Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Power of Repetition: Coaching Traders Linkfest

The previous post emphasized the importance of daily trading goals. The challenge for traders, however, is not simply to set goals, but to turn the achievement of goals into consistent habit patterns. When coaching--including self-coaching--doesn't work, it's often because traders initially reached their goals, but then relapsed into old patterns.

Such relapse occurs even when traders are ready to make changes. If change efforts are not made in powerful ways, and especially if they are not rehearsed to the point where they become automatic, the gravity of our old patterns becomes too great and we easily return to what we've overlearned. This is why repetition is key to making coaching efforts work. Through repetition, we internalize changes: they begin to feel normal and natural to us. When we rehearse new patterns of thought and behavior and link those to distinctive states of consciousness, we can summon those patterns whenever we re-enter that state.

If you can teach yourself to enter a state of focused relaxation each day and--in that state--mentally rehearse good trading practices, you will create a situation in which just taking a few deep breaths during trading can tip the scales and help you gain access to your best practices. As I stressed in an earlier post, the idea is not to become your own shrink, but rather to expand your mind's scope.

A key idea from the trader performance book is that practice multiplies experience. That is the key to learning how to trade, and it is the key to self-change. A key idea from the trading psychology book is that the solutions to our trading problems are already occurring, if we can just identify them and become more consistent in recruiting them. It is the consistency of change efforts that contributes to their permanence. The links in this post--and the links within those posts--should get you started on your self-coaching journey. My next post will outline what you can do if you encounter roadblocks on that journey.