Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Pursuit of Happyness

My recent posts have had the strong theme of self improvement and in particular, taking control of your own life; realising that we can achieve great things if we make a bigger effort. We live in an age where it's never been easier to make money, become successful and do whatever we want with our lives. Most of you reading this will be living in a democratic (roughly), developed nation with freedom for its citizens and access to the internet and so there is no excuse for not being able to attain what you desire. If you read that and thought "You can't say that, you don't know me, you don't know my circumstances, you don't know how hard that is for me" then I urge you to watch the film "The Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith.

I'm not a film buff and very rarely will I sit through an entire two hour movie, as the vast majority that come out of Hollywood are, in my opinion, terrible. But occasionally, once every year or two, I see something that resonates with me on a deep level and none more so than "The Pursuit of Happyness". Yeah I know, it's 10 years old and you've probably already seen it - as I said, hardly ever watch them! But for those of you thinking that what I have said about having "no excuse" is bullshit, I suggest you re-visit this film and re-evaluate your life.

The film is based on the real life story of American Chris Gardner, who decided to give up his job as a struggling salesman to train to become a stock-broker at one of America's biggest stock-brokerage firms, Dean Witter (which eventually merged into Morgan Stanley). I won't spoil the story for you but basically, he trained for no pay in the hope he'd be taken on, whilst at the same time having to look after his toddler son by himself. They ended up homeless yet he still went to work for no pay every day. You can guess what eventually happened - it's Hollywood, it's a happy ending! But more than was shown in the film, he became a multi-millionaire, building his own brokerage empire and is now a world re-knowned speaker and philanthropist. What Chris had to go through with his son and the effort he put in to get what he wanted are a lesson in what can be achieved when you want something badly enough and take action.

I was recommended this film by a guy I barely know who, having heard about my trading experiences, thought I would enjoy it. Little did I realise what an effect it would have on me. I don't mind admitting that I was blubbing my eyes out! I occasionally get a little wet around the eyes during emotional dramas but this was NEXT  LEVEL water-works! Once the tears started, I couldn't shut them off, no matter how hard I tried! Luckily, I was watching alone, it was quite an embarrassing sight. Something about this movie really got to me, really struck a chord. I think the fact Chris was a stock-broker (so a similar line of work to trading) and that we both were struggling financially but just took a chance, knowing we might fail - well, you can see the similarities.  Knowing that we had to take a risk and that we could be in more trouble but believing that we would succeed. Working over and above what the average person would do and then to be rewarded in excess of what we ever expected. Of course, I'm not trying to say I'm anywhere near to the level of distress Chris was in, having a child to take care of and being out on the street, but it still resonated with me. It bought up a lot of memories of my own struggle to pay bills and the sincere threat that I might not be able to pay the rent and those emotions needed to come out, I think.

What this man showed, and what he talks about in his speeches around the world, is that no matter what your current circumstances, there is always a way out. If you take responsibility and stop blaming others or feeling sorry for yourself or complaining that you don't have enough time or enough money or resources to get the life you want, then you can achieve anything.  "The Pursuit of Happyness" shows what it means to be a REAL man. And besides the grim reality of homelessness and how sad it is that even in the richest nation on Earth, so many people have no roof over their head, the film has a message of hope at its core. I wish I'd seen it years ago when I was almost down and out. What I take from it now is that I can achieve even more with my life, which is why this year, I'm really stepping it up with my non-trading projects to create multiple income streams. Long term readers will know that trading has never been a passion of mine but I'm now venturing into areas which genuinely make me smile when I get up in the morning. None of them would have been possible if it weren't for me taking that chance on tennis trading though - just as Chris Gardner took a chance with stock-brokering.

If there's one thing I want to leave this blog with, it's the knowledge that if you want something badly enough, if you take a risk and go for it, if you have faith that it will work out and if you push yourself to the limit of your capabilities, you have the power within you to achieve an incredible life. The universe has a strange way of providing you with what you want when you really apply yourself. More and more people are waking up to this now (just have a search around YouTube if you don't believe me), particularly the younger generation. If someone had told me 6 years ago when I started this blog that I would have the life I have now, I would have spat my Ben and Jerrys right back in their face! But I kept going, mostly through fear and trial and error! It doesn't have to be that way though. Fear motivates you like nothing else but it's much better to start from a good place and don't do it alone; get help any way you can (books, videos, guides, mentors), be patient, create good habits, work on yourself and NEVER GIVE UP. Then true happiness won't be too far away.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Your Subconscious ALWAYS Wins!

