Trading can be fast-paced. As an active trader, you must sift through a barrage of information, from media reports to earnings statements to unexpected national events. It’s hard sometimes to make sense of it all and to see which pieces of information actually impact the stocks you are trading in significant ways. What will happen next is never certain. Trading plans that you developed during off-hours may not match current market action. When things don’t click and fall into place in the way that you had planned, it can be stressful, confusing, and frustrating, but in all the confusion, it is vital that you keep cool and organized. Rather than try to do too much with the little time and energy you have, it’s vital that you stay focused.
The pressure to get things done in a short time can be a significant source of stress. And when your plans don’t seem to be working out, there’s psychological pressure to make difficult decisions quickly. Should you stick with your current trading plans, or look for new opportunities? There’s a need to be careful. You don’t want to make the wrong decision and miss out on a rare market opportunity. When you feel that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, it grates on your nerves. Suddenly, everything can seem unorganized, unstructured, and confusing.
One of the most effective ways to cope with the pressure to get more things done than you have time for is to change your time perception. Time perception is the degree to which people perceive their use of time as structured and as contributing to a specific goal or set of goals. When you’re frustrated and unsure of what to do next, you can feel that you are moving aimlessly back and forth among alternatives and getting nowhere. It’s as if you are out of control. At these times, it is necessary to return structure into your trading life. When you perceive that your time is structured and that you are working toward a specific purpose, you will feel calm and satisfied.
When frustrated by the markets, you can become an extreme perfectionist, afraid to make a mistake and unsure which path to take. To gain control, it is necessary to set clearly defined and realistic goals and make specific plans for how to reach these goals. When you feel especially confused, it makes sense to pick a few trading plans and focus on implementing them. Which should you pick? Pick the ones that seem to match the current market conditions, but don’t get hung up on it. Many traders make the mistake of thinking that they must choose the one right plan or else they will miss out on an important trading opportunity.
That may be the case. You may indeed pick a trading plan that wasn’t the best, but you could be wasting more time deliberating among plans and setups than taking decisive action, which can restore a feeling of control and direction. Once you implement at least one of the plans, you will naturally reward yourself, and feel that you have achieved a meaningful goal. You’ll feel back in control, and once again, enjoy the process of trading. Everything will start to feel as if it is coming together into a whole. When you perceive your time is structured, you will feel less stress and feel more satisfied with your overall trading experience. You’ll feel cool and organized, and trade more profitably.