disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to
--Dalai Lama XIV,
The Act of Happiness
Investors don’t always have the discipline to act like a Nike ‘Just do it’ advertisement. I recently had a trading buddy of mine lament about his struggles to stay motivated. He held me up as his model of a well-disciplined trader. I was both flattered and intimidated by his statement, but it’s hardly a secret that one of the keys to successful investing is to stay engaged and enthused.
To be candid, I’d never really considered that question in totality as it pertains to my trading, so his comment became the catalyst for some introspective exploration of how I stay the course. I’d like to share with you my thoughts – not in any particular order, just a stream of consciousness listing:
- I am a man of routines. No doubt all those years of doing two workouts a day as a track athlete ingrained in me a certain internal momentum. As a runner, I maintained my competitive advantage in races because of my daily discipline. The correlation was clear and unambiguous. I loved the athletic rewards, and I was able to focus on those rewards during my 6 AM workouts. With trading, I love a winning trade. I focus on that as I run through the 6 AM routines at my desk. Whether it’s the monetary profits won or just the personal sense of improvement and accomplishment, I feel I’m one step closer to my goals with each routine I follow.
- I always take a breather – sometimes within the trading day, other times after the markets close. I think it’s a mistake to be rigid and inflexible. I create my own schedule and feel blessed that I’m in a profession which accommodates that flexibility. I like the quote by Gretchen Rubin “to keep going, I have to allow myself to stop.” On an annual basis, I must be candid and tell you that I don’t trade actively 12 months a year. Read the Stock Traders Almanac and you can guess which months I pull back. If I managed other people’s money, I could hardly do that. When I jump back into the markets full-time each Fall, I invariably approach my work with recharged vigor and a refreshed outlook.
- This rejuvenation in part explains why I teach college stock market classes in the Fall. The contagious enthusiasm of a room full of like-minded investors brings out the best in me, not to mention the benefits bestowed upon me by the old cliché “when you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.” There’s nothing like 100 students facing you every Wednesday night to encourage one’s own discipline!
- To be brutally honest with myself, the last two decades I’ve been driven in part by wanting to be an outstanding role model for my son, now a college sophomore. I didn’t trade the market from home, but went downtown to my office every day as he hustled off to school. Those of you who are parents know that there is no greater reward than to have your own child embrace a similar work ethic.
- As I said earlier, I’m not rigid with my time or my investing approach. With a flexible mindset, I’m open to trying different methodologies, indicators and websites that break up my usual routines. I acknowledge that I’m a very different investor now than I was some two decades ago and that is a direct result of my willingness to experience new approaches. I’m motivated each day by the knowledge that I’ve progressed and improved as both a trader and a person, and I’m therefore energized to continue venturing out beyond my comfort zone.
- Each new year, I review my financial performance, revisit the vision I have for myself, and take stock (pardon the pun) of both the progress I’ve made as well as the impediments that have stood in my way during the year. When I identify any negatives, I pledge to remove them from my life if they threaten my well-being, my performance or my motivation. If I can honestly tell myself that I did a commendable job over the past year, then I reward myself. Talk about motivation: the new Shelby has a November production date!
- And finally, a tip of the hat as well to my trading buddies to whom I talk regularly and who are willing to share with me their passion for the markets. It is a truism that “you become the company you keep.” I’ve been mentored and coached by some of the best, and I keep mighty fine company! Thank you to all of you.
“When an individual is motivated by great and powerful convictions of truth, then he disciplines himself, not because of the demands of others but because of the knowledge within his heart.” -- Gordon B. Hinckley
Trade well; trade with discipline!
-- Gatis Roze