Saturday, November 28, 2015

Energy, Well-Being, and Success: Four Steps to Energize Our Trading

An important concept is that our success depends just as much on managing our energy as managing our time and our tasks.  Indeed, if we prioritize our energy levels, we're likely to be happier and more productive: energy is a key link between well-being and productivity.

A while back, I suggested that the greatest performance mistake we can make is to prioritize our work, rather than prioritize the states in which we are most productive.  A great example of that is the person who doesn't feel they have the time to get into shape--and then loses far more time in a state of low energy.

Suppose we wanted to develop a program for boosting and sustaining our physical, emotional, and cognitive energy.  What positive habit patterns would we want to develop?  Here are four possibilities:

1)  Boost energy with exercise - Regular, challenging aerobic and strength training not only makes your body more efficient; it also helps you feel better and is associated with better overall health.

2)  Reduce energy drains with better sleep and nutrition - Both the quantity and quality of sleep profoundly impact mood levels, physical energy, and our ability to concentrate.  Weight gain decreases our energy level; managing our energy through sugar and caffeine puts us in an inefficient spiral of ups and downs.  

3)  Boost energy with positivity - We are most likely to be energized when we are engaged in meaningful personal, social, and work activity:  activities that affirm our deepest values, interests, and talents.  One of the best energy boosters is spend time with people we find inspiring and interesting.

4)  Reduce distractions and improve focus - Too often we waste our precious cognitive resources on processing information that we don't need and won't use.  Prioritizing our activities and using methods such as biofeedback and meditation to train ourselves to enter the zone can greatly improve the efficiency of our work and help us process information more effectively.

For traders, there is a synergistic benefit in developing these into habit patterns.  With more energy, greater positivity, and improved focus, we become better information processors.  We input information more effectively, gain improved access to the information, and combine the information better into new, creative outputs.  Equally important, when we're energized and free of distraction, we improve our implicit learning: our ability to apprehend patterns in noisy market information.  Our gut feel for markets crucially depends upon a clear mind, positive mood, and rested, energized body.

Further Reading:  Maximizing Personal Energy