Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Searching for peak performance

It was a relatively uneventful day on my first day back to trading the SIM account.  Much of my morning was taken up by family obligations so my trading day was cut short.  Of the several trades I did end up taking, they generally worked as expected, no fireworks.  And it was yet another day watching Renato make some impressive calls in his DS chatroom under tricky news driven conditions. 

But then late in the afternoon, I experimented with my hotkey and other order entry mechanisms, trying to determine whether there might be an easier way to enter orders vs. the DOM/matrix I currently use.  That ended up trashing my trading records for the day, so I've chosen not to post any results for obvious reasons.  In hindsight, maybe that was just my subliminal self being passive-aggressive?

The rest of this week might also be dedicated to experimenting around with my orders entry setups, in addition to the next topic discussed below, so there's a good chance I won't be back to "real and serious" SIM trading until next week.  I'm going to consider the rest of this week as a bit of a cool down / postmortem period.

* * * * *
On the path to peak performance

However, one new area I plan on focusing starting this week has to do with how I can achieve peak mental performance.  Or in other words, how can I consistently get into the zone so that I can maintain my discipline to really let my strengths perform unencumbered.  Some of this has been discussed in Dr. Brett Steenbarger's books that I have already read, and for those who haven't already, it's highly recommended.

It's clear my problem is not whether I know the right positive expectancy setups, or whether the DS alerts make money or not.  I have a challenge with certain triggers that take me out of the zone, which then breaks down my discipline and keeps me from doing the right thing. 

Within the comments of the last post, Flowtastical wrote:
Can you tell me about what exactly went right?

You noted the feeling of letting setups come to you. Can you zoom in on that more? How did it feel? How were you sitting? When the setups were coming to you, what formation on the chart would make you pounce like a lion near its prey? If that formation came again, would you say you have an edge? Be more specific on what you did well, don't brush it off because learning what you did well that day cost you $1000.

Yeah, I've had quite an expensive week, so I better make the best of it.  My reply:

This may be one of my big missing pieces of the puzzle, and what's interesting is that this is a topic I studied quite a long time ago (and have obviously forgotten).

The best known examples are based on the work of Tony Robbins and NLP (neuro linguistic programming). Although some consider this pop psychology or a psudo-science, I believe there are some merits to this field.

What's most interesting to me is how you can use certain NLP or other techniques such as visualization to help you achieve the mental state of "peak performance" quickly.
This then leads to your comment about what it was that I was doing, in great detail, that made me feel as though I was working to my strengths. Unless I can consistently reproduce this routine to get to and stay in that zone, I will never be consistently profitable.
My next "side-trip" on this always challenging journey will take me to some destinations which will hopefully help me to reprogram and refocus my mind, so that I can consistently be in the peak performance state of mind.  And finally, I want to all make those little gremlins (darn it, they keep putting a stick in the wheel) go far far far away once and for all!


Tomross58 said...

Hey Grove,,

Flowtasticals comments really get to the core of ones state of mind as you prepare to stalk and act on the next trade. I made a couple sim trades yesterday just to get used to my new platform and the Matrix so there were no planned trades but just orders practiced. As I read his comments , it took me back to my live trading and my frame of mind. Very interesting and I will really give it some thoughts and hope that Flow continues to follow this blog. I will continue to practice my orders today and tomorrow and over the weekend I will study DS4,DS5,DS6,DS7, again as they seem to be most used and the 3-5 trades taken a day by Rena really suit my style.
Rena also says that the same things / patterns repeat themselves everyday, and I am slowly starting to see this.


Flowtastical said...

Study your best trades and execute them better. That is peak performance.

Greg said...

Flowtastical said "Study your best trades and execute them better" - that's awesome advice IMHO.

In my after-market review, I used to focus almost exclusively on my losing trades, and what I did wrong.

But something I read triggered the idea to focus on what I did _right_ on the winning trades. I found that when I started doing that, my mental energy really started to focus on the winning trades, and the losing trades in my mind were somewhat relegated to "stop out when you said you would".

One of the best exercises I did, inspired by a blog post from Mike Bellafiore, was looking at each day's trading, and saying "how could I have made $1000 today?" (or whatever number would be a "great day" for you). I did this exercise after the close every day for two weeks, and I think it was some of the best review time I spent. And it wasn't fantasy - I assumed I was seeing the same setups and such, but just trading them differently (but still within my risk management rules) when they were working for me.

Grove Under said...

Glad to see things are coming together, keep it going!

I'm going on pile on and be in total agreement with you regarding Flowtastical's comment.

Also, that's really a great comment on how focusing on your good trades changed your outlook. Thanks for sharing the example, very helpful.

While I tend to think through things too much (and potentially muddy the waters), you cut to the essence in 2 short and sweet sentences. Brilliant! Great stuff, thanks.