Trading In The Zone

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by PinkBunny, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. There are two books published called "Trading In The Zone" - one by Douglas, the other by Ari Kiev. From my understanding, the Zone is a state of heightened alertness, where fear and chatter no longer matter - decisions are handed over to a deeper level of thought, empowered by the subconscious, while time loses its meaning. Peak performance is maintained and decisions are made without error. Thinking about the presence in the zone will bring one out of it.

    In all endeavors, the peak performers enter the zone when necessary, which separates them from the rest. They operate on a six senth, letting their subconscious guide them; the top athletes perform without hinderance from fear but instictively make decisions in less time than it would take for any conscious thought to run across the mind. They operate out of the zone.

    I am bringing this up because I am deeply curious if anyone on these boards experiences this on a regular basis; where trading is an extension of your relaxed self and without worry - you just read and react to the market without interference from cognitive bias or mental chatter while in a heightened state of medative alertness.

    Is what I'm writing about an illusion? Is trading an activity where, with few exceptions, it must be approached from a grounded, chatter-full, slightly stressed mental framework, where a minimal level of emotional volatility exists despite the trading community's knowledge of outcome detachment? If you reach the zone, do you use meditative or spiritual techniques outside of your trading?

    How long can you stay in the zone for? Does your conscious chatter interrupt the flow of market information when the market is in a choppy, slow period? Can extended practice remove that? Is it possible to stay in the zone for an entire session? Do great spiritual benefits arise from doing so? Can a floor trader stay in the zone?

    Is the zone more emotion filled than I am imagining (in regards to trading). As I write this, I have a mental image of a floor trader who is completely engaged in reading the price and crowd sentiment and acting subconsciously, yet not feeling a sense of detachment and emotionally affected by his surroundings and the crowd sentiment as well as his trading. Is that description more like what can be reached in practice, or can the trading zone be completely relaxed and stress free?

    I would greatly appreciate some insight from those who have achieved what I am fascinated by...
  2. Mark Douglas's book, despite the catchy title is much more pragmatic than that (I highly recommend it but it has little to do with the recent usage of "in the zone").
  3. I've read them both; Kiev's is primarily on maintaining the zone, Douglas' is on why traders psychologically make the mistakes they do. Regardless, my question still stands: is "the zone" a marketing gimmick that some traders rarely go into during intense market activity or a sustainable mindset that can be consciously induced through practice?
  4. Hi PinkBunny,

    Do some digging about a fellow called Csikszentmihalyi. He has done probably the most complete research on the notion of 'the flow' top performers can get into.

    Kind regards,
  5. I was in touch with my subconscious mind once a week under hypnosis and being treated for alcoholism by a psychiatrist.

    In my opinion, trading with your subconscious mind would be a big mistake, even if you could do it.

    I read one of these books and was unimpressed.
  6. I think people have different ideas of what "the zone" really is. Hoodooman said its a mistake to trade with your subconscious. Probably correct if you think that trading with the subconscious means you are not trading with the conscious mind. That does not sound like something I want to do. Although I have had some moments where that may have been exactly what I was doing!

    My opinion of the zone is just a very relaxed state of mind where your actions flow. There is no effort, or seriously reduced effort. You are not stressed, and things just feel right. I can easily relate to it when I play pool. The less I try, the more I win.

    A lot of my trading is done just by watching price action. If I am trying too hard, it does not work as well. If I am relaxed and comfortable, not trying to make things happen (in the zone?) then the trades come easily and they usually work out much better for my P&L.

    Darkhorse recommended a book "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence increses When You Think Less" An excellent book on the subject.

    The author talks about using more of your subconscious mind in all things. That does not mean going into a trance and making all your decisions. it means that there are millions of things going on in your life at every second. Your conscious mind cannot pick up or pay attention to all these things. Your subconscious mind on the other hand can process much more info and then pass on to your conscious mind any relevant info.

    An example would be have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? Then you turn around and someone is watching you? Well you did not consciously see or hear that person, but your subconscious mind picked up on the person and warned you about it.

    Have you ever met someone for the first time and got a really creepy feeling about them? Then days, weeks, or months later you found out other info that confirmed the creepy fellings? Maybe you saw them on Dateline NBC going to meet a 13 year old? According to the author the subconscious mind picks up all kinds of clues, vibrations, scents, body language, etc. It processes the info unbiased and passes on any relevant info to the conscious mind.

    I think it works for trading because it puts you in a more relxed state where you can pay attention to the subtle clues that your subconscious is passing along to you. Sometimes those "gut feelings" are just your subconscious mind screaming at you to take the trade, or not take the trade.

    I think we all use it, but some people are more keyed into it than others. Its funny because the harder you try, the less you can actually use it.
  7. The subconscious can only do one thing. It can't feel, smell or see. All it can do is hear. So when you are a child, for example, and you are exposed to racist comments, it will influence your way of thinking when you are an adult.

    The subconscious is very primitive. To assume otherwise is to be uninformed.
  8. Whaaaattt ?????
  9. In Kiev's case, it's most likely a marketing gimmick. In Douglas's case, it's not.

    However, trading in what Douglas calls "the zone" is not something you walk into without preparation. Many Douglas readers tend to drift past all the requirements he places on the trader to reach that zone, e.g., developing a consistently profitable strategy. Given that developing such a strategy is work, they prefer instead to focus on tuning in to whatever cosmic awareness they think they've been told is their goal.

    Simply put, the zone is where you end up once you've thoroughly developed, tested, and implemented a consistently profitable strategy and have done so to the point where you not only trust it completely but it also becomes completely automatic. You accept the fact of loss, you know how much loss to expect, so you're no longer afraid of loss. Being no longer afraid of loss and knowing that your strategy is a consistently profitable one, you act without a lot of hand-wringing and helplessness.

    But none of this happens without developing the strategy, which few newcomers are willing to do. They prefer to focus on what indicator to use and whether to enter on the close of the bar or the cross through the blue line.

  10. I have to say that the zone does exits, I´ve experienced it not only trading but playing a video game, chess, or going downhill on a mtb...
    Is a state of mind where you dont think about much else than the task at hand... you just react, you don´t think about all the obstacles ahead of you, you figure the best way to get through them. You dont focus on the problems you focus in the objectives, yet you dont actually ignore the problems you are able to react in such a way that you can leave them behind without second thoughts.
    Going into this zone, takes a lot of experience, some guts and a little madness {at least for downhill riding...}
    #10     Sep 15, 2006