By Terry Macartney

In a previous article, in reference to Sam’s article “Seven Core Roles of the Home trader”, I looked briefly at skills and roles that you enjoy and spend a lot of your time on when trading. These are usually reflections of your primary personality type.

If you have a love for how things work, why they work and what the outcomes may be from a set of given circumstances, then your Analyst role may be in the driver’s seat. Perhaps in life you love adventure and risk-taking and this characteristic could express itself in a very active Trader role being dominant.

Over emphasis on any one or two roles, even if they come very naturally to you, is unlikely to produce a consistently profitable holistic trading approach.

However, what about those skills and roles that we don’t like or don’t do well? They are still a part of a holistic trader profile and will always need to be addressed. There are two areas here: roles that we do not have the skills or expertise in, and roles we tend to avoid.

For the former, perhaps outsourcing is the best option. Personally, I do not have great expertise in coding for EA development, and have no real interest in learning it as a new skill, so outsourcing is a great option.

Outsourcing could also be considered in relation to trading psychology and performance. An objective 2nd person feedback on how and what we are doing can spotlight characteristics that are so much a part of who we are that they have become invisible to us. A coach, trusted friend, colleague, chat room interaction or MasterMind group may be useful here.

Then there are the tasks and roles that we just try to avoid, even though we could be quite good and skilled in these areas. What’s that about? Some of the primary “reasons” for not doing something include:

  • Don’t know how to
  • Possibility of failure
  • Too much to do – overwhelmed
  • Not enough time
  • No immediate reward
  • Expectation of “having to do ….”
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Guilt

These “reasons” are all emotion based, and we experience them as negative or uncomfortable. Primarily they are fear based, but boredom, frustration and resentment can be in the mix as well. However, it is fear of some possible unpleasant consequence that is the primary emotion triggering avoidance.

Avoidance = Procrastination!

It’s a whole science in itself. Fear is a stressful experience. In order to move from stressful to stress-less, unpleasant to pleasant, we will often engage in an activity that allows us to temporarily feel better.

We go for short-term mood repair, rather than engaging in the activity, even though we know logically that we would be better off in the long run by doing the activity. We give in to temporary “feel good”. Procrastination as a response to fear inducing tasks can become a debilitating habit.

What can be done?

Once again, Socrates, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. Bringing mindful awareness to these sorts of situations allows us to see that emotions have powerful motivational properties, easily seen in fear producing fight or flight responses for example.

Mindfulness introduces the possibility of better emotional regulation, and from there, self-regulation. We see it’s possible to change our habitual responses and have greater choice in how we deal with stressful tasks.

Now we are at the doorway between mindful awareness and action. Action requires a commitment-to-action of some sort. Clear and achievable goal setting is very useful here.

Working with a colleague or coach to help establish realistic goals and offer accountability to encourage goal achievement is a good strategy.

When am I going to do it?

It is important now to set a time frame for action towards our goal. Otherwise we can slip into a complacent “I know what to do and I will do it when I have to”, which is just another form of procrastination.

How am I going to do it?

A surprisingly simple but effective technique is to apply an “If….then” strategy to your task.
It is called an implementation intention. (Peter Gollwitzer, New York University.) A great example of this in trading is the person who has difficulty “pulling the trigger” opening a trade.

This difficulty could be based on fear of loss, fear of making a mistake, or perhaps fear of not trusting his system sufficiently. He may well be an excellent analyst and a great developer of systems, however his Trader role is not strongly developed and entering trades is a stressful activity.

He procrastinates, waits for a better entry, or decides he really must have all 10 of his entry criteria met, not just 9. Of course, he misses the trade. With mindful introspection, he acknowledges his fear adversely affecting his trading and that he needs to, and can, respond differently to the task of entering trades.

He commits to a goal of entering the next 3 trades exactly according to his entry criteria. Perhaps to reinforce this decision, he enlists a coach or colleague to hold him accountable.

Next he applies the “if…then” technique. Very deliberately, consciously, at the start of his trading day, he establishes that “if my entry criteria are met while trading EUR/US today, then I will enter my trade.”

Perhaps he writes it on a piece of paper and has it in front of the monitor; perhaps he recites it to himself during the day. The point is he has made his decision to enter his trade when there is no stress. When the conditions are met, he is simply following instructions.

Give it a try

It’s deceptively simple and surprisingly effective. Find something you procrastinate about, see if you can identify what fear or emotion is causing that, then commit to a different response and set an action goal.

Maybe tell someone what you are going to do, and ask them to check in later to see if you have done it. Finally, ideally, write out your “if………happens, then I will…….” and have it where you can easily see and refer to it. When the conditions are met, simply follow your instructions!

About the Author

Terry Macartney is an FX and indices trader based in northern NSW, Australia. He is an Accountability Coach for traders and has established FXCellence as a coaching platform for working with traders and small businesses. Contact can be made here: FXCellence

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