As it happens, I’m only a day or so removed from a memorable ski trip in the French Alps. I made note of a few ideas I wanted to share with you now that I have the chance. I realized this past week that many of my own trading habits were still in use even though I was mostly skiing. I think there may be some valuable perspective to be gained here. Whether it is regarding risk, form and fundamentals, or active decision making, here are just some of the parallels between skiing and trading.
Skiing, much like trading, or riding a motorcycle, or even flying on an airplane, is an inherently risky endeavour. We know that from the beginning, and must accept it before we even start so we can then put fear and emotion about eventual outcomes behind us. Alas, this is not a precursor before we throw caution to the wind and do something daring and foolish. Instead we make a pact with ourselves to stay committed despite the risk at hand. Doing this before every session is one of my morning trading habits. Not to mention a thought I had each day before skiing. It literally only takes a few seconds, but I think it pays off much bigger for me throughout the day in terms of focus and clearer thinking.
You see, like I am in my trading—and like you may be as well—I’m methodical about how I navigate an obstacle. I focus rather intently on the process, like my balance, posture, and planning my next move before it happens.
To do that well, and be safe and successful in the process, I cannot be consumed by “What ifs,” or fixate on fears about getting injured, and to put it simply, the same principle applies when trading. In the moment, there’s no room to worry about things like money and winning or losing trades, which take care of themselves if you just stay the course, promote good trading habits, and trade according to your own, proven methodology.
Risk aside, there are also a lot of similarities that occur in the actual process of doing both activities. In either case, we’re operating in an infinite and random environment where seemingly anything can happen at any time. All the while, we lack control over these forces, but not over how we plan for and react to them, which gives us these additional trading habits that also translate well on the slopes:
It’s typically the trader (and the skier) who tries something beyond the scope of their knowledge and capabilities who ends up getting hurt. So if you’re not ready for complex set-ups, don’t trade them, just like you wouldn’t ski an Olympic course before putting in the time and energy to properly elevate your skills and experience to that level.
See related: How Many Trade Set-ups Do You Really Need?
And, no matter who or what you encounter while you’re out there, stay true to your own style, and don’t copy anyone else’s, no matter how “cool” it looks or seems! There’s always someone out there with newer and flashier equipment, or someone who seemingly has all the moves, but you reach the bottom of the hill just the same way they do, and that’s just fine! On the ski slopes, and in the markets, there are a million different ways to reach the desired destination, and while some are flashier, provided yours works, it’s every bit as good as the others, so stick with it!
In the markets, price action and our own thought processes can get going pretty fast at times, almost the way obstacles and surroundings can start whizzing by while out skiing. In both, however, constant awareness is key, as is quick and confident decision making. You can’t deliberate for too long when there’s a tree, another skier, or even a cliff up ahead in your path. Instead, you use the finite amount of information available to you at that very moment, decide your next move, and then act decisively, almost in one organic motion.
That’s great imagery for traders, too, as that kind of decisiveness is among the most valuable trading habits out there. Try imagining that scenario and see if it helps you in your trading, and then once a decision is made, don’t spend time in that moment second guessing it, even if it turns out to be less than perfect. Just like on the ski slopes, there are new obstacles ahead that deserve your full attention, so look most intently at where you’re going, not behind you at where you’ve already been.
It’s easy to think that trading the markets is an activity unlike any other, and that good trading habits are a set of tendencies that are uniquely their own, too. I’m forever fascinated, however, by how many trading habits are inspired by, or even copied directly from other facets of our lives, and while we’ve talked about skiing in this instance, of late, we’ve also drawn parallels with hunting, examined some golf-inspired trading tips, and learned valuable trading lessons while just sitting on the beach.
If you’re a fellow skier, then you probably can relate to what we’ve discussed here, and even if not, the message remains clear: Good trading habits are not necessarily exclusive to trading. They’re actually found throughout our lives, and some even ingrained in our personalities. So be aware, and don’t think of trading as some animal entirely its own!