not the best examples in the world but the idea is to attach a personal event to your claim. So what do you do if you're a newbie trader who has just started out and hasn't had the chance to gain those positive experiences needed to turn that idea into a belief? My advice is to be creative. Remember the example of an affirmation that I shared with you from my trading plan. What I didn't mention was that this affirmation was in there before I placed a single live trade. Earlier I wrote "I will be successful because..." Well the full affirmation is "I will be successful because I have successfully completed a professional trading course. With this experience, discipline, knowledge of the markets, and the hard work put into mastering my craft, I know that I will be successful and that I deserve to be."
Our brain is a powerful tool. We've seen athletes transform on the field of play, we've seen soldiers transform on the battle field, we've seen parents transform in order to protect their children in dangerous situations. If this is all true, then shouldn't it be possible to will ourselves into becoming successful traders? I'll leave that open for debate.
Yesterday evening I had the honor of being a guest at a business meeting of America's number one selling brand. Now before you jump to any conclusions, no I wasn't there to join them, nor was I there to speak. Being the business minded person I am, I was simply there to observe, learn, and most importantly support my fiancée who was involved in the meeting. During the meeting I heard a very interesting story. One of the group members recalled a time where they were struggling and felt as if their business was stuck and going nowhere. She then called up her superior in hopes of getting some advice on how to improve, thinking to themselves that she would be given all of the right answers to instantly fix her problems. As the superior drove up in her fancy car, the women greeted her eager to make this quick fix. As she explained her issues to the superior, hoping to receive pity for her situation, the superior responded with a single question; "well what are you going to do?" The women responded "work harder I guess" and that was the end of the meeting. This story really hit home with me as I was able to easily relate it to my trading journey. Just like in her business, there was a set way to achieve success in trading. Nobody promised it would be easy, and nobody promised it would be quick, but it was proven that if you follow the steps laid out, success would eventually be mine. The only variable involved was how bad I wanted to be successful and how hard was I willing to work in order to achieve it.
After graduating from The Pro Trader Course, I was given not only the tools to succeed, but I was able to build a plan that if followed correctly would lead me to success. Again, it wasn't easy and it wasn't quick, but it was proven. Like many other rookie traders, I tried to shortcut my plan and I ended up getting bit in the butt because of it. There is a reason it's commonly said that it takes a trader at least 6 months to become consistently profitable, and most of it has nothing to do with technique or strategy. After a massive failure, I decided to start over from scratch and follow my plan step by step and what do you know, I've had success ever since.
I learned the hard way that there are no shortcuts to success and if you follow your plan then the only thing separating failure from success is how hard you're willing to work. Remember trading isn't like playing a professional sport where at the end of the day you have to be born with a certain level of genetic ability to make it to the highest level. Making it as a trader depends all on you. I'll leave you with this story. In high school I was one of the best football players in my state. However, one of the main reasons I didn't get many scholarship offers from big time colleges was because of my height. I literally had a coach tell me "son if you were 3 inches taller, we'd love to pay for you to come here." Yes I probably could have tried to walk on to the team, prove myself through practice and workouts, gained a starting position and eventually go pro. It's a long shot but who knows, it could've happened. The point is, I didn't and in hindsight I probably used what that coach said as an excuse not to. It's sad to say this but failing is much easier than succeeding and many of us are just looking for an excuse to justify quitting. In professional trading there are no excuses. Either you want to be good or you don't.