Have you ever lost yourself in a trade? You focus intensely on your screen and wait for the ideal time to enter. You’re fully attentive as you continue to watch your screen as the price creeps up to your profit objective. All your attention is channeled on your ongoing experience. Without even thinking, you exit according to your trading plan. It’s as if you are in a meditative trance. There are times when everything just seems to click. Many trading experts, such as Mark Douglas and Dr. Ari Kiev, call it “trading in the zone.”
Trading in the zone is a peak performance mental state. It happens when you engage in a task that requires your full attention and skill. The task isn’t so hard that you feel anxious about it, but it also isn’t so easy that you’re bored. There are times when every trader enters this peak performance mindset. How do you get there? For one thing, you need to feel calm and relaxed.
Existential philosophers noted long ago that people experience fear and anxiety when they think about, and regret, past mistakes, or when they worry about an uncertain future. James Dines makes a similar observation about trading. In his book “Mass Psychology,” Dines observes, “anxiety results from spending too much time in the future.” “Spending too much time in the future is punished by anxiety, while getting stuck in the past is punished with regrets,” according to Dines.
How do you stay in the moment? It’s important to focus your attention on your current experience, rather than self-consciously mulling over the past or worrying about the future. Focus on the process of living in the here-and-now. Dines suggests, “Taking it one day at a time.” Scott Shellady, a seasoned trader on the CME, similarly suggests compartmentalizing each trade. By taking each trade one trade at a time, you’ll feel more relaxed, and are more likely to enter the zone. In other words, don’t worry about past losing trades or future profits. All your attention and energy should be focused on the current trade. When you’re in this optimal state, you will trust your instincts. You will see the markets more clearly and objectively. You will be intensely aware of your feelings, sensibilities, and judgments. You’ll be in tune with the market action. You’ll be able to effortlessly review a multitude of details. Key factors that are driving the market action at the moment will come to mind with ease. When you enter the zone, you’ll significantly increase your chances of success.
It isn’t possible to always trade in the zone, but when you do, it is a peak experience. At that point, you’ll reach a state of bliss. So increase your odds of trading in the zone. Appreciate the process of trading. Don’t focus on the prize. Don’t worry about past mistakes, and avoid worrying about the future until it happens. By appreciating an ongoing trade moment by moment, you’ll not only have more fun, you’ll end up more profitable in the long run.