In a recent post I talked about limiting beliefs which hold us back subconsciously from behaving in ways that will make us more successful. I recently came across an article (sorry, can't find the source to reference it) which shows how cutting edge research is now showing that our subconscious beliefs can even cause molecular changes in our genes. Here's a quote from the article:

“The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities.
After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences… which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation."
As I've mentioned recently, I attribute much of my success to a daily practice of meditation, visualisation and self-hypnosis. Part of the reason I do this is because of the health benefits which are now becoming widely known - the above quote showing just one of the many advantages. As I've also said before, the average person doesn't change without making a conscious effort to shift their thought patterns and beliefs. The old adage "A leopard doesn't change its spots" is only true to an extent though. People don't inherently change at all unless they take significant action to break the repeating patterns and cycles of their ingrained habits and beliefs. I would say only a tiny percentage of people ever do that. At this time of year, most of us have made our resolutions but how many actually succeed with them?

If you look around online you'll find various stats on New Year's resolutions but although the numbers vary, the general theme is consistent: most people fail. And fail very quickly! I read that the AVERAGE length of time before failure is 3-4 weeks. 24 days is the figure I saw in one piece of research. So TODAY is the day that the average person will be giving up on their 2017 resolution! And overall, less than 10% of people ever succeed. There's all sorts of explanations as to why this might be but it's one definitive answer in my opinion: change will only happen long term if it occurs at a subconscious level. Biologist and expert on subconscious beliefs, Dr. Bruce Lipton, offers a more profound insight, which will give you a clear idea of why changes in our beliefs need to happen at a subconscious level for it to have any meaningful and lasting effect in our day-to-day lives:

 "The major problem is that people are aware of their conscious beliefs and behaviors, but not of subconscious beliefs and behaviors. Most people don’t even acknowledge that their subconscious mind is at play, when the fact is that the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind and that we operate 95 to 99 percent of our lives from subconscious programs.
Your subconscious beliefs are working either for you or against you, but the truth is that you are not controlling your life, because your subconscious mind supersedes all conscious control. So when you are trying to heal from a conscious level –citing affirmations and telling yourself you’re healthy– there may be an invisible subconscious program that’s sabotaging you.”

So there you have it! Unless you put some deeper level of work in, the chances of you truly changing are slim.  Not saying it CAN'T happen but willpower is not enough on its own. That will get you started but unless you keep repeating the new good habit every day for months, it's almost impossible to create a new habit at a deep level. And as the stats show, most people don't have the willpower to do that. You will eventually revert back to whatever message is hidden in your subconscious, telling you to eat that Big Mac or that you'll never be good enough to get a better job or that you'd rather jack-off to Ana Ivanovic pics than go to the gym or that you will just let this trade run past your exit point this one last time...........Your subconscious ALWAYS wins! With things like meditation and hypnosis, you can actually change your DNA, change the record spinning in your mind so that you literally become a different person!

"She's retired, there may never be any more!" - a poor excuse for jacking off to this instead of improving your life.

I highly recommend Bruce Lipton's "The Biology of Belief" which is a groundbreaking book about the relatively new science of Epigenetics, which has been proven to show that environmental factors have a greater effect on our body than our genes. Our DNA is NOT set in concrete and does NOT 100% control our destiny. In fact, DNA can be altered by outside influences and that includes our own minds. If you learn to think in the correct manner, you can essentially change who you are. I can vouch for this first hand because the mental practices that I put in, day in, day out over a period of years, have given me strong, good habits which have changed my life forever. Once your subconscious mind is sending you the right messages, it becomes easier to ingrain good habits and once a habit is ingrained, it will normally stay for life.

That's how I'm able to maintain discipline when I trade. It's why I am never anything less than 100% thorough in my analysis. It's why I warm up before I even start trading. It's why I NEVER place straight bets. It's why I meditate every morning and twice a day if possible. It's why I cut out all the sugary crap (bye bye Ben and Jerrys, you will be missed!) and processed junk and started eating kale and drinking matcha tea. It's why I make sure I learn some Spanish every single day, even if it's just a couple of words because the habit is more important than  the intensity. It's why I try to read at least one chapter of a book every day. It's why I'm healthier, wealthier and most importantly, happier than I've ever been. So if you're really struggling to make lasting change in your life, just remember this: your subconscious ALWAYS wins!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The REAL Reasons Most Traders Fail

I've spoken to hundreds of aspiring traders in my career as a tennis trader. These are the top reasons that most people tend to think cause traders to bomb-out:

1. Poor strategy
2. Market is too tough/against them/rigged
3. Don't have the right trading skills/natural talent/aptitude

I've come to realise that these reasons are merely symptoms of the underlying causes of failure. The reality of why most people fail at trading is this:

1. Negative mindset
2. Motivation/desire not strong enough
3. Don't work on themselves

What do all these things have in common? They are all MENTAL issues. The first 3 reasons I listed are all specific to trading itself. The second 3 not only apply to trading but ANYTHING in life. So sort out those 3 mental issues and the 3 that are specific to trading will automatically resolve themselves.

