Sunday, May 25, 2014

Setting the Right Goals: What is Your Something?

During the time I was in Alaska, I posted what I called Trader10P3:  Ten Principles of Peak Performance for Traders.  The principles were presented with questions, as I view the ideas as more than mere abstractions.  Potentially, they offer a framework for self-assessment:  Am I doing what I need to be doing not only to achieve success, but to maintain and extend it?

Goal-setting, in and of itself, does not make one a peak performer, as so many broken New Year's vows attest.  Goals need to direct effort, energize efforts, and structure efforts so that regular feedback can guide improvement.  Goals also need to be salient:  if they're not in your trading journal, they probably aren't occupying mindshare.

As Tony Robbins has pointed out, goals also need to be potent:  they must bring out the best in us.  Many times, goal-setting fails because it does not inspire.  Entries in journals about "I need to be more patient and wait for my trade" are well and good, but are they really specific enough to guide tomorrow's actions?  Will such goals have us springing out of bed eager to face the day, or are they more like a parent's admonitions to eat your veggies?

Think of it this way:  If you aspire to make a consistent living from trading, you are aspiring to be world-class.  Research suggests that the vast majority of market participants do not earn enough to overcome their trading overhead.  Even fewer sustain such earning power.  If you hope to make trading your career, you are hoping to be a world-class performer.

But you cannot be world-class at performance unless you are world-class as something specific.  A world-class pitcher needs world-class pitches or pitch placement.  A world-class basketball player needs to be a world-class scorer, rebounder, or defender.  Being good at a lot of things doesn't necessarily make you great at anything.  To be world-class, you've got to be great.

We can think about potent goals as greatness goals:  goals that bring out world-class performance.  It is one thing to frame a goal as "I need to be more patient"; quite another thing to embrace the goal of becoming world-class in entry execution.  Impotent goals chide; potent goals challenge and inspire.

So now, review the Trader10P3 and ask yourself where you will be world class:

*  In mastering the learning of new skills;
*  In applying specific talents to the trading of markets;
*  In self-mastery and the consistency of a performance mindset;
*  In research and development of fresh trading approaches;
*  In your continuous improvement of trading processes;
*  In your ability to adapt to changing markets;
*  In your ability to collaborate and learn with and from others;
*  In filtering and prioritizing your commitments, so that you internalize experiences that build you;
*  In sustaining activities that give energy and build productivity, rather than deplete you;
*  In maintaining creativity and fresh perspectives on trades and trading.

What makes any meaningful performance domain challenging--and noble--is that good enough is not good enough.  

World-class performers can't possibly be great at everything, but they have to be great at something.

What is your something?