Podcast – Episode 67 – How To Overcome Doubt

Do you ever feel doubt before you put on a trade? A little feeling that, “Oh my God, I don’t know if I should do this one. Oh geez, I don’t know if this is going to work out. Is this a good idea to do this trade or do it right now? Maybe I should wait, maybe not.” We all do. It’s normal. It’s part of trading because when we’re trading, we need to be right, but we can never be 100% certain. There’s no a hundred percent guaranteed sure thing trade that we can have no doubt about it and just put it on and be like, “Yes, I’m going to make money on this trade.” It doesn’t work that way. Anything could happen. That’s why trading is so lucrative because you’re dealing with the unknown.

You’re kind of like Elsa in Frozen 2, you’re going into the unknown and that’s what traders get paid for. And that’s what we as investors have to take into account and we have to overcome, because I’ve seen, especially newer traders, that doubt that fear stops them in their tracks, where they don’t put on trades or once they put on a trade, they don’t want to touch it. They don’t want to adjust it. They don’t want to get out and so what could of been a small loss turns into a big loss or what could have been an awesome trade gets skipped because they’re just afraid. There was one fellow in particular, his name was Jim, taught him the whole strategy. He knew it backwards and forwards. He could recite it to me better than I could myself. He knew the rules of the strategy.

He knew the rules of the trade and he could put a trade on almost better than anybody else, but the doubt of losing money or the fear of losing money would keep him from not staying in the trade. He would always jump out well before he was supposed to, and so he could not make a positive winning trade because he just kept getting out too fast. Anytime he would start losing a little bit of money, he would jump out even though that’s not the way selling options works. A lot of times you put on a trade where you sell options and it might be negative for a few days. You might be sitting on a loss, eventually time to gain kicks in and that loss starts to go away and eventually turns out, hopefully in your favor. But even with the odds in our side, even with time on our side, there are no slam dunks. There is no 100%.

And so in this episode I wanted to talk about a way that you can overcome this doubt and put yourself in a situation that will be beneficial so that you have a little bit more confidence going into your trade, so you feel not only better about yourself, but a better about the trade as well. So I have to tell you about a cartoon. It’s funny, right? We’re going to talk about trading, but we’re going to learn about trading through a cartoon. There’s this cartoon called Bob the Builder. Now Bob cartoon series started back in 1999, and he is a nice fellow. He’s a cartoon. He’s not a regular cartoon. He’s little bit animated, little different type of animation than your average Mickey Mouse or your Cinderella type cartoon.

But anyway, Bob runs a construction company and all of his employees are construction equipment. So the backhoe and the bulldozer and the whole makey-thingy machine, they’re all his employees or partners or friends or whatever, and they all talk. And in every episode they’re given different jobs to do around town and build this or do this or pay that or whatever, and eventually they get into trouble. And so Bob comes to the rescue and he has to motivate his team because now they’re all sad that something bad happened and they don’t know what to do about it. So Bob comes in and he asks them this one question. he goes, “Guys, can we fix it?” And all of his teammates, they all get excited and they’ll smile and say, “Yes, we can fix it. We can do it,” and that’s how he motivates them. That’s how he gets them on his side. That’s how he gets them all upbeat and ready to do whatever is needed. And then they find a solution and then they put it into place and it works, and there’s always a happy ending in every episode.

Now when it comes to motivation, asking a question is a little bit counterintuitive because whenever you talk to or listen to or read any of the self-help, motivational speaker type gurus out there, they don’t tell you to ask questions. They tell you to be authoritative. The Tony Robbins or the Jack Canfields, Og Mandinos, Napoleon Hills, all these guys, they all tell you to do the same thing. They tell you to say an affirmation and be positive and tell yourself how good you are and how smart you are and how wonderful you are and how everything’s going to work out for the best. Put it out into the universe and it’s going to happen and talk as if it’s already happened. Not, “I’m going to make $1 million,” but, “I’ve already made $1 million,” kind of thing. So which one of these philosophies actually works better? Is it the question where, “Can I fix it?” Or is it the statement where, “I can fix it”? which one works better?

Now in order to figure out the answers, we turn to some researchers. There was a group of researchers from the University of Illinois and also the University of Southern Mississippi who wanted to figure this out. So they ran a series of experiments in which they gathered several participants and they had to solve puzzles. Okay? The first experiment, the basic one, they basically broke them up into two different groups and the first group was told to ask themselves whether they would solve the puzzles. Basically, “Hey, ask yourself. Use a question and say, ‘Will I solve the puzzle?'” The second group was told to tell themselves that they will solve the puzzles, so very authoritative. Be like, “Yes, I’m going to solve the puzzle.” Which group do you think did better? Well, the group that asked themselves if they’re going to solve the puzzles, solved 50% more puzzles than the other group. And then they repeated this experiment in multiple ways, they did it with writing.

