A few months ago a construction crew came to my house to renovate our basement. Unfortunately, one of the rooms that needed a whole lot of drilling just happened to be my office, aka. my holy sanctuary.
Now if you’re like me, you need to be in full Zen mode to trade. I’m not trying to reach enlightenment here. But you should remove distractions that might rob your focus during pivotal moments in the market.
But sometimes... life happens.
Time to wake up. Today, a construction crew is coming so I must find a different place to trade.
Wash up, get ready, grab an everything bagel with cream cheese.
Head over to my favorite place in the world, the public library. (Free wifi, free outlet for your laptop, a comfortable seat, and public pressure to do your work? What’s not to love?)
Walk up to the entrance. BAM! Automatic doors won’t open.
Frantically search for ‘Hours of Operation’ sign. Read in big letters, “Closed. Doors open at 11AM on Wednesdays only.”
What the @$&! Today is Wednesday.
“Crap, crap, crap.”
Run back to my car and rush to the nearest library one town over. My driving is now erratic.
Get stink eye from an old lady crossing the road. Check.
Eventually make it with minutes to spare.
Run up to the door. BAM! See another sign that reads, “Open at 10AM.”
“Open 9AM every day, except Wednesdays.”
Wednesdays? Wednesdays? What is up with Wednesdays?!
Cue heart drop.
After years of diligence and punctuality, I missed the open for the first time.
Sit in car in library parking lot. Head appropriately on steering wheel.
I eat my delicious bagel.
But then, I let it go and enjoyed my 1st day off.
When things go wrong, my first instinct is to get upset. But years of trying to tame my emotional stability thankfully steered my mentality the right way thanks to these 3 principles.
Yes, the construction crew. Ugh. Yes, the library. Ugh. Yes, the old stink eye lady and all the other slow drivers that morning. Ugh.
But really, all of this could’ve been avoided if I had just checked library hours before I left. But the truth is I didn’t. I broke down that morning step by step and this was the one factor that I had complete control over. If I had just controlled it, everything else wouldn’t really have mattered. Once I admitted that, the anger faded away.
Have a Calming Agent
I now had a day off and there’s no way I was going back to my construction zone house. Instead, I drove over to the nearest park. Without even knowing it, I gravitated towards my happy place. There’s something about nature on a bright sunny day that just washes the anger away.
If you find yourself getting upset, have a calming agent. For many traders it’s the gym, but it doesn’t have to be a place. It can be music, video games, or a loved one. Sometimes when I trade I still grow nervous and the temptation to break your rules starts creeping up. So I turn on Netflix. Who’s to say you shouldn’t? As long as you’re calm enough to not break your rules, you’ll make money.
You don’t need to be a monk to practice meditation. But it wouldn’t hurt to look into one of the most ancient traditions of all mankind that continue today. In fact Ray Dalio, founder of the $160 billion hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, says that meditation plays a key role in his success.
Simply put, meditation is the practice of turning off your mind (easier said than done). That entire morning my mind was racing. But it wasn’t until I bit into my morning bagel that my mind suddenly quieted. I realized how delicious my breakfast was. Then I saw how serene and beautiful my surroundings were. Then things got quiet and the last bit of my frustration just faded away.