A statement I hear from traders all the time is: “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to succeed at trading.”
Are they though? …Really?
In fact, sometimes people tell me: “I’m doing everything I can to succeed at this”.
But their actions don’t reflect that in any way.
For most people, including those who make the claims, it’s simply not the case that they’re going to do whatever it takes. And that’s fine! We all have our own priorities and responsibilities, and when push comes to shove, we might not be ready to sacrifice them.
However, this means we need to be more realistic about our expectations for our progress and results. To help you get a better understanding of this, I want you to take part in a quick exercise that will help you to put things in perspective.
Grab your notepad and let’s get started…
Step 1: The ideal at your stage
Imagine you’re at a professional trading academy, similar to what they have for nurturing talent at world-class sports teams. Every minute of every day is designed by experts to enhance your development. Everything from what you eat to how you sleep is optimised by specialists to help you reach your best levels of performance. No stone is left unturned.
I want you to write a list of all the things you think you’d do if you were in that situation at the same stage you’re at now in your development.
How would you be training? How would you be preparing? What would your schedule look like? What would your nutrition and sleep be like? What behaviours and habits would you have developed? What would your priorities be?
Really go to town on that list. Think about all the things you’d do to progress past the stage you’re at now if time, money and resources were not a factor.
What you should end up with is a list of the ideal and most professional ways to develop at the stage you’re at now (to the best of your knowledge).
Step 2: Taking a look at reality
Now I want you to take a separate sheet of paper and write down a list of what you’re actually doing to develop your trading.
Be brutally honest and try not to write down what you’re supposed to be doing or what you aspire to do. It has to be what you’re genuinely doing each day, week or month.
For most people, this list will be a lot shorter than the first list. In fact, just going through this step might already open your eyes to what you need to improve. But we’re not done yet…
Step 3: What would you have to sacrifice?
Achieving high performance in anything takes a huge amount of sacrifice in many ways. That’s why truly world-class performers are few and far between; it takes an extreme amount of dedication.
Unfortunately, this level of commitment to developing a skill is not feasible for most people for a variety of reasons. That’s why, in this step, you’re going to get really honest and realistic with yourself.
Compare the list from step 1 to the one from step 2 and see what’s missing from the latter. Think about what you would need to sacrifice if you wanted to add them. Perhaps it’s time? Flexibility? Other activities? Family time? Other work?
Now consider if you’re willing to make those sacrifices. You should find that for some you are and others you aren’t; this is all part of finding your balance and compromising on what you’re comfortable doing or not.
You should end up with a final list of what you’re really willing to do to succeed at trading. Now you have something realistic, it’s time to make it practical…
Step 4: Making it a practical commitment
It’s one thing to say what you’re willing to do and another thing to do it. Now you need to put together an action plan of how it’s going to happen.
The most important thing to remember for this step is that the best plans are the ones we can stick to consistently. That means they need to be sustainable. The most draining schedule in the world might mean you get lots done in a short space of time, but you’ll either give up or burn yourself out long before you reach your goal.
Break down the activities into the most bite-size, easy to achieve tasks and remember to keep in mind your current priorities and responsibilities.
Then, all that’s left is to follow through with it. This part is entirely up to you and how much you want to achieve your trading goals.
But whether you put this plan into action or not, just going through this exercise can be really eye-opening. By completing these steps, you’ll have a better idea of where you could be doing more but aren’t. When you reflect on why that is, you may realise that achieving your trading goal isn’t as important as you first thought. On the other hand, if it is, you’ll now know exactly what you need to do to make it happen!