The normal human being is always moved to seek pleasure and avoid pain. From the time that we are little ones, we seek the pleasure associated with eating, playing, touching, pounding, grabbing, standing, running and myriad of other endeavors that may seem inconsequential to an adult, but remain firmly in the pleasure zone for little ones. Of course, pleasure is not lost to the adolescent or adult. Things like music, art, sex, friends, food, drink, dance and a gazillion other things that humans find pleasurable are staples of what humans would describe as a good life. Within the context of pleasure and pain, we can’t forget the comfort zone.
The comfort zone is that ubiquitous description of being or feeling safe, void of the normal threats of life. Everyone has a comfort zone and, of course, examples are easily found in trading. Most traders have very small comfort zones and it doesn’t take very much to knock them outside of that zone; whereupon they will immediately scramble to get back in. In the process of attempting to get back in, they are seeking relief of the discomfort through a behavior that is expedient and, for the most part, a violation of a trade rule. In fact, every time you get an urge to violate a rule, the true underlying reason for the urge is to avoid discomfort and pain. It is not due to the oft repeated logical reason often quoted, which is to avoid the loss.
Now, let’s be clear, desiring to dodge a loss is part of the challenge but it is not the primary reason by a long shot. Why? Because every time you perceive a threat to your trade, even though many of them eventually have to do with sidestepping a loss, all of them involve the pain associated with fear, anxiety, self-doubt and anger, etc. traders feel when a trade starts going south.
Now, beyond the trade, the comfort zone feels good, but it is nothing more than an acknowledgement of how safety and security feels. In other words, the beauty of a relaxing altered state is in the comfort zone and it is truly good for you; so comfort zones are not all bad…just be careful not to immerse yourself too deep in the comfort zone as you trade. Even though everyone likes to be in the comfort zone from time to time, it is also important to be willing and ready to step up to the challenge purposefully.
The comfort zone can be thought of as a kind of benchmark…a benchmark that helps you determine how you will approach both life and the trade. In the comfort zone, you are in no danger but also the comfort zone holds no growth. But, don’t let this one drawback convince you that there are insufficient benefits that can be experienced by emerging from the comfort zone. Here are four points on effectively dealing with the comfort zone.
Consistently successful trading as expressed through diligent and vigilant process execution that by definition challenges each trader to go outside of the comfort zone, beyond the bubble of automatic thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Your trading life is the sum total of all of your experiences, not just the ones you are comfortable with.
Anytime you challenge yourself, it causes you to use a personal store of untapped knowledge and resources. The extent of your true self and what you are capable of will remain a mystery if you don’t venture out of your own familiar world.
In order to experience growth, you must confront the fear-laced behaviors and challenge yourself which means taking risks no matter what the outcome. Also, mistakes can and will happen, but the aim is to test yourself and learn from the data that comes out of those tests. No high achiever has made it without failing…it is part of your trading success story.
The mediocre is constantly aiming to seduce you. The mediocre is in the comfort zone and causes you to half-heartedly approach the demons of your trading. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should take bad risks to show that you’ve got the willingness to do something difficult. There are plenty of ways to go for what you want while maintaining a standard of excellence.
Change is inevitable and getting outside of your comfort zone prepares you for the most in-your-face trading challenges. If you are thoughtful and focused on what matters most in your trading it will make the changes you seek substantive and relevant and that will take you a long way toward becoming a consistently successful trader. Life transitions are all about change and each time you transition in your trading to another level you are also developing the strengths of yourself. This is what we teach in Mastering the Mental Game online and on-location courses. Ask your Educational Counselor for more information. Also, get my book, From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.
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