Trading in The Moment

Discussion in 'Trading' started by Joe Ross, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. How does a trader live in the moment? Perhaps the first step is just intellectually considering the existentialists' proposition that anxiety is sometimes a matter of focusing on, and mulling over, the past, or worrying about the future. When you consider it, it seems reasonable to think that if you could just forget about the past and avoid thinking about the future, you will live in the present. It seems unrealistic and perhaps a little reckless, however, since it is often prudent to both learn from past mistakes and to make sure you avoid potential adverse events. But again, when you do so, it takes you out of the moment. You start to analyze and remove yourself from the ongoing experience rather than enjoying it. In contrast, trying to stay in the moment will keep you focused on the trade. And by focusing all your energy on the trade of the moment, you will reach that higher level of awareness where you'll see the market more clearly and be able to run through all possibilities at lightening speed.

    These concepts sound good in theory, but how do you put these ideas into practice? First it may all depend on how many past conflicts you have in the back of your mind and your self-esteem. If you are unsure of your abilities, it's hard not to worry about the future, especially when you are facing extreme pressure in the midst of a trade. If you are easily shaken by uncertainty and stress, your mind will tend to wander toward your past mistakes and regrets and you'll tend to question your ability to control your destiny. But, if on the other hand, you are especially confident, you are not likely to be troubled by your past, and can more easily live in the moment. That said, it may be extremely difficult for some to live in the moment for very long, or to stay there and completely cast aside all past regrets or worries about the future. You can strive to reach this state of existence for a short time, however, at least long enough to evaluate a trade and take decisive action. The first step is to monitor your thoughts and identify instances where you are mulling over the past. The second step is to actively try to push such thoughts out of your awareness. For example, you may think, "I wish I hadn't lost so much money on my last trade," or "I'm frustrated that I've had so many losing trades." You may think these thoughts throughout the day and it's difficult to just shut them out. But it is definitely possible to put them aside for about an hour, while you monitor a trade and decide what action to take next. You may similarly worry about the future: "I wonder if I will keep losing or will I finally make huge gains?" After you are aware of the kinds of thoughts that indicate you are mulling over the past or worrying about the future, such thoughts can be pushed aside temporarily. It may be necessary to yell "stop" or think, "Don't think about that right now; I can consider these issues later, after I'm done evaluating my trade." Now, using these strategies won't put you in that ideal mental state where you are completely in the moment, but it will help you get to a mental state that is close to the ideal. It may take some practice, but you can eventually reach this mental state.

    The best traders are not self-conscious about their mistakes. They don't regret past mistakes or worry about the future. They live in the moment. You can also live in the moment, if you practice cultivating the proper mindset. When you reach this peak level of experience, you'll not only be more profitable, you will enjoy trading, and find it to be fulfilling in its own right.
  2. I like to sing to back ground music, that works for me.
  3. I'm not sure if you were kidding or not, but I always listen to music when I trade. It helps me focus.
  4. Myshkin


    Truly beautiful piece, Mister Joe, but I just want to dissect it a little as I am seeing it from a perspective that says it should be in the "Psychology" or maybe even "Religion" forum.
    Anyway, from a Buddhist perspective, IMHO, it is impossible to be truly IN THE MOMENT and trade because we have to have an idea/thought that if it does this, then we do that. Sure, it may be ALMOST automatic but there is nothing in the pure awareness of NOW that will give rise to getting in and out of a position, which requires a "why" I am doing this. Again, IMHO, there is not one thought that actually is in the moment, I mean even the thought about what you are experiencing right now, like "the long position i just got into is dropping like a car of a cliff" is the thought born from visual awareness' experience of a rapidly growing red bar on the screen's chart a split second earlier and it will be another cognitive process that translates that into "losing my gluteus maximus, whadoidonow?" from there, a hopefully speedy recognition that "if i do nothing and wait, yes, it could come back BUT past experience has told me that often it continues to the point of searing mental anguish and i will dump ir precisely at the low of the day..." or some such inner dialogue that is pulling us out of the moment, if only by some infinitesimal amount of time.
    Sure it is just semantics but this "in the moment" catchphrase caught my eye and i's a fan of buddhism and the like. In support, I get the idea that it is much better to be in a state of peaceful awareness as you trade as it keeps them there self-sabotaging emotions off your keyboard and helps with making decisions without agonizing over pulling the trigger on your stopped out loss or getting into the position. Your words remind me of something Tom Basso suggested in the New Market Wizards interview, "think of each trade as just one of the next thousand trades you will take." It helps to take off any would-be gravity from the trade and helps you to be quietly aware (or "in the moment" if you must use those words).

    Have a great weekend and much thanks for your other posts as they are always great niblets for the mind to try to digest :D