I cut my position way too late, he said in between bites of his favorite salmon maki. But it was still better, he added,than how I used to hold losing positions. It was a Thursday night,the Japanese joint was brimming with patrons.He was sitting by the corner table with three of his friends. The smell of miso soup and grilled wagyu wafted in the air. Waitresses in pink kimono rushing here and there. It was a scene they’ve grown familiar with, the scene of their monthly meetups. He held the wooden chopsticks in between his fingers, I must admitI was really tempted to go back to my old ways. He picked up the last piece of his maki, I wanted to average down on that loser, his lips curved into a smile. But I couldn’t bear seeing you guys tonight knowing I did not hold the end of my bargain. He cleaned off his plate well until the last crumb.
We all have goals we want to reach, good habits we want to develop. Some of them we’ve ticked off, others were left in the list for years, maybe decades, simply drowned in the pool of what-ifs and what-could-have-beens.What is probably one of the most underrated ways in achieving goals isthrough the power of accountability. Being accountable means taking complete ownership of your actions, decisions, and in this case, your goals.
Do Not Run from Social Expectations
Starting tomorrow, I will cut my positions when they hit their stop loss point, a trader tells himself, no one else. I will finish one book per month, he continued, and I will journal my trades by Monday. What do you think are the chances that the trader will achieve one of these? It’s always easier to look for excuses why you can’t do what you have to do when there’s only yourself to disappoint. No one else knows about it anyway, so what’s the harm in delaying your goals or putting them away altogether?
I will do 5 paper trades on this set-up, a trader tells a trusted friend, and I will send the results to you by month-end. This is the trader who is more likely to deliver.
Some people do not want to declare their plans out loud because they think that this is when they set themselves up to fail.The plan gets jinxed, they said. There is no such thing. The only reason why most people shy away from sharing their goals to someone is to avoid the pressures of expectation and commitment.Once you’ve declared your goals to other people, you are now under the vise grip of social expectation—this alone could motivate you. These people will now hold you accountable to your goals, making them more real. It puts some teeth into the process.
Making Accountability Work
When you allow yourself to be held accountable by someone who will encourage you, challenge you, you are not only holding yourself accountable to that person, but you are putting yourself on the hook with the universe as well.
Very few people understand the challenges that a stock trader goes through. Choosing the right accountability partner or group is crucial. They should be people you trust, those who you can be completely honest to and who can be completely honest to you. They will call you out when needed, they will affirm and encourage positive changes they see in your life, they will make sure that you are committed to what matters most to you. They will be as invested to your success, as you are to theirs.
Once you have chosen your accountability partners, schedule regular checkpoint meetups with them. All of you must keep track of each other’s progress. You cannot improve what you cannot measure. Set up a reward and punishment system as an added motivation factor. It pays to know what’s on the line. Most importantly, be open, trust and do not hold back. Here lies that real challenge, making yourself vulnerable to others, only a select few can. But communication is always the key.
Why There is Power in Numbers
Here is the irony. When a trader loses more than he could handle, instead of seeking help, he voluntarily casts himself into solitary confinement. He distances himself from his peers, he grows silent on social media, he stops attending meetups. He chooses to wallow in self-pity and remorse alone. He also chooses to get back on his feet alone. While doing things on your own is okay, having a support group accelerates the entire process. These are people who will carry you forward when you can’t feel your legs anymore.
The American Psychological Association published an article citing studies that prove that peer interactions tap into a lot of therapeutic factors. Members can be agents of change for each other. Seeing someone’s progress can help others realize they, too, can improve and be better.
There is no shame in losing and getting lost. But some stay lost longer than others. If you’re real in achieving your goals, in breaking bad habits and building good ones, stop talking and start working. Do specific actions that will move you forward. Allow yourself to experience the full force, the grunt, the beauty of accountability.