I love this time of year. It’s a great time to reflect on the current year — how you grew, what you learned — and then think about what you might create next year.
In thinking about ways to take your trading to the next level, have you ever contemplated the idea of holding yourself publicly accountable?
I’m asking this because, earlier this year, I’ve been offered a full-time job at a trading/investment firm which would have me supervise a group of traders — helping them maintain stability of mind, advising them, and monitoring their performance.
It’s very interesting because that trading firm seems to put a lot of emphasis on accountability, so much so that they were ready to hire someone to help their traders outperformance their past performances.
This is in addition to having their regular trading supervisor who oversees all trading activities.
So it goes to show you: Accountability is a very powerful thing that most people ignore.
In a similar way, if retail traders could find a way to hold themselves accountable, it could help guide their progress and help them stay on course.
But, let this be crystal clear in your mind: Seeking help with accountability doesn’t mean we are seeking acknowledgment from others. Instead, it’s about sharing with an audience so that it increases the feeling of responsibility to complete a certain goal.
Which helps one stay on the path of progress and consistency.
Because let’s be honest, it’s not an easy task to pull yourself by your bootstraps (so to speak). And a little bit of outside help can make a huge difference.
Now, I’m a huge fan of Twitter as an accountability tool. But in this post, I’d like to offer two other suggestions.
1. Turn to family and friends.
Tell your family and friends about your goal and if necessary, do it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Sharing with an audience increases the feeling of responsibility to complete the goal or to uphold a commitment.
And report to them every day, week, or month, as needed.
Make sure the people you check in with know you enough to know if you’re telling the truth or not.
TWO VERY IMPORTANT:
- Try not to make it a monetary goal. This will put unnecessary pressure on you. Instead, make it a behavioral goal – e.g., my goal is to follow my plan this week, not obsess about the outcome of my trades, or get better at accepting losses as an inherent part of the game.
- Make sure you don’t share anything with Naysayers. These people are usually projecting their own fears and insecurities about themselves. Ignore the Naysayers. Don’t involve them in anything.
2. Create a group.
Very easy. Head on Facebook and create a group there. You can make it open to all members, or close it and invite fellow traders as you wish.
Create a cool name for your group, like Accountable Traders. (or whatnot.)
Once you’ve created a group, write a description and establish some guidelines.
You can run your group as you like, however, here are my recommendations:
- Limit the group to 15-20 members max. More than that and it gets difficult to track everyone.
- Make a commitment to each other, and care about upholding that commitment. For example, “We commit to reporting every day or every week. We also commit to holding fellow traders accountable and being good members of the group.”
- Each month, commit to doing a specific challenge or goal (it can be different for each member).
- Report to each other daily, weekly, or monthly.
- If someone hasn’t reported, maybe email them.
- If someone doesn’t report at all, agree that the person can be kicked out of the group and be replaced.
Those are just a few ideas I’ve thrown at you. Of course, if you don’t want to create such a group, you can just join one.
Now here’s the fun part.
Whether you’re choosing to report to family and friends, or you’re deciding to report to other fellow traders via Facebook or Twitter, ideally, decide on a consequence if you fail to uphold a certain commitment or goal a certain number of times (3 times in a row, for example).
Embarrassing consequences can be fun. For instance, make a pledge to give money to a political candidate or non-profit organization you dislike. (Huge motivator, trust me.)
I know how it feels like to struggle to make significant progress in trading. And I want you to know that even the slowest learners among us eventually learn.
Repetition is key. But accountability can help make the learning curve smoother and progress more linear.
Institutional traders have their managers to help with that – that person guides them and helps them stay on course.
However, we — retail traders — don’t have the luxury of having such an objective observer that would look over our shoulders, prevent us from deviating from our plan, and help us stay focused in a way that is consistent with our objectives.
We have to learn how to do it ourselves.
By seeking outside help with accountability, and by creating consequences for not upholding commitments and goals, you’ll be much more likely to stay on the path of progress and consistency.
Before I end this, you might be asking: “what about the job offer, did you accept it?”
Well, I had to kindly decline that offer. It sounded super cool on paper, but after sleeping on it, I realized that self-employment is true freedom even though it comes with a major caveat: Uncertainty.
Most people fantasize about the idea of self-employment but they hate uncertainty and would rather work for someone else because of the safety net. They like the order, comfort, and consistency of a time-clock-punching job.
Nothing wrong with that. Personally, I do what I do because I like what I do. It’s grown on me. And I’ve learned so much about myself in those last couple of years. And I’ve developed a reliable stream of income despite the uncertainty.
Through trial and error, I have organized my business in a way that doesn’t make me a slave to my computer. I’ve taken so long to build the kind of life that I’ve built, and there is no amount of money anyone could pay me to work for them so that I could give that up.