The human mind is capable of vast abilities. When you are relaxed late at night, sitting in a hot tub, and dreaming of what your future might be like, it’s easy to imagine that you are a super-trader with unlimited potential. “I’ll be able to trade for hours. I can hone my skills until I’ll see hidden opportunities that will make me a fortune.” As your mind runs wild, you will euphorically think of the ideal life. The human mind is, indeed, capable of fantastic things. And unfortunately, one of them is the ability to create a vivid fantasy world that seems almost real at times. But fantasy isn’t reality. Your mind has limits, and it’s vital for your survival to work within your limits.
You’re not omnipotent. Your psychological resources are limited. Although you might be able to fantasize that you can trade for hours, it’s difficult to keep up such a fast pace. Humans can only concentrate for so long before getting tired. Usually, people can concentrate for about 50 minutes before they become so worn out that their mind starts to wander. Give yourself a break. Don’t stare at your screens for an entire 50 minutes. Besides losing your ability to concentrate after a while, you’re putting a strain on your body.
It’s important that you get up and move around. A popular trick is to have a bottle of water at your workstation. Drink the water to stay refreshed, but also drink it so that your body will work as a biological timer to remind you to get up, go to the restroom, and take a real break. When you take that break, remember to do some stretching, and walk around to loosen up your muscles and release tension.
Also, keep in mind that your ability to maintain self-control is limited. Self-control and discipline work like a muscle. Just as you can only do so much physical activity before your body needs to rest, you can only control your impulses for so long. Realize your limits.
If you haven’t worked out your self-control “muscles” for a long time, you will have trouble controlling your impulses. Determine how much self-control “stamina” you have, and only trade within your current ability to stay controlled. Again, don’t think you are a super-human. You have limited psychological resources.
Don’t underestimate the amount of rest and sleep you need. In modern life, we are constantly trying to do more than we have time to do. Oftentimes, we think we can do without sleep. But we can’t. You need to sleep. When you’re tired, you will have difficulty concentrating and controlling your impulses. It is important to practice good sleep hygiene to ensure that you are thoroughly rested.
For example, don’t work in your bed. Restrict your sleep to specific times and a specific place. If you are on the West coast, try to make your sleep cycle coincide with East coast time. That may mean skipping West coast television programming that tempts you to go to stay up late. Sleep is the single most important factor in maintaining psychological stamina. Don’t underestimate its significance.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting your limitations. You are not a super-human and that’s all right. Trying to trade beyond your current abilities or overly taxing your psychological resources is a straight path to disaster. In the end, you’ll be your own worst enemy. Assess your limitations and work around them. The more aware you are of your psychological abilities, the more you will be able to make the most of what you have and trade like a winner.