Let's look at number 1: negative mindset. This is a mental issue which has its roots in low self-esteem. If you deep down don't think you will succeed at anything, you are guaranteed to fail. You can have a bank as big as Warren Buffet and every one of his strategies and you will still end up a loser because you already view YOURSELF as a loser. In my experience, although it may seem on the surface that most people are the opposite and get into trading believing that they are going to become a millionaire in 6 months, I see far more people who aim much lower than this. It's not because they are being "realistic" or "humble", it's because they don't think they are going to succeed. My advice is always to aim high but set a goal that is believable. If you aim low, you'll never get more than low and you probably won't even get that because there's a reason you aim low - you don't have the confidence or belief in yourself to be a winner.

I've never met anyone successful in any field who isn't positive. It's that simple. People who are naturally more negative in their general outlook on life are that way for a reason. Life has knocked them  around a bit. We aren't born negative. It's something drilled into us either by bad parents or by bad experiences. I should know, I used to be negative. At the time, I would've said I was just very sarcastic or just being realistic. But as I got older and was able to examine myself objectively (and with a good talking to from a friend!) I realised that I was actually cynical, depressed, morose, pessimistic and downright negative! And guess what? I was also highly unsuccessful. What I didn't realise at the time was that I was highly unsuccessful largely BECAUSE I was negative. Once I worked this out, a light-switch flicked on and everything started to change in my life. Almost instantly.

Many traders with a negative mindset will also try to learn trading entirely through trial and error and inevitably crash n burn. It's because they refuse to get help from others. Buying a book or a guide is often the last thing they do. They are more likely to scream "SCAMMER!" than to conceive of the idea that someone who has achieved what they are trying to might actually want to charge something in return for the hard graft they put in learning the ropes the hard way, and sharing that knowledge so that others don't have to. You've got no chance of making money in the trading game if you are negative because only a positive person has the willpower to keep going once the inevitable losses, bust banks and endless grind start to wear you down. Pessimists give up easily: optimists keep going for longer.

Onto number 2. I wrote in my previous post about having desire or more specifically a burning desire that will motivate you to get off your fat arse and start taking action. OK, you're still sitting on that fat arse when you trade but mentally, you are going to have to work those brain cells and fire up those neurons! Because in my honest opinion, most people fail at trading purely because they don't want it enough. Not enough to cancel that night out down the pub watching the match with the lads, to instead stay indoors and trade it alone. Not enough to cancel that date with that girl you don't even really fancy that much but think there might be a chance of getting some tonight, rather than spend quality time watching round 1, 250 level tennis, in front of 10 spectators.  Not enough to bother firing up the laptop to stare at a bunch of flashing numbers looking for patterns for three hours instead of firing up the laptop to binge watch another pointless Netflix show or jerking off to MILFs whilst shovelling Cheetos down your gullet because you're "too tired" after a hard day's graft. Not enough to sit and write down goals and plans and create strategies and tweak them and analyse graphs and read books (heaven forbid, reading!!) rather than just turn up at match time after drinking six pints and hope it all just "happens". Not enough to get out of that comfort zone of repetitive habits which control their life and mean that whilst they will probably always have a standard income, live in a standard house, with a standard 9-5 job, with a standard life, it will never amount to anything exciting or adventurous or abundant or wealthy or deep down, truly happy.

Too much time staring at this and not putting the hours in. STOP LOOKING!!

What I usually see in most traders is too much focus on strategy. It's all about finding a strategy. Gotta get a good strategy! If I can just get a strategy that makes money, I'll be rich! What they don't realise is, it's not the strategy that will make you profit, it's the IMPLEMENTATION of the strategy. And most traders cannot implement  a strategy properly, not matter how easy or tried and tested it is. Why? This brings us to number 3: because they do not work on themselves. I know of traders who will work ridiculously long hours day in, day out, trying to find or improve strategies. You cannot fault them for desire and effort. But they do little to no work on the one thing that might just make one of those strategies work - THEMSELVES!!

What do I mean by this? I mean deeply analysing their own thoughts, behaviours, habits and mentality. Trading is a mental game. Yes, you need a good strategy, the numbers have to add up but it's not as tough as most people seem to think to find a workable strategy. Mine is very simple. Buy low, sell high, basically. It's not hard to craft something from that. What IS hard is getting through all the crap stuck in our subconscious mind: all the limiting beliefs, the fear, the gambling mentality, the ego, the bad habits, repeating patterns. Most people try to ignore it and hope it goes away - IT WON'T!! Nothing will change unless you actively work on it. You could be sitting on a goldmine of a strategy but you'll never be able to get to the gold because you don't do any work on the thing that operates the digger - your mind!

Strategies or ideas for creating strategies are easy to find once you have the desire and the belief. Having the right trading skills (patience, discipline, numeracy, value spotting etc) are things that can be learnt. It's not about this myth of "natural talent". Some have a better aptitude for trading than others but it's nothing that can't be learnt, especially if you're willing to put the hours in and let others teach you. Work on yourself and you can be as good as the very best traders. As for blaming the market or other traders, that's a result of a negative mindset. There's always ways of making money in any liquid market. If you haven't found it, it's just because you've not persevered long enough. And that's all about mindset.