Topic Discussed: Visualization as a secret weapon for traders
The Trader’s Couch series explores behaviors and psychologies that undermines traders performance, then offers practical activities and solutions traders can employ to advance their development and performance.
Those that participate in any performance-related field realize that as you move toward the top of the pyramid the thing that separates champions from everyone else is the mind. The differences in skill level diminishes to the point of insignificance. Those that can harness the mind as an ally, rather than a passive bystander or worse, an enemy, will be the ones who emerge as champions. Do as much research as you want. I believe you’ll find that the vast majority of champions in any field will credit visualization as a tool they used to make it to the top.
Visualization – Technique of Champions
“What you do is CREATE a VISION of who you want to become and then live into that picture as if it were already true” Arnold Schwarzenegger
How exactly does this pertain to trading?
Well, to put it simply, everything. Still skeptical? Listen to what Mark Douglas, author of “Trading in the Zone” has to say.
“The successful trader that you want to become is a future “projection” of yourself for you to grow into”
Know who you want to become
In the mentorship workshops I host, one of our first primary objectives is for aspiring traders to define the trader they want to become. This is the “visualization” and “projection” that Arnold and Mark Douglas refer to. You have to be able to hold in your mind’s eye the trader you want to become. Once your “future trader visualization” is formed, then the task becomes breaking down all the necessary elements that it will take for the trader to grow into that vision. This is the big difference between wishful thinking and effective visualization. It takes real work to “grow into” that picture of success. But it’s that belief that powers you through the tough times and the naysayers.
The idea that “thoughts are things” is real. If you can’t imagine it, there’s no way to achieve it. Here’s how Jack Nicklaus used visualization to help him win 18 major championships along with 19 second place finishes.
Likewise, each trader needs to “run the movie” of the trader they want to become. Once done, its all about execution.
How to form your Visualization
It is very important to spend quality time to carefully consider that “ideal Trader” you want to become. It may take you several weeks to crystallize the ideas into a cogent vision. The visualization you come up with should stand the test of time. If you’re constantly fiddling with it or changing course every 3 months you’ll never gain momentum toward realization. Take your time and get it right.
Listed below are some components of your “ideal trader” that you may want to consider.
- What is your central purpose for trading?
- Describe elements of the “ideal trader” you aim to become.
Beliefs and Values
- Why is trading important to you? What beliefs about trading will you have? Markets? Money? Defining Success?
Capabilities and Skills
- What capabilities and skills will you have?
- How will you be behaving; what will you be doing?
- What will your surroundings look like?
Work on the attributes of the “new you”. Jot down some ideas, then let them percolate for a couple of days before revisiting it. The things that are most important to you will naturally bubble up over time.
Creating a list of Visualization keywords
What I did as an intermediate step was to brainstorm a list of keywords that described the trader I wanted to become. Maybe this exercise will help you too. Here’s my list.
Consistently profitable; defensive trader who respects risk; emotionally stable; TA-driven; swing trader; option trader; craftsman; professional; flexible and fluid thinker; strong work ethic; organized; Teacher
Creating your Visualization
I ended up incorporating many of the important themes into my visualization. Here is the visualization I have been using for myself for years.
I am a consistently profitable, TA- driven, professional options swing trader. I work hard to master myself in order to be an emotionally disciplined, defensive trader. My goal is financial independence and to help others achieve the same.
Pulling it all together
So, given the above, what specific actions will you need to take to grow into your ideal trader? You may find you have quite a laundry list of things that need to be accomplished. Again, perfectly normal. Do your best to do first things first. There are no short cuts. While consistent profitability may be the end game, possibly a first step in that process is to eliminate big, out-sized losses. Trading legend Peter Brandt observes that beginning traders bet way too big. Maybe a first step in eliminating big losses is to trade smaller and in proportion to the size of your account. Take a step by step approach. This is what “growing into your vision” is all about. Stay focused on the long game. It takes most traders 3-7 years to achieve full comfort and a level of consistency in the markets. You won’t be any different.
Here is a link to a post where Peter Brandt shares his wisdom from 45 years as a proprietary trader. Essential information for aspiring traders. Find it HERE
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