Part of my pre-session routine involves a quick review of my Motivation Journal.
The Motivation Journal is simply a folder containing various pieces of text or image material which I find sufficiently motivating; the aim being to ensure I face each trading session with focus and commitment and, most importantly, confidence.
The YTC Price Action Trader discusses the sections and contents of my journal in Chapter 10. While the content itself changes from time to time, I've been consistent in following that same format for the last six or so years.
However, last weekend I came across a video which I found fascinating, and which has led me to consider changing the format of my Motivation Journal.
It's a TED Talk by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo who you might know from the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.
The topic of this talk is "The Psychology of Time"
Here's the video. Please watch it. It only takes seven minutes.
If you have time (pun intended) there is a link at the bottom of this article to a longer video presentation showing a lot more detail. Highly recommended! If not… the 7 minute video shown here will be sufficient to cover the basics.
Prof. Zimbardo suggests that the optimal profile for balancing time perspective is as follows:
- Past-Positive => High
- Future-Positive => Moderately High
- Present-Hedonism => Moderate
Nothing surprising here in that it's all overly biased towards the positive side.
This is a great way to view life.
But I think it also has application in daytrading, in providing structure to our Motivation Journal and ensuring it addresses all three time perspectives.
The benefits of our pre-trading routine including a motivation session based upon the optimal profile, as listed above, should be:
- A greater likelihood of commencing the trading session with a positive and focused mindset.
- And a subsequent increase in likelihood of quality performance.
So here's how we could structure our journals:
Section 1 – Past-Positive
Aim: To give you roots. To connect to your identity and family. To be grounded.
Prof. Zimbardo, in the longer video linked to at the end of this article, provides a list of emotions, motives and actions associated with each of the positive time perspectives. For Past-Positive it includes the following: happy, self-esteem, rituals, patriotism, nostalgia, gratitude, stability, wisdom, identity.
Contents within the Past-Positive section would then address any of these areas which you deem as relevant to your circumstances.
- A photo collage or list of those people from your past, or from history, who have been instrumental in shaping your values and beliefs and in creating the person you have become.
- Recognition for those who have provided you with the foundation that allows you to trade today – the knowledge, the skills, the self-belief.
- Gratitude and love towards those who provide support in your life and a sense of belonging – family and close friends.
- A special thanks to those who believe in you, who encourage you day after day as you travel this journey in becoming a trader.
- Reference to any time, place or event in your life that offers pleasant and happy memories.
- Reminders of past successes – academic, sporting, artistic, or any other category you feel appropriate.
- Printouts of trading success – particularly good trade sequences, rising equity curves, or examples of a successful fight back from drawdown.
- And if no trading success yet – list areas of growth and development in your trading journey. What are you better at now than you were twelve months ago?
- I'm sure there are many other ideas that I've missed. Feel free to add additional Past-Positive ideas in the comment section of this article. Let's help each other out!
Section 2 – Future-Positive
Aim: To give you wings. To soar to new destinations and challenges.
Keywords associated with the Future-Positive time perspective included the following: achievement, health focus, contingency planning, probability thinking, self-efficacy, cost-benefit analysis, expectancies, hope.
The Future-Positive section of your journal should be structured to address any of these areas which may be applicable to your trading business.
- What does trading success mean to you? Start here with the material aspects of success. How do you define success? Outline it here. And paste in some pictures of expensive cars, houses and holiday locations. You know you want to!
- And now let's look beyond just the financial and material benefits. Let's make it more personal and real. What will it mean to you and your loved ones when you achieve the levels of success you desire?
- Visualise achievement of the above levels of success. How does that make you feel. Write down these feelings and turn them into affirmations, as if they were already true.
- Again… what have I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Section 3 – Present-Positive (yeah… I've changed the name slightly! It might just be me, but the word hedonism seems to contain some negative baggage! Having said that though, in the longer video Prof. Zimbardo does say that our focus on the Present-Hedonism time perspective should be selective and self-rewarding, not impulsive.)
Aim: To give you energy. To ignite your passion for trading and being in the moment.
I prefer to finish with the present, rather than the future, as it feels to me that a present-positive perspective is more relevant to the actual hands-on job of daytrading which is shortly about to commence. Feel free to adjust the order however you wish!
Keywords associated with Present-Positive were: affiliation, joy, pleasure, sensuality, sexuality, energy / activity, excitement, improvisation.
The Present-Positive section of our journal should be structured to address any of these areas which may be applicable to our trading business.
- Affirmations will really come into their own in this section. I'd start with something expressing gratitude for the opportunity to trade today.
- And let's continue with more affirmations – any areas of particular interest – acceptance, confidence, achievement, happiness or any other category that you wish. Keep them present focused.
- Any spiritual affirmations that may be applicable to your beliefs and lifestyle.
- A reminder to review your current process goals, or any current areas of focus which need regular reinforcement and reminders. Then feel the satisfaction that comes from proper preparation and planning!
- A reminder that my job today is not to find winning trades, but rather to manage risk and opportunity such that I profit over a longer series of trades.
- Pause… take a few slow breaths, deep into your belly. Feel alive!
- Pause… look around the room and just take in how awesome it feels to live in this time and this place and be afforded this opportunity.
- Now it's time to trade! Let's go!
- Other ideas? Let me know in the comments section of the article! 🙂
So now it's your turn!
If you don't currently have a motivation journal, set one up RIGHT NOW using these three time perspectives – Past-Positive, Future-Positive, Present-Positive.
And let me know how it goes! 🙂
PS. For those interested in longer presentations on this topic, and how different time perspectives shape both personal and cultural behaviour, see the following videos:
- The full RSA presentation (41 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJybVxUiy2U (I highly recommend this one. It's a fascinating presentation!)
- An RSA Animated Video (10 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3oIiH7BLmg (An animated video based upon select parts of the above presentation.)
For a book version, "The Time Paradox" by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd
Also see here to take some surveys to identify your score in the different time perspectives:
- My results seem to be about right. Highly future focused. Not enough present hedonism. And I have some serious past personal issues that I still need to resolve. Talk about making me face some truths that I've been avoiding! 🙂