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A TopStepTrader's Real Money Combine
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A TopStepTrader's Real Money Combine

  #101 (permalink)
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My Psychological Journal: A Deeper Analysis: Part II

Good Entry 1:

I had to summon the initial energy to record my thoughts deliberately and subtly without disturbing my psyche, but thereafter energy seemed to breed more energy.

Journaling allowed me to simply place the pattern I was living through that moment - it was like how its easier if we took care of washing dirty dishes straightaway and not feel annoyance at a gathering mess like I had experienced in my first two combines (pent up energy that simply released itself by blowing through my daily loss limit - like the subconscious demon manifesting itself unhindered).

So the good entry is that I have developed the pattern that I am mindful whether I am excelling at the trading process (not focusing on money/profits/goals/up or down on the day/current trade red green etc.)

This entry is my most valuable asset and weapon and I cherish the mindfulness that accompanies me in trading and life.

Side effect: It also reduces and takes away stress in life and trading, because I know I have the odds tipped slightly in my favor.

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  #102 (permalink)
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My Psychological Journal: A Deeper Analysis: Part III

Good Entry 2:

Recognition of Pattern:
When I find myself in the wake of a trade opportunity that has slipped away I become consumed by a sense of betrayal and despair.

BLINK One-liner "From-Mind-To-Paper-Xerox":

SITUATIONAL TRGGER
This manifested itself when I missed the amazing IRB short trade which I had been watching out for the past couple of hours and then at the precise moment the market started dropping I lost net connectivity and also lost the backup mobile net connectivity!

THOUGHTS & RESPONSE
The sense of betrayal and despair was so huge that I winced and writhed on my seat. Big men don't cry but tears are not just drops of liquid, the mind cried sorrowfully. This happened within a blink moment.

The initial response was to jump in and chase the market with no confirmation whatsoever and no technical setup though it had dropped 25 ticks now in 5 - 10 seconds.

Then I made myself mindful again and reminded myself of the....

CONSEQUENCES (Feedback Loop Triggered!!)

My mind needed no introduction to the negative consequences of chasing a trade, not following my rules.

The consequences would have been:
- Loss of self-esteem had I banked a loser
- Invincibility and euphoria which would have setup a self-delusion bomb ticking toward account / combine death.

CHANGE
I made myself aware of the surroundings once more, reminded myself of why i am doing this, my position as a small retail trader who cannot move the market, reminded myself that the consequences were too expensive and waited patiently for the next trade opportunity. If a trade is truly missed so it be.




Dr. Brett Steenbarger says: Maldaptive patterns begin as adaptations to challenging situations.

As per my understanding, they evolve out of and become coping mechanisms. While I will leave the root causes of this pattern out of this entry, I have jotted down some childhood memories - similar prints probably are in everyone of your minds. It is funny how tiny flashes of mindfulness yield big rewards.
'
Trading well is taking care of the small things as much as the big ones.

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  #103 (permalink)
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My Psychological Journal: A Deeper Analysis: Part IV


Bad Entry 1: (Could not conquer the loss of discipline i.e. could not avert disaster in time)

Recognition of Pattern:
Mix of two:
- When I find myself in the wake of a winner that comes too easily, that makes me feel I am invincible and a favorite of the market, a darling child who can do no wrong.
- When I feel that I need to focus on money goals rather than process goals i.e. outsmarting and thus boosting my ego, an ego play and that discipline is for the sissy 'other children' not for geniuses like me

(Note: I am being completely honest here, this kind of journaling might not be suitable for every reader's tastes)

BLINK One-liner "From-Mind-To-Paper-Xerox":

SITUATIONAL TRIGGER
This manifested itself when even though I had missed the initial IRB short trade but then was still able to take the first break - I thought I was a genius and the marker had patted my back when all I had done was simply following my plan remembering that the outcome of one single trade did not matter.



THOUGHTS & RESPONSE
First trigger was entry hesitation and slippage of 4 ticks. This made me feel that the star darling child had been rapped on the knuckles by the market.

Second trigger was I moved my target to 6-ticks and market went on after a pullback to my 10-tick planned exit. A sense of betrayal of being removed from the position of 'favorite student' made me mad at the market and then I wanted to outsmart it and claim my territory back.

I took a block break to the long side which was a countertrend trade WITHOUT CONFIRMATION.
I also did not cover for a breakeven scratch (0.0 only $5 commissions lost) because my ego was in the stronghold of my mind's center instead of the mindful me.

I watched the trade drop 4 ticks more. I thought now I am too late anyway and why to chicken out here? Newbie thinking after four years of already hard beatings. The ego was still not tamed - the mindful part of me and the ego part of me both FROZE. (Ego was being proved wrong and was slowly slinking away; the mindful part of me was sorrowed that I had not heeded its timely advice to scratch the trade and not be a tick for a dick)

CONSEQUENCES (Feedback Loop NOT Triggered!! DISASTER!!)

My mind was unhindered and not following my rules.

The consequences have been:
- Loss of self-esteem and confidence.
- Being thrown out of gear of the smooth mindful engine running smoothly till this point.

CHANGE
I must do the following things:
- Sit on my hands till a 10-tick target
- Not enter without confirmation.
- Not allow the ego upper hand and be aware if it has a upper hand at any point to simply ignore it as a heckler in my show and fight it.
- retreat to humility each time it tries to conquer me



Dr. Brett Steenbarger says: Maldaptive patterns begin as adaptations to challenging situations.

