The trading psychology conversation has many major concepts; such as managing your internal state, self-awareness, becoming internally aligned, having a results orientation in your thinking and holding yourself accountable for all of your results. Another concept that I’d like to explore in this missive is the very important notion of being in and trading in the moment … or in the NOW. How often have you found yourself at the crossroads in a trade and, rather than paying close attention to the task at hand in your trade, you become distracted by all the things that happened in your last trade. It doesn’t much matter whether it was something good, like a profit, or disappointing, like a loss. The long and short of it is that you became distracted (by accessing the past) in thought and feeling resulting in a “bone-headed” move on your part in the present. You may have revenge traded, became seduced by illusions in the chart, exited prematurely, etc. and, in all likelihood, it caused you to experience another disappointment. Now you are really stressed out because that singular distraction a moment ago has morphed into a two-headed monster and if you don’t take heed by refocusing in the NOW that two-headed monster will turn into a multi-headed hydra that keeps expanding at every failed attempt to deal with it. But, of course, “dealing with it” for most means doing the same thing over and over … and expecting a different result.
Being everywhere but in the present moment almost guarantees that you will not only become distracted due to ruminations on the past and/or worries about the future; neither of which you can do anything about; but it will also fragment your efforts and deteriorate your resolve. Rather than optimizing your internal and external resources, you are left “cursing the darkness” while out of touch with the reality of the charts and unaware of your internal motivations (usually limiting beliefs). Being in the moment is not just a concept; it is a powerful relational presence between you and your environment (internal and external). It is the realization and recognition that truly this moment is the only one that is real; the past is history and the future a mystery. In fact, you cannot “undo” any past event in that time frame. In this respect there are no do over’s. Your only viable options are a) learn from the event – which could also entail analysis and processing the event, b) accept it as a matter of record – meaning that you embrace it as the unchangeable fact that it is and c) move on! On the other hand, you can’t live in the future, it is futile to try. What’s infinitely more helpful is to plan for the future by anticipating what challenges might be between you and your goals and maintaining a strong “Towards” filter in your mind. A Towards filter means that you are using your brain/mind to envision how the identified goal will look, sound, feel, smell and taste when it has been achieved, thereby galvanizing your strength and endurance to do what it takes to in fact accomplish that goal.
When you are in the moment, for the moment, fully available, fully present and in the NOW of the trade potentially 100% of your system is online and ready to be tapped. You are firing on all cylinders and your highest and best trader is fully engaged. Let’s be clear, it’s not easy. Being in the moment requires self-awareness and a fierce focus on the task at hand. It means necessarily that you are on purpose, on target and on top of what needs to be done … now. It requires that you be deliberate in your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, making sure that you are managing your internal state and anticipating what could throw you off. Monitoring your internal dialogue is very helpful to being in and remaining in the moment. Also, taking a few moments early and often to take a deliberate deep breath and note what you are doing in that moment, what you are looking at and what you are hearing (taste and smell could be tracked as well). When you are in the moment you put yourself in a better position to be aligned in body, mind and emotions to go in the same direction and for the same goals. So do your A-Game a favor by orienting your brain/mind/body to the present. Begin to train yourself to be connected to the NOW of your trading. Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”
Written by Dr. Woody Johnson, Online Trading Academy Instructor. Dr. M. Woodruff Johnson has actively and successfully traded stock options, forex and futures since 2000. He is the former Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente, Watts Counseling and Learning Center. He holds certifications in Accelerated Learning, Neurosensory Development and hypnotherapy, and he is a Certified NLP Master Practitioner. Dr. Woody is also an Associate Professor and teaches graduate psychology courses at Pacific Oaks College and Ryokan College. He has provided clinical staff services in hospitals and community clinics as well. He has a passion for helping others to achieve their goals and get the results in trading and life that they desire. Dr. Woody has been using mind/body healing techniques both professionally and personally with much success for many years. He is the author of “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”