Friday, June 08, 2018

The Importance of Having One Big Thing to Work On

I've read hundreds if not thousands of journal entries during my years of working with traders.  One pattern shows up among the traders who make greater success:

Their performance journals are highly focused.

The trader surveys his or her trading and identifies one big thing to work on that will make the greatest difference to the bottom line.  They sustain that single focus until they have demonstrated significant progress.  Then they move to another "big thing" goal to work on.

The lesser successful traders recount everything that has happened in their trading and what they need to do better next time.  Lots of good intentions, not many concrete goals.

It is difficult to sustain a sense of urgency when working on many things at one time.  When there are many goals, it's easy for a priority at one time to distract from efforts at other priorities.  

When I see the progress of traders with many goals, it is difficult to pinpoint where they have made dramatic improvements.  The more successful traders seem to be working on fewer things but they actually get more accomplished.

Here's the framework I'm using for my own trading:  one prioritized goal per month.  Each day I have a specific plan for working on that goal and each day I review my recent work on the goal and modify my plan.  If there are roughly 20 trading days in the month, that means that I have at least 20 reps in my workout, 20 trials in my deliberate practice.  The reality is that I have more than that, because I take midday breaks in my trading and treat morning and afternoon as separate trading "days".  So that means 40 reps, working on just that one goal.

Then a new goal the next month.

And the next month.

By the end of the year, the idea is to have 12 big things that you've accomplished, each making you better.  That's a big outcome, and it springs from a small beginning:  a single important thing to work on that will make a positive difference in your trading.  Keeping a report card on your trading is huge.  Focusing that report card takes it to the next level.

What's your One Big Thing?

Further Reading: