Trading seems so easy: Find a good setup, place a bet, close out the trade and take home the profits. Enduring trading success is easier said than done, however. Trading experts note that even those traders who achieve early success don’t maintain it. It’s easy to make a series of profitable trades early in one’s career; the difficulty is trading profitably day after day, week after week, year after year.
When it comes to maintaining profitability over the long term, one must look deep into one’s psychological makeup and ask and answer tough questions:
- Why am I trading?
- What do I get out of it?
- Why should I continue to trade?
Seasoned traders know the answer to these questions:
- Trading is intrinsically rewarding; it’s a fulfilling, enjoyable, and exciting.
- The experience of trading in and of itself provides its own reward.4
- The most successful traders are so passionate about trading that they would trade regardless of how much money they made or how successful they were. For them, the intellectual and creative activities involved in the trading process constitute an optimal experience. They trade in a higher sphere, and maintaining this peak performance mindset ensures their lasting profitability.
Psychologists who study the motives behind people’s life pursuits have discovered that optimal experiences are intrinsically motivating. They are so engaging and interesting that the mere act of doing them is enjoyable. The extrinsic rewards, such as money or profits, are not nearly as motivating. When people engage in an intrinsically motivating task, they effortlessly focus all their attention on that task, and achieve a level of experience that is optimal. They don’t worry about success or failure, and they don’t expect to receive any reward or gain from the endeavor other than the experience itself. They may desire a reward but they don’t need one. Emotions, such as fear, anxiety, and self-reproach, don’t even enter their consciousness. The experience is so intense that they tend to be concerned less with the final outcome, and more with the process as they experience it.
Top-notch traders report that they would work as a trader even if it were a typical 9-to-5 job. They are passionate about trading. They love the business and would do anything to be in it. It’s fun, enjoyable, and an intellectual challenge. The more you can see the intrinsic rewards of trading, the more you’ll trade calmly and rationally. And in the long run, the more profitably you will trade.