Richard heaved a heavy sigh. He was thoroughly perplexed, confused, frustrated and dejected as he struggled to understand why the stock he was trading had taken a dive in the late afternoon. The Earnings Report had good news and what’s more, the Bloomberg analyst had noted that it should rise. Well, it did, just before it crashed…with him in tow. He thought he had read his Stochastic, MACD, CCI and Bollinger Bands accurately; and of course he still had 3 moving averages and his RSI to rely upon as well. What was wrong? And, why did he continue to lose, over and over. Had not his trading buddies told him that this system was strong? They must not know what they are talking about. Sure, he had moved his stop, but just the other day didn’t he get an internet program that was selling a system that said he didn’t need stops any longer. And, of course there were the interruptions from his wife who never seems to understand that he needs to be left alone when he is trading…she continues to bother him at just the wrong time. And, she allows Buck in his trading room knowing that the dog won’t be quiet while continually nudging him.
If only he could get a system that works; and, if only his wife would support him more; and, if only things would work the way they are supposed to! Richard was stuck in a downward spiral and was looking everywhere but where it counts…inside.

Richard, unfortunately, is not alone in his misguided belief that most if not all of his issues are caused by someone or something outside of himself. Firstly, he doesn’t realize that he is exactly where he should be. That means that based upon the conditions and circumstances present in his trading and in his life, that is, he relied on outside variables like internet programs, news, and friends; he negotiated with his wife, or not, just enough that she misunderstands his needs while trading; and he has disregarded important facts within his trading environment in order to be confused and frustrated. In other words he is exactly where he should be and getting exactly the results that he should get based upon the conditions and circumstances present in his trading and his life. The Universe is based upon cause and effect. If you set a cause in motion there will be a corresponding effect. For example, if you have tried to lose weight you might think that you “should” weigh something different from your current weight. But, how could you? You ate just the right amount of food (junk or otherwise), you vegged out on the couch just the right amount of times, and you exercised (or not) just the right amount of times to be exactly the weight that you are…you should be that weight. Why, because you are. Any thought that you “should” be different is a rejection of reality and a failure to accept what is fact. Richard has failed to accept reality as he blames his conditions and circumstances on outside forces. He also has failed to take personal accountability for his results, and he has seduced himself into thinking that they are not his fault.

The dictionary defines accountable as being held to account for an outcome. Additionally, if you were to look up responsible, it would define this term similarly. I take a different view. To be responsible is to accept or have someone anoint you as the person who “can” respond to an event, issue or situation. On the other hand, to be accountable is to be held to actively “account” for the results that have transpired. I can be responsible for a trade going sour. But, that does not mean that I will necessarily do something to ensure that I’ll use the feedback to adjust and do better next time. Conversely, if I am held “accountable” for these results then I am more likely to be emotionally and cognitively invested in that outcome so that I will adjust my behavior accordingly to achieve the desired results. In my mind, one is more passive in nature – responsible; and the other is more active in nature – accountable. So, what does that mean for you and your trading? Everything!

You are responsible for your trades. If you execute it, then you own it; but that doesn’t mean that you will “accept” responsibility or hold yourself accountable for the results. Many traders blame everything and anyone for their results. These traders also continually seek outside themselves for the answers to their issues and shortcomings. What’s more is that they crowd their charts with so many indicators and tools that the price action can barely be seen. These are symptoms of a lack of alignment and integrity in trading. It is also indicative of a failed approach to achieving long term objectives.

In order to be consistently successful you must be self-aware while in the trade; that means you are focused with intention on what matters most in the trade. It means that you are in the moment, for the moment, fully available and in the now of the trade. Self-aware also means that you are tracking your thoughts, emotions and behaviors because these internal variables are what drive your execution. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have, if your internal data is conflicted, confused and confounded, you are not going to execute according to plan while maintaining your rules. That requires that you be diligent and vigilant about what is going on both inside of you and outside. You must be accountable for your thoughts, emotions and behavior at every juncture of the trade. You must be active in this pursuit if you are to be deliberate and trade by design in a “rule based” protocol. If you hold yourself accountable you are more prone to identify what is working and what is not working both internally with regard to issues that surface in your trading and with your strategies, set-ups and procedures (protocols). What’s more, you can’t identify what is working or not working unless you are documenting your mechanical data (everything that has to do with market information) through a Trade Log; and documenting your internal data (thoughts, emotions and behaviors associated with the trade) in your Thought Journal. This is true accountability.

So, take control of your process first by holding yourself accountable for all of your results. Remain self-aware in order to weed out and root out negative issues that are caused by limiting beliefs and unruly emotions that lead to conflicted executions and rule violations. You can’t change what you can’t face and you can’t face what you don’t know. If you do this you will get closer to your A-Game, which is what you must do if you want to begin to get the results that deep down you know you can and deserve.