Just Do It! (Apologies to Nike for use of their slogan.)
Oh Boy - Back from a surreal Thanksgiving vacation! It contained enough excitement and interesting observations about the "Glitterati" (famous people or celebrities who spend a lot of money) to fill a Michener novel.
If you've never been, Hawaii is God's country (most of it anyway), no matter which island you visit. It's also a great place to people watch and to see how others spend their money. Aside from the top-notch golf courses, beautiful undersea life encountered while scuba diving or snorkeling, you'll encounter even more reality-defying stuff if you visit places where the rich and famous hang out. That one dude flying in on his personal Boeing 757 was a dead giveaway that I might have stumbled onto what will be known as the second Babylon in a few thousand years.
The astro-dollars spent on extravagance are beyond belief. Can you imagine an ocean front lot - yes, LOT; no sticks, rocks, or plumbing - selling for $9.5 million? Or how about combining three already expensive lots, which possess ocean views but lack ocean frontage, for a total of $21 million? One of technology's elites strolled into town and recently did just that. And he's not the only one. Actresses and rock stars round out the balance of equally unbelievable stories. If not in the stock market, the bubble is alive and well in resort real estate. I guess it's pocket change to these folks.
Frankly, I could have stayed there another week. . .no wait, another month. . .OK, another year. But then I'd have to figure out a way to pay the bill for all the decadence, which was plenty - even after just one week. Aside from the occasional bout of motion sickness caused by unfortunately rough seas during a few boat outings, it was, as I noted above, surreal. Neat!
But this isn't a book report on Buzz's Thanksgiving with the family. We all know the feeling where the vacation was so great that all we do upon our return is daydream about the great time we had. It's tough to get back into the swing of things; we can't get the lead out; work takes a distant second.
In fact, as you might imagine from your own experience of taking in surreal surroundings for almost a week, trading isn't going to be at the top of anyone's list of things on which to refocus. Personally, snapping out of "aloha time" has been one of the most difficult things I've had to do this week. Focus has been out the window.
Focus? What's that? Oh yeah, FOCUS! Ahem, yes, focus. That is the key. Don't get me wrong. I like to play catch-up on the financial news by reading the business section of the newspaper, or take in a few business television segments, and even catch the 2-minute business report on local radio. Heck, we can even open up the charts. That's easy. But when it comes to the business of trading, my head is not there. It's somewhere else. I'll find anything else to do but face the business of trading. Yes, sometimes we decompress a bit too much. Right now I'm suffering from excess vacation, or more correctly stated, vacation excess.
Now for that "focus" part. Sure, we can do it. We can focus on it just like we focused on our golf swing. But it's hard work, and we fudge along evading the reality that we just don't want to. "Just don't want to" is the real reason we are stuck.
Let's examine that for a minute by revisiting an old theme. Ready? Here it is: People do things to derive pleasure or avoid pain. That was pretty simple. And if you acknowledge that all of our actions boil down to those simple motivators, it becomes clear that "we just don't want to" is really avoiding something that we perceive to be painful in some way. Step back for a minute. Is making money by trading really painful? Heck no! When we are in the zone, we love it. And executed correctly, we can't get enough. That's the pleasure. But I'll be the first to admit that I'll avoid the pain first and seek the pleasure second. Avoiding takes less effort.
But how do we recapture the "want to" when we are currently trying to avoid the perceived pain of the actions that get us the results we want? The answer is - and get this if nothing else from the article - focus on the GOAL. Somewhere along the line (probably Anthony Robbins), I learned that, "If you have a big enough "why", the "how" will take care of itself." By that I mean that if we focus on our GOALS with special emphasis on WHY those goals are important, we internalize it and attach feeling to it.
We think of things like the happiness on the kid's face when they meet Mickey or Minnie Mouse for the first time, not that we bought a trip to Disneyland. We think of the euphoria we'd feel pressing on the accelerator of our new "super car", not that we just bought a new Porsche. We think of the security we feel by having a year's worth of living expenses in the bank, come thick or thin. By internalizing it, we attach good feelings to certain outcomes that we desire.
It 's all about attaching the good feelings to the goals, which creates the desire. Desire is the result of attaching good felling to the big enough "WHY". Did you get that? An internalized, big enough "WHY" creates the desire to move forward. And so it is with trading too.
Just today, I spent an intense amount of time focusing on the "why" and reattaching good feelings to trading. For me, the big enough "why" is my nearly nine-year-old daughter. I'm going off on a tangent here to try to explain the goal so that it provides a good roadmap for the thinking/feeling that goes into my actions. This my deal - only an example. It doesn't have to be yours, but everyone needs to have a have a "why" in some way.
It's like this - when I was 30 years old and still deeply entrenched in the commercial real estate business, an extremely successful retailer-client of mine for whom I had a lot of respect told me that, "It will never matter how big your house is, where you vacation, what kind of car you drive, or how much money is in your bank account [I naturally frowned, for that was my reason for existence back then]. What matters is that five generations and beyond from now, the world will be a better place because you instilled good character and values in your kids, as you hope they will to theirs, and so on. While you pass along your genes, your character now determines [if only in a small way] the fate of the world generations from now. Be the father that you would want for yourself".
Uh, OK, that was pretty heavy. But I got his message loud and clear. While it seemed superficial at first, I dwelled on that - unintentionally for the first two days, I might add - every hour of ever day (and night) for what must have been two weeks. But it sunk in and permeated every aspect of my thinking. For what were primal reasons, which some would consider arrogant - preserving of the species and all that - I began to act as though some small, but perhaps important part of the future, rested on my shoulders. No, I wasn't going to save the world. But I sure as heck would do my part to make sure that I did everything in my power to raise a daughter and nurture any ability SHE might have to change the world with hope that she would, in turn, do the same, and so on.
Talk about wearing it on my sleeve! How is that related to trading? Pretty simple for me actually. She is the "why" for most of my big decisions, including the decision to trade. So in comparison, the distraction of my daydreams on Thanksgiving vacation is really trivial when I remind myself of WHY I trade. I do it so I can spend time with my daughter, which I hope will help to create a few "Kodak moments" for us to remember along the way, and to make the world slightly better many years form now. Suddenly, trading is no longer something to be avoided, but to be embraced! "Just do it!" is a whole lot easier. No longer painful, trading is a pleasure for all the good it can bring to the world! At least that's how I twist it in my mind to get re- motivated. How's that for a 180-degree turn?
Sure, it's a stupid brain trick, but it works! Also, while I haven't spent any time on it today, a focus on the big enough "why" can almost instantly get you through any bouts of avoiding seemingly difficult tasks. If we can focus on our goals and attach enough meaning to them - meaning that we give them - we can change any behavior within ourselves that we want. With a big enough "why", working through any challenge isn't tough at all.
As for trading, it isn't about getting all our facts down before we enter a trade. It's about the frame of mind from which we re- enter the trading world that determines our outcome.
Until next time, make a great week for yourselves!