If you’re reading this, it has already happened. Your morning trading ritual. And sure, maybe you’re one of those who wakes up, drinks a wheatgrass-protein smoothie, does 20 minutes of power yoga, writes in your trading journal, spends remarkably fulfilling quality time with an incredibly good-looking family, and then settles down in front of a keyboard that totally doesn’t have coffee stains on it.
Then again, maybe more than “Carpe diem!” or “seize the day,” you start letting the day seize you and squeeze the enthusiasm and courage right out of you. The first step is when you ask the wrong question, the weak question, the one whose answer will shadow you for the rest of the day like the smell of defeat well-deserved because you wanted it. There are a lot of ways to ask it, “Why” and “Can’t I” and “Do I have to” and on and on. Here, watch this. In 3 minutes it’ll help you remember the right kind of question. Some mornings, my ritual is just watching this:
What did I tell you? The first test of the day is this: is your life potentially more worth spending time on than lying in bed? Is your life exciting enough to lose some sleep over? If not, can you make it so, both the trading part and the everything else that trading brings you? Make sure you pass that test. Just keep asking yourself questions whose answers get you too enthusiastic about your day to go back to sleep. (Don’t worry, you can always catch a nap after some fun.)
Here are some questions to try:
If this were a perfect day, what would happen?
Pick three of your heroes, both in the trading world and outside. Ask how you’d start your day if you were each of them. Go into detail, visualize everything, down to the smell of the soap and the taste of the breakfast.
Ask yourself something small: what shirt will you wear? What will you have for breakfast? Who will you see today who will make you smile? Find something in the day to look forward to.
Tap into your aggression: what problem do you want to punch in the face today? What negative trading habit will you actively resist as you trade today? What positive thought will you keep in mind no matter how crappy the circumstances get? Look to this day! For it is life, the very life of life. Lived well, it makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day.
– Kalidasa, 10th century Indian poet and playwright
Reflect for a moment on this: many of the problems we traders have are quality problems, the kind of problems most people will never get to have because they’re washing mounds of dishes, cleaning bathrooms, landscaping office parks and slaving away in a cubicle crunching meaningless streams of numbers. They dream of the chance to do the alchemy we do: turning some money into more money simply by the thoughts we are able to sustain and bring to life.
Most of our “have-tos” are other people’s “get-tos” and “will-never-have-the-chance-tos.” Somewhere, right now, I remind myself, someone just as smart and deserving as I am is slaving away picking tomatoes or being sold for sex when she should be in school.
If I could suggest a simple morning ritual for you, it would be this: think of three specific things you are grateful for and write down three Thank yous. It doesn’t matter what they are. Just write “Thank you” three times and finish the three sentences. Never mind who or what you’re thanking. Just say thank you, sincerely.
When I got my second black belt in aikido in Kimitsu, Japan, my sensei told me, “Aikido is not about defeating an enemy or having the skill to face three opponents at once. The real aikido lies in how you say ‘Good morning’ to the world every day.”
Have fun writing your three thank-yous. I won’t explain how, but I promise you, they will raise you to a higher, more powerful frame of mind and make you more resilient and brave as a trader.