Happy New Year my friends! It’s that time of year that brings renewed optimism for change; it’s when we usually find it easier to start afresh, with a blank slate, and think about the possibilities that the new year holds for us.
This is great!
This is great because it’s a gift, and I suggest you make the most of it! Not just by making it an intention to stick to your trading plans, but by reinventing the way you think.
If you’re going to make this year THE best year ever, then it’s important to implement an approach that will make that a reality.
Let’s look at how
Formulate your goals clearly
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Most traders have never been asked to contemplate questions like: “What do you hope to achieve in the market, and is it realistic?”, “Do you have a plan to get there?”, “What can or is preventing you from achieving your goals?” And so on. So, they walk through their journey with vague ideas about how to navigate the present to create the future they desire.
If you don’t spend some time reflecting on what you have achieved so far (your mistakes, failures, regrets, as well as your successes), things you could do better, your goals, what habits you need to change, etc., etc., then how can you improve? Because abstract answers to these questions will only give you abstract results.
Now, formulating your goals is one thing. Then you must formulate your intentions: why is it that you choose to follow your plan instead of your emotions? And as you approach the market every day, always remind yourself of that intention.
Learn to let go
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
~ Steve Maraboli
Many times we are held back by the slime of our previous failures and painful experiences in the markets. And this brings forth various emotions, negative thought patterns, and mental barriers that proliferate into our behavior. Although we can make an intention to start fresh with the new year, we can rarely sustain change if we cling to what holds us back.
What you’ve got to tell yourself is that all this is old baggage now! Don’t let yourself get caught up in those old patterns again. A fresh start demands a clean slate! If you want different results, this time, you’ve got to start doing things differently! Let go of attachments to what you’ve been doing for the past year (or years). Let go of failures, mistakes, and even successes. A clean slate is a clean slate. All you need to keep is your plan, and you must prepare yourself to execute it as it is.
Forget the money
It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
Best route to achieving outstanding returns? Quit thinking about the money so much! Instead, decide that you will focus on building qualities like perspective, vision, trust, patience, and discipline. In doing so, you will lower your expectations; you will be more open to learning, and you will trade from a more relaxed, impartial, and inquisitive state of mind.
When you learn to let go of the need to make money, losses gradually lose their power to perturb you.
Again, and I can’t say that enough (in fact, glue this to your monitor if you need to, but don’t forget it): An uncontrollable desire to make money will wreak havoc in your trading account. Forget the money. Focus on your process!
Reset your expectations
Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
~ Alexander Pope
This is directly linked to the previous point. Imagine asking someone to walk on one of those yellow or white surface markings on the road, without stepping outside of it.
Now, place that same line over a precipice. Still easy?
It’s the same line…
You see, trading is so hard because we make it hard. We obsess too much about the mountains of wealth it can help us generate and, as a result, we also fear the devastating losses. But this is not a good strategy to adopt because it makes trading strenuous when it shouldn’t be the case.
You have to cultivate a sense of detachment and let go of your expectations for this year so that you can become free to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, without over-thinking.
So, be mindful of the kind of expectations you are holding in your mind about how things are supposed to go.
Intentions = great!
Cultivate happiness, even when you lose
Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.
~ Zig Ziglar
Don’t look at happiness as something that will come to you when you have a winning trade, or when you’ve attained a certain accomplishment or certain amount of wealth or material possessions.
Don’t look at well-being as a destination, something that you’ll get later. I’ve been operating that way for years, and I can tell you, it’s made my life miserable as hell. Because my wellbeing was always dependant upon something which most of the time I didn’t have any control over.
Well-being is available to us at every moment, provided that we know how to look for it. Positive states of the mind are precious skills that can be learned, and for the most part, it’s just a question of habit.
So get into the habit of seeing the positive in every circumstance. I promise you, even the worst case scenario has a silver lining.
Also, when you’re doing something you’re passionate about (and I hope it’s trading), nothing “bad” can ever happen to you. Whatever happens and whatever you decide is worthy of your time, energy, and focus So rest as this condition. You’re doing what you love, and that is happiness.
Recalibrate your behavior, every day
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
~ Mother Teresa
Every day, we rise, as if born again. So every day we have this potential to reinvent ourselves and start fresh — not just on January 1st. And this means that every day we could learn to reformulate our intentions, recalibrate our behaviors, get out of bad habits, and thus move closer towards something that really matters to us. And that is really a gift.
Unfortunately, we’re so used to this passing of days that we don’t really see it as an opportunity. For us, one day leads to the other, and the other, and the other… Because of this continuous flow of experience, our mind automatically thinks that it has time, so it wastes it, delays things, etc..
But there is an illusion here that we’re not seeing: as days pass, we are slowly moving towards our death.
My friends, don’t let death, in the end, remind you how insubstantial your worries, anxieties, self-doubts, and self-criticisms were. Time is a precious asset. Don’t let it slip through your hands without having achieved anything worthwhile. Act now! You already have everything in you to be what you want to be and to do what you want to do.
The sooner you shed some unfruitful behaviors that held you back the past year (or years), the sooner you can work on improving your trading results and the quality of your experiences in the markets. Start where you are. The process of change is not about later — it’s about starting now.
More great posts on helping you make this year great: