Saturday, September 08, 2007

Finding Solutions to Trading Problems

My readers have outdone me! I like my post on creating powerful emotional experiences, but the reader comments to that post are even better. Please read the comment by Glen Bowman, Ph.D.; it is unusually insightful.

There are several lessons to be learned from his experience:

1) Psychological change does not come all at once - His valuable point is that change occurs a little bit at a time, day after day, as we create new experiences for ourselves. Over time, we internalize the feedback from those new experiences and they become parts of our identity. Making one big effort is not nearly as powerful as making focused, consistent efforts over time. In that sense, psychological development is like physical development: you have to work out with regularity to see lasting results.

2) The solutions to trading problems are within you - If you have a trading problem, a powerful way to address it is to figure out how you've dealt with a similar problem in a different area of your life. If, for example, you're in a trading slump and doubting yourself, it's worthwhile figuring out how you've gotten past dips in self-confidence at other times in your life (at work, in relationships, etc.). Whatever you've done to aid your confidence and trust in yourself at those times may well hold the key to what will work for you in the trading situation. Dr. Bowman drew upon his experience with social anxiety to address trading anxiety. Brilliant.

3) When implementing new solutions, start small - Dr. Bowman uses the example of trading 100 SPY rather than 50 ES contracts. That is exactly the right approach. Why? It removes the pressure of profit/loss from the trading and allows you to simply focus on making changes to your trading processes. Once you get the processes down with consistency, then you gradually raise your trading size. But you have to earn the right to trade 500 SPY if you've been trading 100 and 200; you have to earn the right to trade multiple ES contracts if you've been trading a single one. So often, the difference between success and failure among developing traders is that the successful traders make just as many mistakes as the unsuccessful ones; they just make them smaller and thus survive their learning curves.

My thanks to Dr. Bowman and the many readers who take the time to comment on the blog posts. I hope readers take advantage of these fine insights.


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