In a volatile market, traders and investors alike endure daily fluctuations between emotional highs and lows. Facing this reality each morning can be a numbing experience that, over time, can lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion.A long week of bad trading days can make you feel like you've gone one round with Mike Tyson in a back alley. However, a great week can leave you experiencing emotional highs that border on euphoria. These extreme mood elevations may leave you feeling exhausted, as if you've just come off the highs and lows of a three-day gambling jaunt to Las Vegas. For many professionals, the taxing nature of working in a high-stress job, in conjunction with the ups and downs of investing, creates a daily battle to maintain positive momentum in their lives. "Jon" is a hedge fund portfolio manager who came to me for performance coaching amidst a bad month of trading. He reported that he couldn't get out of bed in the morning and felt powerless to break out of this long streak of failure. He was emotionally tapped out and began questioning his future with the firm. Jon mentioned that he has always been very critical of himself for mistakes and that he always compared his success with that of his colleagues. The prospect of going to work each day was growing increasingly more difficult for him.
The BreakdownJon is more exemplary of the typical client that I see on a daily basis in practice. Perfectionists hate being wrong for any long period of time. They measure their success by the size of their monthly returns and look around the trading floor to see who has been right more frequently than they have been. Emotional numbing and work apathy at the start of each morning are consistent outcomes for individuals struggling to produce with this mental makeup. Jon needed to stop second-guessing his strategies, as that was decreasing his risk appetite.
Morning Pep TalkFor those experiencing behavioral paralysis that halters any motivation to get to work each day, try committing to some of the following motivational catalysts. For black-and-white thinkers like Jon, this technique will make hard times seem temporary and changeable rather than permanent and hopeless. For those like Dave, it will force them to realize how much they have at stake with their career and how much discipline success truly requires. At the start of every new day, wake up, get out of bed and recite one or all of the following:
- Today is a new day and will be a new start for me.
- I get paid to make tough decisions!
- My actions this morning will impact how I feel and how I produce later today.
- I remember how much work I put into getting into this high-stakes career. I will not take it for granted!
- I can control my thoughts and be disciplined to make better decisions.
- Swing through the hitting zone and focus on fundamentals.
- It is what it is!