Do you find it difficult to stick to your trading plan throughout the life of your trades? Does it get progressively harder the longer the trade goes on?
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. The vast majority of the traders I speak with feel this way. It’s how I personally felt for years!
It’s kinda like trying to light a match in the wind for most people. If you’re a little further along, you lit the match and started fire. But things happen throughout the day. Life gets busy. You have loads of other responsibilities outside of trading. A day job. Kids to look after.
By the end of the day, you’re wiped! The rationale you had for your trade a week ago is a distant memory. The market is moving against you. The fight or flight mechanism in your brain kicks in. You get a sudden rush of energy but it often leads to rash decisions and you’re not sticking to your trading plan.
At the end of the day, you’re left there kicking yourself exclaiming ‘Not again!’ …At least that’s what happens if your name is Mike Lamothe for the first 10 years or so of trading.
So how do we stop this? How do we break the cycle of not sticking with our trading plan? How do we not only start the fire, but FEED THE FIRE???
I have a 3 step daily routine that kept me energized enough to not only stick with my trading plans, but has allowed me to perform at a level that helped me quit my day job, spend more time with my family, and help thousands of traders around the world.
STEP 1: Morning Routine:
You may have heard that many of the top performers in the world have killer morning routines. Whether you’re following Yvan Byeajee, Mark Minervini, Brendon Buchard, Robin Sharma, Tony Robbins, or myself a common thread is the morning routine.
“Win your morning, win your day” as Tim Ferris says.
Here’s what I do and why:
- a) Meditate
- b) Read
- c) Write
- d) Exercise
Meditate (20 minutes):
Specifically, I do the Tony Robbins’ priming exercise each morning. Aside from the visualization, gratitude, and mission components of the exercise, Tony also includes light exercise to kick things off! This helps drop cortisol levels and allows us to focus deeper.
Read (20 minutes):
If we want continuous self-improvement, this is the perfect time for it. You may have heard that the average CEO reads about a book a week. This is how they get it done! They may have taken a speed reading course as well (I highly recommend Jim Kwik’s speed reading course, I went from about 240wpm to about 800wpm avg and great comprehension). Get your reading on!
If you want some great recommendations, check out my book recommendation.
Write (20 minutes):
I keep a gratitude journal and day/week/month planner rolled up into one. It’s the Brendon Burchard ‘ High-Performance Planner’. At this point in my morning I’m able to think through my entire day and plan it in the way I’d like to see it play out. It doesn’t always happen according to plan but that’s okay. We plan for contingencies as well. Think through some of the things that might throw us for a loop.
Click here to grab the planner.
Exercise: (30 minutes):
Our minds work best when we’re physically fit. We have more energy throughout the day when we’re physically fit. We tend to make better food choices when we’re physically fit. If you care about not only about sticking to your trading plan and making profits in the market but about being around for a long time to enjoy them, this is crucial!
The exercise you do can be anything that gets your heart rate up. Pre-COVID I was going to Crunch Fitness and doing 4 HIIT classes, 1 Spin Class, and 2 days of free weights. Since then it’s turned into free weights in the garage and running 3-5 miles daily.
Keep in mind the distance doesn’t matter. The intensity matters and what’s intense for you is going to be different for the next person. Much like the market, play your own game.
If you’re someone that crushes your morning but still find that you fade during the day, you’re also not alone. Again, this is the equivalent of gathering the kindling, lighting the fire, getting it going… and then walking away.
You’ve gotta FEED that thing baby!
Here’s how you can keep your energy up throughout the day…
STEP 2. Hourly Routine:
This may seem radical, maybe even unnecessary, but if you likely need more breaks. I’m not talking about an extended lunch or more vacation time (though those things are great too). I’m talking about working intentionally for 50 minutes and then taking a 10-minute break EVERY HOUR.
Think of it like this. Have you ever seen race cars going around a track? If not, can you picture it in your mind? If not, hop on YouTube for 2 minutes and watch one.
Okay, everyone is on board now.
Those cars race for about 60 laps. They take regular pit stops. They get refueled, change the tires, cleaned up, and then they keep going at top speed. They’re not trying to get ahead by taking the least amount of breaks. IF they did, sure they may get a lap or two ahead at first. But they’d burn themselves out and break down.
THEY GO FASTER BY TAKING MORE BREAKS. …So can you!
Here’s what I do every hour:
- Work for 50 minutes (following whatever was planned out for the day during the morning routine).
- A 10-minute break where I get up, move around, stretch, and/or dance!
- Drink some water (about 10oz)
- Do a ‘Release’ meditation for 3 minutes. The purpose is to release tension from the body and mind. Then I can refocus on my ‘A’ game for whatever the next 50 minutes will be.
STEP 3: Evening Routine
I fell flat here for years. Falling flat at the end of the day makes starting the fire the following morning harder. However, if we keep the embers going with a great evening routine, the following day is dramatically easier.
My evening routine includes more journaling, no eating 2hrs prior to sleep, and limited screen time 1hr prior to sleep. Prolonged exposure to screens prior to sleep can mess with your circadian rhythm making it both harder to fall asleep and yielding a less restful sleep.
The evening journal includes writing down what happened during the day that I’m grateful for. What went well. Was I able to stick to my plan? What could I need to work on to help make things better tomorrow. I’ll then step outside of myself and ask ‘If I was my own high-performance coach, what advice would I give myself?’ This dissociation from self can help us think more objectively and stick more easily to our trading plan.
All this is done with pen and paper in the High-Performance Planner mentioned earlier in this post. There’s something about the tactile nature of pen and paper that we don’t get with electronics. Plus, doing it on paper allows us to get away from the screens.
This is a routine that has helped me experience super performance in the market (+12,000% between August 2019 and February 2020):
It’s also given me more time during the day through more consistent focus, higher energy, less lethargy, and less distraction.
Installing New Routines
New routines take time to install. We often start out gung ho but there comes a period where it’ll be challenging. Where you’ll question why you started this in the first place. At this point its easy to fall back into old habits. Don’t let that happen! Keep track of the number of days you’ve put into the new habit. Start a streak and keep the streak alive!
It takes about 66 days to install a new habit to where its now a part of you and automatic.
If all of these are brand new to you and you don’t have a good wake up routine, start with that. Simply get up at the same time every day. I suggest making your wakeup time 2 hours prior to the rest of your house. This gives ample time to go through the whole morning routine plus take a shower.
For me, this often means getting up at about 4:45 am. I’ll go to bed between 9 pm and 10 pm most nights.
This is how you feed the fire and stick to your trading plan. I hope you’ve found this guest post helpful to you! I want to thank Yvan for giving me the opportunity to speak with you. It’s an incredible honor!
I also made this video that speaks even more on these routines and how to implement them: