Trading takes a lot of self-discipline. Self-discipline gets you consistency, and consistency makes success achievable within an acceptable amount of time.
But self-discipline is also very hard because some type of internal justification will suddenly make it “OK” to act against your trading plan.
That voice of justification will rationalize crossing the line you previously swore not to cross.
But, here are a few simple things you can do right now to help arrest this behavior:
1. Pick up a meditation practice
Most of the time, you aren’t even conscious when the rationalization is taking place. You’re so engrossed in the thoughts and they seem like good reasons at the time.
A consistent meditation practice will help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions as they’re happening. By simply observing and allowing thoughts to arise and pass, you’re building discipline and your ability to self-control.
As you’re sitting and watching the market unfold, try performing a breathing exercise like the Pranayama breathing technique or even the Wim Hoff technique.
This will help deactivate your sympathetic nervous system, which plays a strong role in producing the feeling that you must urgently act on an impulse to override your rules.
3. Develop a routine
If you swing trade, plan what you’ll do with your time when you’ve already initiated your trades. Keep yourself busy so that you’re not just sitting there and needlessly watching every market move or every fluctuation in your PnL.
If you day trade, reinforce your powers of awareness. Maybe even imagine that your mentee is behind your back watching you trade.
4. Formulate your reasons
Write down your reasons for self-discipline: What do you hope to achieve? Where do you see yourself? Visualize your success as a trader and you’ll be more motivated to reach it.
Also, on your way to achieving your goals, temptation and justifications will likely arise. Write down what you’ll do to make sure you don’t give in.
Make an affirmation to yourself that you will resist any temptation to override your plan, and visualize how you will benefit from your efforts.
Your willpower will last longer if you motivate yourself in such a way. It will strengthen your self-control by shifting your attention from immediate impulses to your goal.
6. Eat something, or have an energy drink
Studies show that a fall in willpower is often tied to lower glucose levels.
7. Use visual reminders
Use post-it notes around your home and workspace to constantly remind you of your goal and to remain strong.
8. Hang out with disciplined people
It’s very simple: you become who you hang out with. If you spend time with disciplined people, they’ll eventually rub on you.
That’s it. 8 very simple steps.
Without self-discipline, the dream you may have to make it as a successful trader will always remain just that — a dream.
So put in the work now. Commit. And remember, self-discipline is like a muscle. You should seek to exercise it, and by doing so, you’ll strengthen it.