July 13, 2006

When You're Stuck, Start Small, And Build Momentum

In the trading business, there is pressure to succeed. Whether you trade part time or are trying to support yourself solely from your trading profits, it's hard not to want success. Think of all the advantages of having enough money to buy whatever you want: new cars, a bigger house, or a lavish lifestyle. If you believe the commercials on television, money can indeed buy happiness. Although we know deep down that money cannot buy happiness, we are often tempted by the values of our consumer society that tell us that it can. And when we are obsessed with making money, we start to believe that we absolutely must make the profits we desire. What usually happens next, however, is that we choke under the pressure. Our mind is consumed with how much money we must make, and we have trouble thinking calmly and clearly. Rather than looking forward to making our next trade, we cower. We dread making that next trade because we know that the actual profits we can make will fall short of our expectations. Suddenly, we are stuck in neutral. We sit motionless, unwilling to put on the next trade. This is a dangerous place to be. When we feel psychologically stuck, we are likely to trade in a lackadaisical state of mind. We don't search for the optimal trading setups, and we are easily discouraged.

When we set goals that exceed our skills, we know deep down that we can't reach them. We believe we will fail even before we try, and so we just give up. When we are obsessed with reaching a high performance standard, we feel uneasy. When this happens, it's necessary to relax, and set more modest goals. Rather than stress yourself out, you can think of goals that you can easily reach and try to build momentum after some initial success. For example, you may think, "I'm going to study a few hours and learn a new trading technique." This specific goal may not make you rich immediately, but it is easy to achieve, and will lead to personal satisfaction upon completion. It will get your mind going and you will start to feel motivated.

Next, you might try to build momentum by trying to do what you do best. Identify your best trading approach, and start doing it to build up some momentum. For example, if you know how to pick, and use, a particular trading method that works under a specific set of market conditions, use this method repeatedly to make progress. If you make the most profitable trades right before lunch, then trade at that moment, which is a time you feel most comfortable and are likely to make a profit. The key is to start small and work from there. Once you achieve a little success, you will start the ball rolling and start to trade more freely and creatively. You'll find that you can transform a slump into a productive work session. So don't get discouraged. Set modest goals, and get to work. You will start making profits in no time.


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