They had the subjects write down, before the experiment, the words will I or the words I will and the group that’s wrote will I, again, solved 50% more puzzles. Why is this? Well, researchers, they did more studies and more research and they tried to figure this out. They came up with two reasons. The first reason is that by its very form, when you ask a question, you give yourself an answer. So if we’re going to ask ourself a question and say, “Should I put this trade on,” or “Am I a good trader?” Instead of saying, “I’m a good trader, I’m a great trader. I’m going to trade, trade, trade.” It doesn’t help you overcome a lot of fear of if you should be doing that particular trade. It doesn’t make sense. When you ask yourself the question, you give yourself an answer automatic. So if the question is, “Should I do this trade?” or “Should I be a trader?” or “Should I be an investor? Should I invest in this?” The answer comes back to, “Yes” or “No.” And if it’s a, “Yes,” then you’re going to give yourself a reason or an answer. “Why?” And if it’s a, “No,” you’re probably going to come up with a reason why and if it’s a good reason, then you can fix that so that you can go and do the trade.

The second reason is that the self-talk, when you’re talking to yourself, when you’re asking a question and you’re telling yourself the answer, it helps you to visualize your end goal, and that goal becomes an intrinsic goal instead of an extrinsic goal. So it’s going to be more about, “If I put this trade on, if I do a good trade, then I’ll feel better about myself,” versus “Oh yeah, I’m a good trader. I’m going to go get me a Ferrari,” kind of thing. So those two reasons were what researchers came up with. Now when we’re putting on a trade, again, there’s no sure thing. Of course experience helps, but if there’s a bear market, if there’s a high volatility market, if things are going on that have never happened before, then even experienced traders don’t know what to do. And we have doubts and say, “Man, should I be really doing this trade? Should I be putting this trade on?” And if you’re feeling that doubt, then you can ask yourself a series of questions instead of just trying to pump yourself up.

Now I definitely believe that you should pump yourself up if you’re feeling doubt, and if you cannot even do a single trade, then you need to ask these questions even more. But if you’re feeling that hesitation, “Oh, man, I don’t know if I should do this,” that means that something’s not aligned physically, emotionally, spiritually. Maybe something is not aligned with your trade and you need to get to the bottom of it and ask yourself some questions. One of the questions would be, “Should I even be doing this trade?” It’s not a question of, “Can I trade? Can I be a trader?” Yes, you can be a trader. If you don’t know that, then I’m telling you right now, yes, you can be a successful trader. There are other people out there that are stupider than you that are doing well at it. Okay? I’m sure that you can do it. “Can I be a trader? Can I be a successful investor at that?” That question, let’s just take it off the table. The answer is yes. If you don’t believe it, I’m telling you the answer is yes. Okay?

Now the next question is, “Should I do a particular trade?” And when you ask yourself that question, then you have to dig in further and you have to justify it and you just say, “Oh, I heard Jim Cramer on his Mad Money show talk about XYZ stock and the CEO came and I really liked the guy’s tie so I’m going to buy this company and I think the shares are going to go up.” That’s not a very good reason, right? “Should I buy that stock?” If that’s the reason, because you liked the guy’s tie, maybe when you say that to yourself, when you answer that question, “Should I do this trade?” And you tell yourself, “I’m doing it because I like the guy’s tie,” I think you’ll figure it out yourself that, “Okay. That’s not a good reason. Maybe I should do a little bit more research or maybe I don’t do the trade.” But once you ask that question, “Should I do the trade?” it leads you to the next question, “What do I expect the trade to happen? What happens if the best case scenario happens? What happens if the worst case scenario happens? What do I think the stock’s going to do and what happens or what do I do to the trade if it works out in my favor? What do I do if the trade doesn’t work out?” That way, you’re prepared for both eventualities.

If it works out, great. You know what to do. You know how to get out and you get to be happy. If it doesn’t work out, you’re prepared in advance for anything that could happen, especially if it doesn’t work out in your favor, but you know in advance, so that eliminates some of the doubt. If you know you have a justification for why you’re doing the trade, if you have some reasons, if you know what you’re going to do if the trade works out in your favor, if you know what you’re going to do if the trade doesn’t work in your favor. It goes against you. If you know what you’re going to do in advance, it takes away doubt. So if you’ve been having trouble putting on trades, whenever you listen to this, the market might be topsy-turvy. It may be very volatile. It might be going straight up. It might be going straight down, might be going sideways. I don’t know.

But in all markets, there are trades that are possible to be made. If you’re feeling doubt, that’s your self telling you that something is not aligned. And yes, you could be just rah-ing yourself and telling yourself, “Yeah, yeah. I’m going to make $100,000 today,” or “I’m going to make $100 today trading. I’m going to be do this, rah rah. I’m the best trader in the world. Woo-hoo,” or you can be real and you can ask yourself some questions and use that as a way to pump you up and to motivate you. So can you fix it? Yes, you can because Bob Builder does and that’s how he motivates his staff. Now in Bob’s case, he’s a cartoon. His viewership, his audience, is little children. So whenever he says, “Can we fix it?” All the little kids that are watching, they respond with, “Yes, we can.”

I don’t want us to say, “Can we trade?” because that’s not the right question for us. We’re not trying to get little kids to give us a positive answer. We’re not asking the question for anybody else. We’re asking the question for ourselves. “Can we trade?” is not the right question. It should be based on each individual trade. “Should I be doing this trade?” and you have to have a legitimate reason. If you do have a legitimate reason and you know what you’re going to do in advance, that will help you cut through the doubt. And actually, if you put on the trade and keep your head in the trade, in the game, while the trade is going on so you don’t lose your cool, you don’t get caught like a deer in the headlights and not know what to do if the trade goes against you. I hope this was helpful. If you have doubt, listen to this a couple times, go through the process. It definitely helps. Remember trade with the odds in your favor.

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