Life is often mundane. It can be drudgery, getting up early every morning, dealing with the hassles of everyday life. And when you are worn out and fatigued, facing the trading day can seem like climbing Mount Everest in shorts and a T-shirt. If you’re in a slump, it is especially hard to pick yourself up and move forward. The whole world can seem like it’s against you. Every little mistake from your past pops into your head, incessantly reminding you of your vulnerability and inadequacy. What can you do? Here’s a list of ways you can pick yourself up and persist in the face of setbacks.
When you are feeling especially down, it may be useful to forget about your troubles and smile a little while. Allow yourself to engage in a little healthy denial. If you have a serious problem, denial is the last thing you want to do. For example, if you are deep in debt, you better find a new job, and fast, and build up your trading capital. Denying the problem will make matters worse. That said, a little, occasional denial couldn’t hurt. If you feel stuck, just pretend that for one day nothing matters. Tell yourself, “I’ll worry about my problems tomorrow, but today, I’m just going to enjoy myself and get something done.”
People who feel beaten are usually especially hard on themselves. They over-interpret a setback and imbue it with personal significance. They start thinking, “I’ve always been inadequate. This setback reflects my true nature. I’m a loser and I’m never going to change.” They attribute failures to a lack of innate talent. It is about them, and only about them, and it can’t be changed.
This is a very pessimistic outlook. Sometimes, a setback is a just bad luck. It has little to do with you. If you want to pick yourself up, think more optimistically. Even if overly positive beliefs are not entirely true, they can help motivate you. Rather than believe that trading requires an innate skill, for example, tell yourself, “There is no such thing as a natural-born trader.
Anyone can learn how to trade profitably, and thus, I can too. The more I practice, the more skilful I’ll become.” You might also remind yourself that just because you have traded poorly in the recent past, it doesn’t mean that you will trade poorly in the future. The past only dictates the future if you let it. It’s all right to build up your ego when you feel beaten down as long as you don’t get carried away. As long as you don’t trade beyond your skill level or trade recklessly, a little bit of extra confidence doesn’t hurt.
If your confidence is especially low, try to build yourself up. Don’t focus on all your past failures. Focus on every big accomplishment you have ever made. Put a positive spin on it. You might think, “Some people never make a single winning trade. The fact that I’ve traded profitably in the past proves that I can make it if I try hard enough.” Allow yourself to bask in the glory of past successes. Again, as long as you don’t go too far and start thinking you are one of the “Market Wizards,” building up your ego isn’t going to hurt you.
Another strategy you can use to feel better is to aim for modest goals. For example, if you lower your aspirations temporarily and just try to make a few small trades, you’ll increase your chances of success, and when you make a few winning trades, it will immediately lift your spirits.
Even the most confident traders can feel inadequate at times. If you are like most traders, you are ambitious. You want to be the best. It’s tempting to compare yourself to others and begin to dwell on how some of your life goals are still on your to-do list. Such comparisons don’t help you, however. You’ll tend to focus on what you don’t have instead of what you do have.
When you feel stuck and beaten, do whatever you can to feel good about yourself. Even if it takes a little denial, it can help. Beating yourself up and feeling miserable is a complete waste of time. It’s better to cultivate an optimistic, fighting spirit. Winning traders are persistent. If you can recover quickly from a setback, you’ll increase your chances of mastering the markets.