The challenges facing traders going from simulated trading to real money trading; and from small to large positions.
I had a client who I had worked with some time ago who emailed me and said that since our work together, he had been cleaning up his personal life and his health with great new behaviors. He had started successful simulated trading again and would be ready to move to real trading soon.
I sent him an email with a Mind Muscle exercise that I want to share with my newsletter friends. What happens is that we can trade from a very positive space when we are trading our simulated account. We avoid the mind traps and biases. Then, as we move to our real account or up our contract numbers, we “downshift” into our limbic brain, trigger neurological patterns that no longer serve us and put a lot of pressure on ourselves. AND, this is out of awareness. So as result, our decision process has taken a radical shift.
If you haven’t read the Mind Muscles basics, it would be helpful to do so now. Then you can read the instructions to building Mind Muscles and do the foundation Mind Muscle exercise. Doing these three steps will make this exercise more powerful.
Here is what I emailed my client:
Start a journal while you are sim trading successfully. Note these three things very carefully and in as much detail as possible.
Emotions – How you feel during every stage of the decision process.
Physiology – Breathing, constrictions, muscles, heart rate, etc.
Thoughts – What are you saying to yourself and what stories you are telling yourself.
For a structured way of doing this, see my Awareness Alarm Mind Muscle Exercise.
Get enough data to create a baseline. THEN…as you approach actual trading…stay aware in real time of any shifts from this baseline. If you notice any shift at all (for example in posture – I mention posture because one of my clients leaned forward when he increased his size and starting losing again)…STOP!! Do not trade. Congratulate yourself and do the “Mind Muscle Motion.” Clasp your hands together, move them up and down in rhythm while saying “Making Mind Muscles.”
Now, get yourself back to your baseline and start again. Notice shifts…stop immediately when you are experiencing anything different. Get back to the successful baseline. Move forward incrementally until you are trading for real or trading the next level of size from the same state as when you traded sim. Don’t push it!!!!
PS…this exercise can be used for all situations where you do well in once set of circumstances but fail in others. You can get the baseline when you are doing well…and let it grow.