Despite what most people think, there are times when we just aren’t at the top of our game. We try to put on a trade, but our heart just isn’t in it. What do you do when this happens? Do you press on and hope for the best or stand aside and wait to feel better before you tackle the markets again? Depending on how upset you are, it’s usually a good idea to stand aside.
In his classic book, “Riding Through the Downers, Hassles, Snags, and Funks,” Innerworth advisory board member Dr. Ari Kiev suggests that when you’re in an emotional slump, it’s wise to take a break; take it easy before getting back into the game. When you are in a slump and feeling especially bad about it, you may not recover as fast as you think. If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t try to jog two miles a day.
You would stay off your feet until you recovered. If you had a high fever, you wouldn’t jump in a cold pool and swim a few laps. When physically ill, your body can’t take it. You would end up feeling worse when it was all over. It is vital that you rest and recover Similarly, when you aren’t feeling up to par, and have wavering confidence, it’s wise to say out of the markets until you are feeling better.
At first glance, this advice may seem counterintuitive. Throughout our lives, we’ve been told over and over, “At first if you don’t succeed, try again.” It may be necessary to try again, but it may not be a good idea to try again when you aren’t ready. Give yourself a break. Your body and mind have limits. When you are feeling low, a lot of your mental energy is spent trying to buck yourself up or feigning happiness so that no one will suspect you’re in a slump. But avoidance of your feelings usually takes up a great deal of psychological energy.
It’s necessary to admit that you feel a little beaten, frustrated, and need some time to recover. If you try to trade while still feeling down, you’ll probably make several trading errors. You will end up giving back profits, and feeling guilty about it. At that point, you’ll set up a vicious cycle of making mistakes, feeling guilty about it, making more mistakes, losing even more money, and feeling even worse. You will not only feel bad, but you will feel bad about feeling bad. A better solution is to stand aside. Take it easy and rest up.
A common mistake is to ignore your feelings and just push yourself to keep going. When you are a seasoned trader who is not feeling very badly, this may work. But if you are relatively new to the trading profession and are feeling down, you will find that the harder you push yourself, the more you’ll feel let down and frustrated. Instead of pushing yourself beyond your limits, calm down, rest and cultivate a fighting spirit.
Dr. Kiev suggests that when you are fully rested and ready to get up again to tackle your goals, it’s wise to hold back a little. Find a level of activity at which you can comfortably function. Don’t be overly ambitious. Pick a modest goal and work dutifully to achieve it. Start slowly and work your way up to bigger achievements. If you try to immediately make big profits before you have fully recovered psychologically, you’ll overly focus on trying to achieve unrealistic results and applause instead of focusing on the process of trading, which is the key to enduring success. The more you focus on honing your skills rather than merely making big profits, the more you will reach a higher level of skill.
It may seem counterintuitive to take a break when feeling in a slump. But it works. Don’t fall for the conventional view of success as making huge profits even when you aren’t psychologically fit. It’s better to work at your own pace and focus on the process of trading. If you hone your skills in a calm yet deliberate manner and take breaks when your psychological energy or confidence is depleted, you come back with a tough, fighting spirit that in the end, will help you achieve lasting success.