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Dorn: Are You Living (And Trading) In The Here And Now?

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, and find your eternity in each moment…Henry David Thoreau

How do we create our best life? How do we find that longed-for balance of fulfillment, orderliness, financial stability, and relationships? How do we produce the outcome we want in any area of life? And when do we achieve it?

There are thousands of so-called experts on this subject. They claim to know more about what is good for us than we do ourselves. They bombard us with a continual flood of information and incentives about how to improve our health, our income, our looks and just about every aspect of our lives. Vulnerable and needy individuals are thirsting for their advice. The “perfect life gurus” are selling something we want. They’re selling the hope of an outcome, and we are buying—to the tune of billions of dollars a year!

How is this working out for us? Is it actually working out? Or are we getting stuck in hope and not moving beyond it? For most of us, it seems we are neither achieving the outcome and, perhaps more unsettling—we seem to have lost our way.

Hope and outcome aren’t bad in and of themselves.

Great achievements started with hope, but they needed action to implement them. Hope without action is just that. Outcome? We can’t know what we don’t know and no one knows the future. As a trader, one of my daily affirmations is: Detach from the outcome of each trade.

Even after the carnage of 2008, there are traders that refuse to sell short because they are attached to the outcome of being long. It’s anti-American, disloyal to short,” say those who hold on to stocks far longer than they should. “You’re turning your back on a long-time friend! Winners never quit and quitters never win,” and so on. They are attached to the outcome, thinking that letting go of their unproductive stock picks would prove disastrous (They It will come back—I just know it!’) Many are still in the buy and cry mode, despite suffering enormous losses to their portfolios—sometimes as much as 40-60%

They have stepped out of the present moment into the hands of some unknown future where the power is out of their control. Many who have not opened their brokerage statements for months because “I can’t stand to look anymore” are now in the buy and deny mode.

This is similar to people who stay in bad relationships. Even though the hurtful behaviors never change, some days are better than others—enough to create the slim hope that he or she will one day wake up and everything will be just wonderful. Meanwhile, the relationship is like a roller coaster ride with breathtaking dips, pitches, jolts, bumps, and curves. What might have been fun and enjoyable becomes painful, unpredictable, and out of control. A couple with that sort of a yo-yo pattern is attached to the outcome that things will be better–tomorrow. So they don’t live in “today,” staying instead in the rut of hope---day after day, tomorrow after tomorrow. Eventually they wake up and realize nothing they had hoped for came true for them. What a sad day that is! It doesn’t have to be yours.

In all areas of life, including trading, if you can make that transition to get out of the future and back to the present, you can be in control of what you think and what you do, especially with your stock positions. Sever your attachment to outcome, and think, “There is no tomorrow, just today. Just now. This is the perfect moment and I am always in it.”

I know from personal experience how liberating this is.

That was the basis for my first book: Personal Responsibility: The Power Of You. I strive every day to take personal responsibility for everything I say, do, feel and think. The only way to do this is to constantly come back center—to the moment, the here and now. I don’t always succeed, but that is not the point. It’s about progress—not perfection—much the same as learning to trade or striving to be the best human being we can be. Being in the present brings freedom and authenticity. It means that we are radically honest with ourselves and others and that we stand ready to accept the consequences—no matter what they are. We are not living in some future fantasy world. We are fully present in the flow of whatever is going on.

In the markets, flow behavior is rewarded because it allows us to be flexible, adaptable and give us what the markets are offering—rather than what we think they ought to offer. It reminds us that every moment in the markets is unique and that anything can happen at any time. By releasing attachment to outcome, we have freedom to be fully in control of how we respond. It releases us from the chaos of reacting, from rat-braining and from the emotional gyrations that almost always lead to losses.

It leads us to come back constantly to the nine most important words each of us can ever ask: “Is this the best I can do right now?”

The point of power is always in the present moment…Louise L. Hay

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Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D., is a financial psychiatrist and chief global risk strategist for Ingenieux Wealth Management in Sydney, Australia. She also offer trading consulting and coaching services via her Web site, TheTradingDoctor.com.