I have absolutely appalling taste in music. Seriously. Those “explicit lyrics” tags on albums were probably made specially to warn those around me who might be within earshot. (ed. by husband: 100% truth.) When I’m visiting my mother, I have to make sure I have headsets on so that she can’t hear the lyrics. (She has a certain high opinion of me, after all!) And yet those raucous, head-banging, crazy tunes help me trade.
At the Trading Triangle in Maui (there’s that phrase again!), we talked about what gets you into The Zone. Getting INTO The Zone has never been a problem for me. What IS a problem is staying there, particularly when I’m not actually doing anything. I spend a lot of time trying to get good executions, which means that I spend a lot of time doing… nothing. Watching ticks, futures and other charts and indicators is all well and good but I get antsy. I get bored. I start believing that time is passing by quickly and I’m going to miss my window for good pricing so I might as well do it RIGHT NOW. Especially since I’m bored.
I’ve tried doing other things while I’m working on a trade (jigsaw puzzles, catching up on emails, cleaning, organizing, watching webinars, backtesting, etc.) but most of them require too much of my attention. Then *poof*, just like that, I’m out of The Zone. So what can I do to keep me alert and focused on my trading?
Music. (see music list on Day 30 of the 30-day affirmation challenge) Listening to music while I’m trading has saved me more than once from getting impatient and executing the trade just as the market was changing in my favor. It keeps me from being hyper aware of time passing. It helps bleed off some energy, too. After all, how can you listen to music without moving? I conduct to classical, get funky with hip-hop, mambo to Latin, head bang to rock and tap my toes to jazz. (ed. by husband: Also 100% true.)
Most importantly, though, it keeps me from being bored. Boredom is a dangerous emotional state when trading. You should be confident, unstressed and relaxed… but never bored. When I’m bored, I have a tendency to let my mind wander and not fully focus on the task at hand. This means that I’m out of The Zone. Time to get back in!
When I asked at the Trading Triangle, only two of us had “trading music”. I was actually rather dismayed since I didn’t think that I was doing anything unusual other than some of my MOVES but we won’t talk about those. I figured that listening to music was fairly typical. (For the record, the other trader was Dave Thomas and, in case you’re wondering, he tended toward classic rock. Good taste in music there! He didn’t offer any insights on his moves but I’m happy to have a mental image of Dave The Rocker nonetheless.)
Now, I don’t expect you all to convert to my musical proclivities. Though in my defense, I have several different types of music that I will listen to depending on whether I’m modeling a trade, watching the market or actually trading. I’ve been known to work while listening to everything from smooth jazz to classical to hip-hop to rock. (See? It’s not ALL explicit.) (ed. by husband: Just most of it.) You might want to give it a try, too, and see if it helps keep you calmer and in The Zone. Different genres will appeal to different people.
On the other hand, you may also find that it’s too distracting and you like your silence. I’m still curious, though… how many of you trade to music? If not, how do you stay in The Zone?
And just for the record, no, I am NOT going to link to any videos of my music library. Not until you all swear that you’re over 21. At least.
Written and contributed by Cynthia Sarver, Successful Options Trader of the Month – February 2016