Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Challenging Yourself and Changing Yourself

The recent post described how we can fire on all cylinders in trading--and in our lives.  A savvy trader I spoke with yesterday framed the issue quite well when he pointed out that it was easy to get so caught in the daily minutiae of markets that we never step back and address the big issues of performance and long-term success.

This brings us back to the issue of the dangers of having impotent goals.  A potent goal is a visionary one; it raises us to a new level, challenges us, and excites us.  Visionary goals are inherently idealistic:  not in the sense of pie-in-the-sky, but in the sense of speaking to our ideals.  Impotent goals, on the other hand, are utterly realistic.  They most often are coping goals--goals designed to get us over life's next hurdles.

There is nothing wrong with coping, and I resonate quite well with the bumper sticker that reads, "Forget world peace; visualize using your turn signal."  Dreams don't become realities without a healthy dose of realism and blocking-and-tackling execution.

But what happens when life becomes a daily sequence of blocking and tackling?  The part of us that needs to quarterback our lives needs a vision of the entire playing field.  That's why football quarterbacks drop back before they launch the ball forward.  It's the vision of the open player down field that sets up the big play.

If we don't have goals that challenge us, what will change us?  It's through challenge that we test our limits and exercise our strengths.  If we went to the gym and spent an hour lifting 20 pound weights, we would never build ourselves up.  Yet that is how we spend our time when we're immersed in the minutiae of markets, blocking and tackling, living life with head down.

One of the greatest poisons we can swallow is the wisdom that being idealistic is not realistic.  Those potent goals don't just change us; they energize us.  They are an important source of the well-being referenced in the previous post.  What is the vision for your marriage or your social life?  What is the vision for your physical development?  For the next phase of your trading evolution?  What ideal is so compelling that you won't want to spend more than one minute necessary in bed, because you're so eager to turn those dreams into realities?

In the past, I've shared my definition of old age:  It's that point at which you determine that your best years are behind you.  Nothing keeps us young and alive like the vision of what can be and the sense that we are moving toward that worthy vision.  It starts with how we live today:  we cannot achieve greatness unless we do at least some thing greatly right here in the present.  That's not a bad exercise for building positivity and keeping ourselves young:  each day identify one valuable thing you will perform greatly that day and then set time in your calendar to challenge--and change-- yourself.  

Many individual days lived greatly can add up to a great life.

Further Reading:  Why Living in the Future is the Best Way of Achieving It Now