I’ve been considering some of the issues I discussed in my recent post What is a Professional Sports Trader? . In particular, the list of attributes that I feel a sports trader has to have or acquire to be successful. Now, while all of the characteristics I listed are important, or at least desirable, I think one in particular is essential. And that one is ….. OPTIMISM. In fact I would go as far to say that without optimism it is very difficult, if not impossible, for someone to a) learn to be a trader, and b) be successful at it.
Let me explain….
To me, optimism provides the fertile ground from which all a trader’s ideas, determination, discipline etc. can be germinated and grown. Without it, I struggle to see how someone can take on the challenge of trading – and it is a challenge! – or trade effectively in the markets. Unless we have the positive mental attitude that something is possible, whether it be to become a successful trader or that a particular trade could be successful, what hope have we that we will achieve our goals and aims?
A novice trader needs to be sufficiently optimistic that they can become a successful trader. That it’s both possible and realistic for them to achieve that goal. It’s the fuel that drives us to apply ourselves to the task, overcome difficulties and creatively solve problems. It provides us with the impetus to spend hour after hour in front of our screens, reading books and paying the cost of training courses because we truly believe that we can succeed. It helps us to place sufficient value in our goal, that we are prepared to invest our time, money and at times emotional discomfort to achieve it.
As a trader, optimism – along with the skills, knowledge and experience we have acquired over time – enables us to place trades time and time again. Why? Because we are sufficiently optimistic to a point where we believe that a trade has a sufficient probability of working. When we take a loss, optimism assists us in remaining disciplined in the knowledge that if we continue to exploit our edge and work our plan, the net result will be in our favour.
By nature we are not all optimistic. However I do believe that we can help ourselves to be so. I have suffered with anxiety and depression for many years, therefore I probably know better than most that from time to time life can feel quite bleak and that challenges can be overwhelming. I have learnt what ‘makes me tick’ and what I need to do to lift my spirits when my chin has dropped. Simple things like physical activity, positive self-talk and interacting with others can soon pull me round and enable me to apply myself to the task in hand.
I remember a colleague year ago telling me that, if you want to be somebody, e.g. a successful trader, behave like that person you wish to become. I might not have all of the skills, knowledge and experience to be a successful trader just yet, but I know that if I ‘fake it till I make it,’ that will provide me with the confidence that I will achieve my goal while I acquire those essential tools.
In other words, I find it helpful for me to view myself as a successful trader in training, rather than someone who is training to become a professional trader. The difference between the two is slight, but I believe important.