By Terry O’Keeffe, For Your Trading Edge Magazine
What could be easier than day trading.
So simple… analyse the chart, find your pattern setup, place an order with a stop loss and target, wait for the market to come to you… order filled… target hit… win profit into the bank. Do this over and over again.
So simple, isn’t it?
Well, technically speaking, day trading is simple, however the process I just discussed is only 20% of the equation to being a successful day trader … it’s the 80% that gets in your way … your brain is that 80%.
When trading, are you really in the trade or is your mind taking you somewhere else? Our brains are continually telling us stories … stories that have absolutely nothing to do with our current trade. Stories from the past … ‘what if I had done this instead of that’ … ‘what if that was different’ … ‘I wish I had’. Stories about our future … ‘I need to do this’ … ‘I can’t do this’ … ‘I won’t make that bloody deadline’ … ‘what if that happens?’ … ‘what would I do then?’ … and so on … We have all heard a duck quacking … it’s distinct and there is no other sound like it… when we hear a ‘quack’ we can’t get that sound out of our head and the harder we try, the louder it gets!
All of a sudden there is a whole flock of ducks crapping on your brain! That’s what the stories in our brains are like – they start to take over.
Back to our trading, is our brain taking us somewhere else? Revisiting the past, recounting great trading opportunities that we missed out because the trade did not meet our trading plan, past trading losses, past pain because the last trade we took stopped out and that was just like this trade. Or is our brain thinking about what might happen – ‘what if I lose again’, ‘what if I continually lose and blow up my trading account’, ‘what if I fail’, ‘what would I do then’, ‘what if’ … ‘what if’ … ‘what if’ … That duck in our head is scaring the success out of us.
YOU HAVE TO GET THE DUCK OUT!
I find these five methods work for me … meditation … having fun … visualising … setting a routine … journaling.
This is my favourite. It’s like a self-imposed social distancing … no, I don’t sit in a yoga pose with my eyes closed chanting a chorus of ohms. I simply find a quiet place out of everyone’s way where I won’t be disturbed. I sit still for 30 minutes – usually in the garden, front porch or car (phone in airplane mode) not thinking about anything – with my eyes open and observing … being in the here and now … focusing on my breath – in, out, in, out … using my senses – I touch, I see, I hear, I smell, I taste … the feel of the seat, the breeze … the trees and plants, the shadow movement in the breeze, the clouds moving, the birds & insects moving, the sound of my heart and blood pumping, the rush of breath into and out of my lungs, the chirping, the mechanical noises, people noises, the smell of the dust or rain in the distance or meals cooking, the taste in the air. My ducks are asleep … my mind is clear.
Having fun …
No, I don’t mean partying or socialising … I am talking about a hobby, craft, jigsaw, reading … where I am totally immersed in what I am doing. My favourite is doing something in the garden as it is relaxing, in the sun, earthing, in nature and absorbs me in the here and now. Don’t laugh, I even love mowing the lawn. Not a duck in the yard.
Is setting myself to have a great day. It’s painting a picture of what will happen. When I visualise that I have already achieved it, and replace the fear with a positive outcome, it makes me feel good. This is my favourite method … it’s called The Kylego Exercise and its different from other types of visualisation. In other types you visualise what is going to happen for the day, week, month etc. It’s talking about what you want to happen in the future. However, the brain knows the past is a reality because it has actually happened. Visualising the Kylego way is talking about the future as if it has already happened … because if it has happened in your mind then your mind believes it as being true. For example, before trading today … ‘I had a great trading day yesterday. I traded two sessions and waited patiently for my trade set up to appear. There was one in each session and both went to profit so quickly. That was just like the day before. I really love my trading plan’ or ‘Last month was a great month. I achieved all my goals. My trading success was over 92% and my KPI were smashed’.
Setting a Routine
This is my strong point. I map out my day and week by blocking times to one particular task and that task only. I use a simple Excel sheet with a column for each day with half hourly intervals. There are three things … what I must do such as pay bills, meet appointments; what I need to do to achieve my goals for example day trading time including preparation, metric recording and reflection plus attending Live Trading Room Coaching, and Webinars; and my mind, body and soul time like relaxing, having fun, meditation, socialising; and day to day needs like eating, showering. I now over estimate how much time I need to block out otherwise I place too much pressure on myself. I also keep Friday afternoons free for overflows that I need to finish.
Its basically a ‘brain dump’ to clear that quacking from my head. This is my weak point as I find it difficult to get into a routine of writing in my journal. It’s not as though it has to be done at a specific time or there aren’t many topics to write about. Also, it doesn’t have to be an essay – just a sentence or two. Most people journal at night, however it can be done in the mornings or any time when I want to remove a quack thought from my brain. It can record my daily progress, my insights and learnings, dump my issues, write my goals, express gratitude or whatever comes to mind. Writing this article has caused me to act. My public commitment from today on is to start journaling two sentences every day.
And then there is my purpose or my ‘why’. This is my reason for existing … the reason I get out of bed … the reason why I push myself. Personally, after reading and listening to what seems to be hundreds of discussions on ‘purpose’ and ‘why’, I still found this impossible to work out. It was not until I was over 60 when I separated my purpose and my why into two distinct items where it all fell into place. My purpose is simply about me … what I want my body to be like, where I want my mind to be, how I want to treat others, and how I treat myself. My why is how I want to help others using my knowledge, skills, time and resources to ‘bring relief, security, smiles, dreams, hope and joy’.
Achieving and maintaining mindfulness is tough and hard work.
You cannot do this by yourself. You need someone who is not in your yard full of ducks … you need someone who can look down from above and show you the way to a quiet mindful place. I could not do this without help, in fact, I could not even see or hear the ducks. You need a mentor to help you transform yourself … someone who is experienced and with a passion to help other people … someone who can show you how to shut the quacking up.