Taking the time to reflect on your trading performance, develop your self-awareness, and gain insights into your patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving is crucial.
My trading journey has been a series of light bulb moments, which I am sure is the same for many traders. Recording and reflecting trading performance was one of those moments. But the biggest leap forward in trading success and consistency was the realisation of self-awareness and then constantly developing the skill of self- reflection.
It seems straight forward - if recording my trading data and then analysing it helps my performance, surely, I should do the same for myself? However, understanding high performance and measuring who you are and how you trade can be difficult. The high-performance factors of skills, which we can understand, is learning how to trade, or Strategy which we can choose and develop. But State, and Situation can be tricky to evaluate and understand and improve.
I use several tools to systematically train my mind to observe my psychical as well as my psychological frame of mind. The tools and resources I use for reflection must contain some measurable parameters, which I write down so I can include them in my weekly/monthly review and forward planning.
For example: What am I feeling? What is the message or data? What do I want to do with it?
“Seeing emotions as data also allows you to perceive them differently and to experience them differently.” Steve Ward
I am developing a deliberate mind, where I can observe and label my thoughts and emotions. Emotions play a key part in trading, it gives me additional information about my trades, environment and recognising these and then writing them down helps my situational awareness so I can choose the most appropriate actions, rather than being controlled by emotions. I am therefore developing and becoming an emotionally intelligent trader.
I am recognising and assessing my emotions and then integrating those emotions into my thinking (decision making). I understand my emotions which in effect is data. I'm managing or regulating emotions which is the action. As I build a picture to make trading decisions, I am also building a picture of the self to run alongside my actual trades.
I regularly check in on body and mind to constantly record, reflect and reset if needed. I use SBNRR, Stop (Pause) Breathe, Notice (Body/Mind) Reflect (Data),
Respond (Effective Action) which leads to biofeedback for want of a better word and then mindfulness.
“As you become more and more comfortable with using an awareness of all that you are feeling on a physical as well as an emotional level you will make fewer poor decisions. In turn there will be fewer times when you need to recover from a bad day or drawdown. This alone will change your bottom line.” Denise Shull, Market Mind Games, 202.
Some of the tools I use are:-
- Meditation and gratitude
- A trading journal which includes several data points which I can use to reflect on my
- Exercising and maintaining physical fitness
- The awareness that trading psychology is core to trading
In conclusion, I’m putting trading psychology at the very heart of my high- performance attitude. I’m developing the skill of self-awareness and I'm recording my thoughts and emotions. I’m recognising what part they play in my decision-making and from this data set I can reflect and adjust my behaviour accordingly. I’m putting in place systematic tools to build up a picture of the self and then recording these by writing them down and later using it to reflect on myself in particular situations or particular trading environments.
This big picture thinking as well as the physical and psychological aspects feeds into the notion of trading data which means I’m continuously improving and developing self-mastery.