Have you ever had one of those days where you wished you had stayed in bed rather than executed your first trade of the day? Perhaps you excitedly put together a trading plan the night before only to get a poor fill when the markets opened the next morning. Maybe you were just in a bad mood and frustrated that nothing was going right. Some seasoned, trading experts warn against trading while upset or frustrated. You may be prone to making mistakes. Many times, it’s better to just stand aside. But walking away can make you feel as if you have been defeated. And if you stand aside too often, you may feel as if you aren’t giving trading your best shot.It can feel as if you are prematurely walking away from a challenge rather than gaining new experiences or learning how to overcome new obstacles. It may not be a good idea to stubbornly try to trade in market conditions that aren’t conducive to your trading style, but there is a compromise: You can move from a “doing” mode to a “being” mode. Rather than force yourself to actively trade, you can just relax and appreciate the complexity and beauty of the markets.
During the trading day, and often during off-hours, we are consumed with doing whatever we can to make a profit. We plan, anticipate, and find solutions to trading problems. We search for a winning trading strategy, even if it means ineffectually coercing ourselves to find a way to profit from the market action. But trading is a creative endeavour. It’s a combination of looking for historical patterns and using your intuition to decide whether history is actually going to repeat itself at this time and at this moment. When it comes to using your intuition and creative skills, you have to be free, open, and ready to accurately perceive what the markets are doing. It’s an art. You can’t force yourself to be creative. You have to let a creative idea come to you. But when you’re upset, frustrated, and forcing yourself to find a winning strategy, you often choke under the pressure. You’re closed off. You can’t see what you need to see.
When you’re having a bad trading day, you can’t see clearly. You can be stuck in a “doing” mode, trying to take action, and frustrated because you can’t figure out what do to next. You can get caught up trying to find solutions and taking decisive action, and get mentally overloaded with details. You’re overly emotional. You’re frustrated and overwhelmed. When things get that bad, you just can’t think clearly enough to actually take action. The solutions to problems don’t come easily, and it is quite possible that you’ll make trading errors. Is it time to give up? Maybe. But an alternative is to move from a “doing” mode where you are trying to take action to a “being” mode.
Rather than trying to execute a trade, which is the main concern of the “doing” mode, you can try to merely observe and study the markets. Rather than try to take charge, you can be a mere observer. Rather than pushing yourself to figure out what trade to execute in the next few moments, you can settle for merely observing the markets. You can take a rest, relax, and just study the markets.
When you fully commit to avoid making a trade in the next few moments and are content with merely being a student of the markets, you’ll free up psychological energy. As you start to calm down, your creative juices will flow freely again. Suddenly, solutions that eluded you in the “doing” mode become obvious while in the “being” mode. You’ll once again feel free and creative, and when your head is a little clearer, so are your perceptions and intuitions. Soon, you’ve moved from mental stagnation to trading in the zone.
So if you find yourself frustrated and stuck, and fruitlessly trying to push yourself to the limits, stop. Allow your mind to step aside. Breathe freely and relax. There are times when you have to just stop and appreciate the complexity and beauty of the markets. When you do, you’ll naturally see new ways to trade freely, calmly, and profitably.