As per my understanding, I have jotted down that I nurture my ego because I feel deep within that I am weak, frail and 'not so good' and perhaps even that 'I don;t deserve good things'. It is also a great feeling to know that the mindful me is increasing in size and soon this pale shadow of ego trying to support its own fragility will be shattered as I follow my processes and ignore its shouts.
'
Trading well is taking care of myself and respecting the real me and ignoring all other 'me's who are not attuned to my best interests.

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  #104 (permalink)
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  #105 (permalink)
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  #106 (permalink)
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Combine Trader 4th July Holiday Repairs: Under the Hood

Quoting Dr. Brett Steenbarger:

The motivation for much positive thinking is a denial of weakness.


We only contact the parts of ourselves that are relatively whole.

We keep our frailties from our conscious awareness. Thus banished from the front of our minds, those frailties cannot guide our learning.

Eventually those trading shortcomings catch up to us, forcing us to face them squarely.

If you love yourself, you can reach that point of acceptance in which you are fully aware of your shortcomings and appreciate your very humanness.

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  #107 (permalink)
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Combine Trader 4th July Holiday Repairs: Under the Hood

Quoting Dr.Brett Steenbarger:

Traders establish firm stops that are closer to the point of entry than the price targets and help ensure a favorable risk/reward profile to each trade. You can generally tell a professional trader by the way she closes out a losing trade. The exit is automatic, not a cause for consternation. Loss is an accepted part of the game. The good traders learn from those losses and use them to revise market views.

Much harder for many traders and far less remarked upon is something we might call stop-profits. Traders find it difficult to let profits run on winning trades.

A traderís risk aversion may play a role in prematurely stopping out profits.

One of the important advantages of testing oneís trading setups is that you can estimate the historical odds of a market acting in your favor. That knowledge can provide the security necessary to see the trade through to its ultimate target.

A large part of confidence is trust.

Instill both trust and confidence in your trading as follows:

- Mentally rehearse how you would talk to yourself in the event that you have to scratch a trade after having a paper profit.


And most importantly, Confidence is not just a function of how you think, but also how you act.

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  #108 (permalink)
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Combine Trader 4th July Holiday Repairs: Under the Hood

I have two problems that manifest themselves in 10 - 15 different ways.

The problems are:

- missing good trades - I have addressed this by precisely defining entries, so moving on.....

- occasionally ignoring stop-loss levels

- taking quick sure profits

At the core the pattern involves states of mind that disrupt or interfere with good decision-making.



Currently I am like the junior doctor who has taken the Socratic Oath “Above all else, do no harm”.

though this has kept me away from all those big losses I used to have in a recurring sequence year after year after year, it did not in itself allow me to reap the rewards of trading I was expecting.

Here is how Dr.Brett Steenbarger instructs traders to address the issue:

My worst trading occurs when I focus on my P/L as the trade is unfolding.
This leads me to tolerate larger normal losses or take profits too quickly to book a sure gain.

Solution:

Method 1:

I need to refocus my attention. I accomplish this by turning briefly from the screen, fixing my gaze on something nearby, and taking a few deep breaths. Once I’m in a new state—more calm and focused—I find it easier to be detached from the P/L and let the trade unfold in its planned manner.

Method 2:


Simply walk away from the screen temporarily and engage in a quick activity unrelated to trading like doing a few stretches or getting something to eat or drink.

He highlights: When you change your physical state, you alter how you experience the world and process information.

Method 3:

Talk aloud during a particular situation. If you write or talk about what is happening and give voice to what
you think and feel at the time you’re thinking and feeling it, you shift from being a person immersed in experience to being a person observing his own experience. If you’re an active trader talking aloud can be accomplished while still watching the screen.

if I talk aloud my thoughts about my P/L while I’m in a trade, that alerts me to the fact that I’m no longer focused on the trade itself.

Tip: Learn to make self-observation a habit.

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  #109 (permalink)
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Identifying My CORE Problem

A single problem is usually the rroot cause of all trading troubles!

A single one!

In my case it was ANXIETY.

This one word encompasses an attitude of Lack, which I stumbled upon, how else, but reading and re-reading my journal to identify the patterns.

This combine I am striving to be so process oriented that P/L is not in the equation at all.

That is why I talk about ticks, fixed targets (for discipline), tipping points and never about $$$.

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A single problem is usually the rroot cause of all trading troubles!

A single one!

In my case it was ANXIETY.

This one word encompasses an attitude of Lack, which I stumbled upon, how else, but reading and re-reading my journal to identify the patterns.

This combine I am striving to be so process oriented that P/L is not in the equation at all.

That is why I talk about ticks, fixed targets (for discipline), tipping points and never about $$$.

Any kind of emotion can do this. For me my entries had a little too much discretion in them. This caused me to enter early and had take more heat on a trade than I mentally wanted. Once the emotions got started it would keep me trading poorly. Often it would even progress until I started taking bad trades.

If missed a good trade, I'd force myself to take the "Next" trade - a reversal against my trend. Or worse yet, a trade then did not even meet my rules.

From my trade reviews, I was able to find a away to refine my entry criteria. This filtered out some bad trades that I used to take as well as improved my entries. When I have good entries, my confidence stays high and emotions or anxiety stays out of my trading.

Trade Wise, Trade Well

John
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