Sometimes success is a matter of making the most of a few key moments. Those hoping to gain acceptance to a prestigious college, for example, must perform well for a few key moments on a standardized test. Olympic athletes prepare their whole lives to perform at their best for a critical moment in order to win the Gold Medal. Trading can be much the same way.
Though there are many opportunities, you must identify those specific opportunities where you can succeed, and be ready to take advantage of these opportunities and perform optimally. It’s crucial to be at your peak during these key moments. You must be prepared and ready to take full advantage of the opportunity. Ideally, you should be fully rested, relaxed and ready for action. But people’s personal physiology differs as well as their psychology. It’s vital to ascertain your physical and psychological limitations and work around them, so you can be ready to capitalize on critical trading opportunities.
You don’t need to perform at a peak performance state every minute of your life. If you are one of the few who can give it your all 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then you are blessed. The rest of us have human limitations. We can only work for a limited number of hours a day, and if we try to work in marathon stretches, it eventually catches up with us and is shown by our weak performance. In the end, it’s a matter of personally-identifying how many hours you can perform at your peak performance state, and developing a specific plan to make sure you have enough rest and relaxation to work in this optimal state when it is necessary.
So how does one operate at peak performance? How do you work “in the zone” and be ready to move in synchrony with the ebb and flow of the markets? Putting yourself into the right state of mind requires energy, both physical and psychological. From a physical standpoint, you must be rested.
If that means that you need to get 12 hours of sleep a night, then, by all means, get it. If that means you can only trade for a few hours a day, for only three days a week, then, by all means, do it. The point is that you must know your own personal limitations and how to maximize your energy level. Don’t view trading as a 9-to-5 job where you must put in the full 40-60 hour workweek.
If trying to uphold such a schedule wears you down to the point that you have little energy to trade at your best, then your effort will not be cost-effective. You’ll put in more time than you will receive rewards. Indeed, you will likely put in a great deal of time only to fail in the long run. So figure out how much sleep, leisure time, relaxation, and to exercise you need to maintain a high level of energy, allocate that time carefully, and maximize your energy level for when you need it.
Trading in a peak performance state is also a matter of maximizing your psychological energy for those key moments when you need it the most. If you have a lot of psychological baggage in the back of your mind, you’ll spend a significant part of your precious psychological energy devoted to thinking about past conflicts and trying to find a resolution, whether you are conscious of it or not. Identifying any psychological problems and resolving them is crucial. It will free up the psychological energy you need to trade in a peak performance state.
You may not have to resolve every single conflict, but again, you must develop a practical strategy for working around these psychological issues. For example, perhaps you find that you can concentrate for only three hours a day without your attention being compromised by thinking about personal psychological conflict or past upsetting events. If that is the case, plan on trading only for those three hours a day where you can trade optimally. Don’t unrealistically think you can work longer than your personal limitations allow.
Part of trading profitably is the acknowledgement of your limitations and putting together sensible ways to work around them. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to live up to expectations that you personally just can’t achieve (such as putting in 60 hours a week or going without enough sleep). One major component in trading profitably is cultivating the proper mindset. And to do so, you must be rested, focused, and ready to put in extra-human energy to capitalize on those moments when ideal trading opportunities materialize.