Your trading mindset: A helpful thought experiment

YODAImagine a visitor from the future came to you and said, “I can tell you for certain that you will be a successful trader. I’ve seen the future and the results of your trading. You will profit in a way that is consistent and enjoyable and doesn’t depend on luck.”

Would you be glad to hear that?

Now, what if that visitor from the future then says, “Not only have I seen the end result, I’ve also seen the process that gets you there, and you will have to make some adjustments along the way. Is that all right with you?”

If you’d tell her yes, continue reading.

She then says, “You have a habit of being right about the market’s direction, but wrong about when to enter. You will have to carefully review the trades you have made, identify where you entered too early or too late, and change your timing. Are you willing to do that? Remember, I’ve seen your future and you do become a successful trader.”

If you’d tell her yes, continue reading.

What if she then says, “The easiest way to look back and review your trading and the thoughts and feelings that were going on is to keep a trading journal. Most successful traders keep one. Is that OK with you as well?”

If you’d tell her yes, continue reading.

Now what if she then says, “You also sometimes hold on to trades too long, hoping to milk every last dollar out of the move. Instead you teach yourself to stick to an exit plan and not be too greedy. I’m just telling you what’s on the path to that absolutely guaranteed success I’ve seen in your future. Is that OK with you?”

If you’d tell her yes, continue reading.

Now, what if she says, “You also sometimes fail to pull the trigger in time, and end up chasing the market and failing to profit even though you were right. You learn eventually to trust yourself. It’s not an easy path, but you do learn eventually. On that path to certain success I told you about. Is that OK?”What are you pretending not to know?

If you’d tell her yes…read on.

Then she looks you in the eye and says, “You finally learn, after a paying a lot of tuition to the school of painful experience, to have a plan and stick to it! Can you see yourself doing that? Remember, I’ve seen that successful future and the path to it is paved with carefully laid plans, executed with discipline and professionalism. Are you ready to become that kind of trader?”

If you would take a deep breath and say yes to that…well, read on.

Now, what if she says, “And the hardest part is that you need to unlearn some of the things you’ve been programmed to believe about money and about yourself. It’s not going to make people love you more, for example. You take a while to learn that, but eventually you do and it’s a big relief. Also, your parents, bless them, drilled a whole lot of guilt into you about whether you deserved success. You have to unlearn that, too. And there’s one more thing. It’s a big one …

To become great at anything, including trading, you have to come to terms with a powerful and difficult question, “What are you pretending not to know?” Are you prepared to do that? Because that’s what the future holds for you, at least that future that leads to you becoming a successful and happy trader. Is that path still OK with you? Because if it isn’t, you can still walk away from that path by not doing these things.”

If you’re still reading, then I assume you would have said yes to that imaginary visitor from the future. And that you’d be willing to make those adjustments along the path to a guaranteed, 100% certain future as a successful and happy trader. Ask yourself again: Would you like, no, love such a future if someone could come back in time and tell you for sure that it was waiting for you?

And would you be willing to make those adjustments in your thinking and trading that the visitor from the future listed, along the way to that guaranteed happy and successful future?

Then answer one final question: How is that different from the reality you are living in now?

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