Jack has been having a bad month. He can’t seem to make a winning trade, and it is gnawing at him. He is starting to panic a little. As his account balance diminishes, he decides to take precautions. No more dinners out. No movies or entertainment. He figures that he had better live a monastic life until things turn around. To save on his cleaning bills, he even decides to wear the same clothes for a few days in a row. He also decides to never leave the house to save on gas bills. Even though it is a break in his daily routine, he decides the cost savings are essential. Over time, though, Jack is finding that his outlook is starting to get worse. He is starting to believe that he’ll never get out of his slump.
Jack’s approach to his current misfortunes may seem reasonable, but he pays a psychological price for his precautions. Although it isn’t wise to spend extravagantly, it doesn’t make sense to change your routine too much. When you do, you tell yourself a subtle message that something is wrong, and that it may be permanent. These subtle messages can change your outlook. Put simply, if you start thinking of yourself as a loser, you may start acting like one, and you may never get back up to par. Before you know it, you may be acting out a self-fulfilling prophecy where you expect to do poorly, you feel discouraged, and you indeed do poorly.
Trading is hard enough without making it even more difficult by thinking pessimistically. It’s easy to have a pessimistic outlook in which you view yourself as inadequate, you view your opportunities as limited, and you believe that there is nothing you can do about it. It may be essential to have a realistic outlook when it comes to the markets, but a pessimistic one is going to stop you dead in your tracks.
It is important to stay positive. Don’t break your winning routine. Don’t’ panic and start telling yourself that you are off your game and will never recover. Remind yourself that there are many temporary conditions that can go against you, but you don’t need to over-interpret them. It may mean nothing. If you are tired or feel over stressed, take a little break.
But realize that once you are rested, relaxed and ready to return, you can eventually get out of a slump. The key is to keep trying and stay optimistic enough to explore new possibilities and make trade after trade until things turn around. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our pessimistic expectations can powerfully influence us. If you are overly pessimistic, you won’t perform well. You won’t put in the extra bit of energy you need to move from mediocrity to become a winning trader. So remember to treat yourself well, and stay optimistic. If you can cultivate a winning attitude, you can weather the storm and trade profitably over the long run.