Have you ever seen your favourite athlete or performer with eyes closed and in quiet concentration in the moments before taking the pitch or the stage? Well, odds are that they find calmness and clarity during those stress-filled moments by using visual exercises, and traders like you can—and should—do the same.
Trading is very much a mental game, after all, so limiting your practise to just “mechanics” like pattern recognition, stop and target placement, and trade sizing and management, really only covers less than half the tools you need to trade well and consistently.
Instead, to promote more thorough preparation, clearer and more decisive actions, and in all, better trading with less stress, make visual exercises like the ones we’ll profile here today part of your regular trading habits.
Trading mistakes, while inevitable, happen for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because trading requires fact-based decisions be made under pressure. Many traders are ill-prepared for the situations they’ll face throughout the course of a trading day, though, and that’s all the more reason to simulate through visual exercises not only important trading circumstances, but also what it will look and feel like to act in accordance with your trading strategy when faced with them.
As a result, we may recommend that you try these visual exercises to help promote more effective preparation and success in the markets:
Much like a golfer visualising their next shot, or a corporate executive preparing to deliver an important presentation, traders should spend time picturing—in painstaking detail—what seamless trade execution and management might look and feel like for them. To do so, close your eyes and see yourself at your trading desk. Look over your own shoulder as you analyse your favourite trade set-up on the chart. Now imagine yourself confidently and decisively carrying out each of the steps set forth by your trading strategy in order to execute and manage that trade.
Take the time to follow each step, from prudent trade sizing, to risk-minded stop placement. Imagine a logical target for the trade, and perhaps overcoming any doubts in the moments prior to execution. Focus on the technical set-up itself, ignoring unknowns like news and economic data, and whether the market will ultimately move in your favour. Then imagine confidently executing your trade and moving on to the next one.
Using visual exercises such as this one, the hope is that if and when market conditions call for you to spring into action, you’ll be better prepared, having already practiced these good trading habits in your head beforehand. But visual exercises are also good for avoiding pitfalls that hamper most traders as well…
Are you sometimes tempted to take set-ups that almost satisfy your requirements for trading? Or perhaps you’re swayed by the “buzz” from the financial media or the ideas you see floating around in chat rooms or trading forums? Maybe you’re even prone to throw out a trade or two in response to the news and/or economic data that hits the wires throughout the trading day…even though you know it’s against the rules?
Regardless, one or a couple visual exercises can better prepare you to say “No” in the face of such temptation, so if you know your own bad habits and tendencies, here’s what to do: Picture yourself at your trading desk when your biggest temptation emerges. Recall the way you felt the last time that temptation got the better of you. Even remember the reason you gave in, whether it was to chase a potential profit, make up for a prior trade, or stray from your strategy “Just this once.”
But this time, before you give in, imagine stopping yourself, even if it takes hitting a “Pause” button to freeze your visualised self in their tracks. (Hey, they’re your visual exercises…you can do whatever you want!) Take a moment to impart the proper wisdom and reverse the course of the actions and restore order. Seeing and feeling this happen, even if hypothetically, will assist you in achieving the same outcome under the pressure of real market conditions, too.
The fact remains that each time you trade, you never know with any certainty what you’re in for. Each trade and trading day holds endless promise, but with the wins also come the inevitable losses, and quite a few days when no tradable opportunities are presented at all. And realistically speaking, traders should handle all of these instances without emotion. Now that sounds easy in practice, but we all know how difficult it can be in real life…and that’s where visual exercises may help you.
So if you have a tendency to get angry and/or revenge trade following one or a couple losing trades, then your visual exercises should centre around remaining calm, disciplined, and committed to your strategy, even following negative outcomes.
And if you tend to overtrade, increase position size, or feel invincible once trades begin going your way, well, you should use visual exercises to simulate staying logical and grounded instead.
And finally, for those who become frustrated or feel the trading day is “wasted” unless they initiate at least one trade, visual exercises may hold the key to becoming more patient and accepting of the fact that not trading at all is actually better and more responsible than risking hard-earned capital on sub-par or unwarranted set-ups.
Use these visual exercises and others derived on your own to be your own trading advocate or coach and facilitate more confident, successful trading. And for continuing education and even personalised mentoring, join the Lazy Trader member community for regular content and trade ideas. Simply click the banner below to initiate your no-risk trial today!