by Rick Ratchford
It's fair to say the great majority of those who enter into trading the markets do so to make money. Regardless of their overall goals, whether it be to make a living from trading or to simply increase their wealth, a trader enters this business for one main reason; to succeed at it.
As traders, we have the complete freedom to buy or sell in the markets. This is an incredible amount of power that each and every trader has at his disposal. What we do not have control over, however, are the market forces themselves. In other words, the market will do what the market will do, and that part of this business we do not control individually.
To be successful and profitable trading the markets requires that we do well with what we can control. What we can control are our actions. To control our actions well requires that we have strong positive mental habits. A good trading method is also important, but even the best approach will fail if used by a mind that is negative, lacks confidence, discipline and focus.
Our mind is more powerful than anyone can imagine. Over our lifetime, we have developed a particular attitude as a result of feedback from our parents, school, environment and friends. During this course, we have come to see the world and ourselves in a way that no other person can possibly know. Every experience plays some part in our own self-image, how we look at ourselves. If we have a healthy self-image, this manifests itself in various positive levels of achievement. However, if our self-image is negative, we would find ourselves unable to grab the brass ring of success.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be". This is profoundly true. There are many accounts about individuals who have met with disaster in their lives, whether it be an accident or illness of some kind, and yet do not let the shortcomings handed to them affect their happiness and ability to enjoy life. On the other hand, there are many more accounts of individuals who have allowed even the most minor setback to fill their life with depression, anger and self-pity.
Trading successfully requires that the trader have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Even if all our prior experiences were negative, our attitudes are continuously in a state of attention for instruction on how it should be from one minute to the next. We have an inner voice that continuously feeds our conscious and subconscious mind, and it is what we feed our mind from within that molds our attitude.
It is easy to develop a bad attitude about a number of things around us. We can be negative about other people, our job, our car, our bills, and our selves. And of course, we can be negative about our trading performance and point to everything other than our attitude as the problem and reason for failure.
If you are frustrated about your trading, consider the problem is likely due to your attitude.
To Succeed, Adjust Your Attitude
Some believe there is nothing that they can do about their attitude. It is their parents fault, or due to something or someone. This belief alone is spawned from a negative attitude. The question is whether you want a better attitude, regardless of why you think your attitude is as it is right now. If you WANT to succeed, you must WANT to improve your attitude. And you can if YOU WANT TO!
The mind can be trained, no matter how old you are or how long you have been doing something one way. When you walk, move your legs, hands and fingers, you do so without much thought on a conscious level. The reason for this is that you have developed a HABIT of doing certain things that it no longer requires conscious thought to perform. After something is done for some period of time on a conscious level, soon it becomes part of the subconscious and you have successfully trained your mind with new tools.
Take for example the Typist. When you first started to learn how to type, it required a great amount of conscious effort on your part. You had to CONCENTRATE on where the keys were located, which finger to use to press the proper key, and what you were required to type. Hours of practice was required over a period of time, and done regularly without letup, until you came to a point when typing was no longer a conscious effort but a subconscious one. As I am typing this article right now, I am not giving any thought as to where the letters are on my keyboard or which one of my fingers are pressing the letter at the time. Since I have been typing now for 27 years, it is now a habit and part of my subconscious.
Another example is learning to play the Piano. A conscious effort was required for a period of time, with a great amount of practice. However, soon that practice becomes a habit and then a part of your subconscious mind. You can enjoy the music of you fingers rather than concentrating on where a particular key is located.
Our attitude can be made to see things more positively if we make a CONCERTED EFFORT to talk to it about POSITIVE things rather than negative. If we make a constant effort to make sure that our inner voice is only speaking positive things about our present circumstances, whether it be the people around us or our jobs, whatever, in time it becomes easier to do and then becomes a HABIT. Once something becomes a habit, it is effortless and a part of us. It becomes a part of our subconscious mind.
As with any type of training, we need to have a plan as to what we can feed our mind. Here are some suggestions to start training your mind to have the RIGHT ATTITUDE TO SUCCEED.
1. Be enthusiastic about learning. If you want to succeed in trading, you must learn to enjoy the process involved. Think of each topic to learn in a positive light, as something that is going to help you reach your dreams. Which leads to the next suggestion;
2. Envision your success. See yourself where you want to be. Do you want to trade full-time at home, or trade for a large firm? See yourself already doing this in your mind. Experience the sounds and the feelings from inside as if you are already there. Do this regularly, several times a day. Although the conscious mind is aware of what you are doing, the subconscious mind is only aware of the experiences and information it being fed. It cannot tell the difference. Yet, it is the part of the brain we want to train as habits are held there. So feed it what you want to become a reality. Feed it the reality that you are a successful trader doing what you want to do.
To help you believe the power of the mind is as strong as I am suggesting, try this experiment. Close your eyes, and picture yourself cutting a lemon in half. Imagine the spray coming off the lemon and hitting your face and hands. Can you feel it? How about when it gets in your eye? Imagine that. Feel the sting? Now, imagine taking a bite of that lemon. Notice how your mouth starts to pucker as it senses the sour taste of that lemon? Yet, you are only eating it in your mind. It will do as you tell it to! So feed it only positive thoughts and watch how your mind will respond in a short period of time.
3. Keep focused on your goals. It helps to have a goal in the first place if you wish to be a success. A person without goals is a person with direction. Decide what is important to you and WRITE IT DOWN. Then, several times each day pick up your goals and read them. Do this religiously. By doing this you train your mind to find ways for you to achieve those goals. It will work on them day and night, even as you sleep. You will be presented internally with answers on how to overcome obstacles that separate you now from success. Keep focused on your goals and priorities, do not deviate, and you will achieve.
4. Do not allow the negativity from others affect you. If you are around negativity and find it is affecting you, stay far away from it. I have long ago trained my mind to believe that negative people are here to test the positive people, and that those truly positive will become more so in realizing this. But be careful. Even a solid rock cliff will slowly erode when constantly hit by ocean waves. Stay clear of constant negativity if at all possible. Surround yourself with positive people and positive things to read and do.
As you apply these suggestions, REMAIN OPTIMISTIC. Do NOT become discouraged or impatient. To become a good typist or pianist requires time, and this goes for anything worthwhile. If you TRULY and HONESTLY desire to achieve success in trading, then look at each day as another wonderful opportunity to learn at least one new thing about the markets, the techniques available, the process. Be POSITIVE about all the results from your learning, whether it appears what you have learned is useful or not. In fact, even something that does not work is a POSITIVE step in the right direction, because you become aware of the do's and don'ts that all successful traders need to know.
Regardless of the best trading rules and methods, if we do not have the right positive attitude, we will fail to execute the plan properly. We will find ways to fail, because we have allowed our mind to dwell on failure and that is all it understands. So start now if you have not already and develop that POSITIVE ATTITUDE. And I will see you in the winners circle.