In contemporary society, we are bombarded with media images. We see luxury cars, designer clothes, and exotic vacation spots and picture how blissful we would feel if we had these prizes. If we could just get rich quick, we could have it all: Wealth, possessions and happiness. Images are motivating. If we could make a series of sure wins, we couldn’t wait until the markets opened.


Trading is not a sure thing, however. It’s challenging. It takes skills, skills that aren’t developed overnight, but after years of experience and hard work. Many traders are initially attracted to trading with images of wealth, but they soon find that trading isn’t easy money. Images that were once motivating are now frustrating reminders of how elusive financial success could be. Winning traders carry images that motivate them to persist and overcome seemingly endless setbacks. What images do you hold while trading? Do they motivate you in the right way?

If you think only about the profits you’ll make as a trader, you’ll be distracted. Winning traders don’t focus on profits as much as the process of trading. When you focus on profits, you suddenly start thinking that you “must” make profits, and when you feel that you are obligated to make profits, you put too much pressure on yourself, so much pressure that you crack under the strain. It’s useful to find other less threatening images to motivate you.

Trading online can seem a little boring at times. Some traders make it a little more exciting by imagining they are on the floor of the exchange. They hear floor traders yelling outbids. The frenzy of activity is exciting. Who cares about profits when you see so many people enthralled by what they are doing? A winning trader isn’t swayed by emotions, but during those times when trading seems like nothing more than staring at squiggles on a screen, it’s useful to recall the image of an exciting trading floor to remind yourself that you are part of something big.

While the jazz and excitement of the markets may motivate some traders, other traders are motivated by the intellectual challenge. To many traders, the quest to capitalize on the market action is a game or a puzzle. Who will win out? Will it be the bears or the bulls? Just like a tennis match, it’s fun to see what happens next. Can you anticipate what your opponent is going to do next?

Can you respond with the right winning strategy at the opportune moment? Other traders may imagine themselves as a detective looking for a clue to a mystery, or similarly, a scientist trying to discover the secrets of the universe. Rather than focusing on the profits, it’s fun to enjoy the process of trading, the joy of discovery or sense of mastery over a challenge.

For other traders, the sense of competition is a motivator, the joy of winning the game. It can be fun to compete for fun and see if you can be the winner. As long as you don’t put too much of your ego into winning, the thrill of competition can enhance your motivation. If you look at trading as a mere sport, you can trade more calmly and make winning trades. That said, focusing on competition isn’t for everyone. It’s more useful to look inward and follow your own standards for success, rather than feel you must beat out others. But to the extent you see trading as playful and fun, you’ll be able to take setbacks in stride and persist in even the toughest of market conditions.

How we think about trading dictates how we react. The images we carry around with us can have a profound psychological impact. Different people have different images that motivate them. Sports and competition motivate some people; trying to master intellectual pursuits motivates others. Discover what motivates you? You can look at trading from a variety of perspectives. Choose a set of images that you find personally motivating. The more motivated you are, the more easily you’ll be able to trade day in and day out, and achieve enduring financial success.

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