While many people realize the power of language patterns over outcome of many endeavors, few make a conscious and substantial effort to actually use positive patterns in their speech and – perhaps most important – thinking.
Countless psychology books describe a – now well known – fact that human brain will attempt to find answers to whatever questions are asked of it. It’s the way the neurons are firing inside that roughly 3-pound hunk of gray matter of ours. If after a streak of trading losses you ask yourself ‘WHY have I been sucking so badly lately?!”, your brain will seek, and undoubtedly find, several compelling answers, further reinforcing the mistakes you’ve been making and paving the way for more of them in the future.
If, instead, the question is phrased in a positive and optimistic fashion - ‘What changes do I need to make to correct my recent and uncharacteristic mistakes?’, your always accommodating brain will quickly come up with improvement steps, which – if implemented, of course – will lead the way to better results. Framing of the questions in one’s internal dialogue is one of the relatively easy, but very important steps we can take to enhance performance in any endeavor, including, of course, trading.
Following this theme, take a moment and think about recent instances when you used the word ‘just’. In my opinion, ‘just’ is a dirty word that should be eliminated from trader’s lexicon. It creates a haze of false optimism around reality, along with a fresh dash of hopium. It whispers things like ‘I’m not wrong, I’m JUST a little early’. ‘Just’ is a word we often use to soften the blow to breaking previously established (and well thought out) plans. It creates an excuse to not be disciplined as it eases the negative impact of what we are about to do right when we are about to break a promise or abandon a plan. Sure, there’s the famous Nike’s ‘JUST DO IT’ slogan, which is meant to deliver a positive message, but take an inventory of your ‘just’ usage patterns in your internal dialogue or in your speech; you’ll be surprised at how disproportionate the negative/positive ratio is.
More often than not ‘just’ is not ‘JUST another push up’, ‘JUST another 10 minutes of preparation for tomorrow’s trading day’. It is ‘I’ll have JUST another donut before I start this weight loss plan’; it’s ‘JUST another cigarette before I quit’; it’s “I know I shouldn’t drive after drinking at this party, but it’s JUST a couple of miles’; it’s ‘I’ll give it JUST 20 more cents from my stop-loss’.
So before you say ‘just’ next time, think ‘am I giving myself an excuse to not be disciplined and do what’s necessary to achieve the best results that I can?!’ We all know that discipline is one of the important key differences between successful traders and the ones that blow up over and over again. Next time you catch yourself thinking “I’ll JUST give it 20 more cents below my hard stop” or ‘I’ll JUST give it one more day’, realize that nothing’s more important than executing your trading plan. While losses are an unavoidable part of the game, make sure you keep them at ‘JUST a flesh wound’ level. Do yourself a favor and next time you catch yourself using ‘just’ to soften the blow…
JUST DON’T DO IT!