I talk a lot about how to make your trading as boring as watching a bad documentary. But what does it take to get to where your trading is done by rote? Almost like it was done by a robot servant. A robot servant that will carry out your chores, exercise, or follow the QiT signals on autopilot.
Good news is you already have a robot servant. It’s called habits.
Getting to AutoPilot
I can’t tell you how many people ask me where I get the motivation to hit the gym as often as I do. It seems like an innocent enough question but I find I’m mystified by it. I don’t need to find motivation. Going to the gym has been part of my daily routine since the Romans drag raced their chariots in the Parthenon.
Programming your behaviors into habits is as easy as the daily routine of walking into the kitchen each morning, scooping coffee into the coffee maker and hitting the on button. Of course, if you have Keurig, it would be as easy as walking into the kitchen, plopping in a Keurig Pod and hitting the on button.
With a small amount of initial discipline, you can create a new habit (autopilot) that requires little effort to maintain.
Here are 10 ways to instill a new habit:
1. 30 Days – Three to four weeks is all it takes for a new habit to take hold and become automatic. Commit to entering the trades as they are posted for the next 30 days. If you don’t make it the whole 30 days, start over again at day #1 (Hey don’t blame me for this one because this came straight outta Mark Douglas’ Trading in the Zone). After you make a few tries at this and get all the way to day 20, mess up, don’t follow the signals as posted and have to start all over again, I bet you dollars to doughnuts you will stick with it.
2. Set aside the exact time each day – Consistency is your friend. Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick like static electricity sticks cellophane to your fingers. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for thirty days but make the rule you are going at 7:00 PM, a time you know will be free to go. Make a rule, “I will enter my trades at X:00 PM” (insert your own time here, you can’t expect me to do everything) because you know the signals will have been posted by then and it is before your bedtime.”
3. Remove Temptation – Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you. If you are embarking on a diet, remove the Doritos that wink at you each time you go into the pantry. If you’re trying to quit smoking remove everyone in your house who smokes. If your spouse still smokes, he/she won’t mind you getting them a motel room for a short 30-day stay. If you are trying to build a habit of following the rules, do not have CNBC running when you sit down to enter the nightly trades.
4. Expect Imperfection – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. This is an experiment and like the experiments you attempted in 9th grade, sometimes they blow up in your face and you’re left with green goo all over you. Examine what happened and try again. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so it will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.
5. Write it Down – A piece of paper with a resolution on it is just a piece of paper with a few symbols on it. The actual physical act of writing it, however, is what makes this rule vital. Writing makes your ideas clearer and focuses you on your end result. Write, “I will follow the rules” and stick it where you can see it every day.
6. Use your “But” No, not butt, but! When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word “but” to interrupt it. “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing, but, I will not do this tomorrow.” “I didn’t follow the rules today BUT I will follow them tomorrow.”
7. Get a Buddy – This sounds so new age I hesitated to put it in here but hear me out. This works. I may spend a lot of time at the gym but that does not mean I have awesome workouts every time I go. Some days the only thing I exercise is my jaw muscles and sort of make eye contact with the machines (hey, Cybex, how ya doing today. You look tired so I’ll leave you alone). However, on Monday night I work out with a trainer and Wednesday night with a buddy. Those workouts are ALWAYS awesome. Find someone who will hold you accountable.
8. Know the Benefits – Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making this change. All the posted metrics for each portfolio are based on the premise that you enter each and every trade as posted. Not just some of them, some of the time or at whatever price you deem is the best.
9. Know the Pain – You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.
10. Cut yourself some slack. Habits are hard to change because, well, they’re habits. There’s a reason why they are hard to break.
We need Habits to survive a day
We go through most of our days engaging in good habits, routines, and activities. If we didn’t, everything we did every day would be something we’d have to think about. Instead, we’re wired to learn and put in place activities that sustain us without giving it a moment’s thought.
From the time you bumble your way to the bathroom in the morning to get rid of your “overnight breath,” to your morning commute where you have a “habit” of following traffic rules. From the habits you need to get you through your workday to kicking off your shoes when you get home so everyone in the house can trip over them, you are on autopilot a fair amount of the time.
That frees your mind and your energy for new situations and new problems that require new decisions, creativity, actions. Unfortunately, the brain really doesn’t discriminate between the bad habits and the good ones.
We’re the Plan in “Plan your Trade and Trade your Plan” – TraderJanie
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