When you are marching toward some goal, like trading excellence, you might do so by overcoming obstacles. When your focus is on problems you have, such as the lack of funds or limited resources or limited knowledge, you are probably going to generate feelings of guilt, anger or frustration in yourself. Little is usually accomplished from such mental states. You feel stuck and your orientation toward “stuckness” tends to persist.

Whatever you cannot accomplish in life is a model of a stuck state. Early in life, when you tried to accomplish something, you probably were attacked by some sort of unforgiving failure. The problem was not so much the failure as the intensity of the attack. That event planted a psychological stop sign in front of you whenever you started in certain directions. And, that psychological stop sign has an impact that is as strong on you as the original bashing. It creates internal conflict when you attempt to accomplish certain things, with part of you wanting to go on and part of you wanting to retreat. You go back and forth, oscillating, producing a stuck state of mind.

When people are stuck, you can see the oscillation in their bodies. Typically, they see two pictures. With the first blink, they see what they want and with the second picture, they see their psychological stop sign. You can observe this in sales professionals, for example. The sales person wants to make the sale. Yet, on the other hand, he hates rejection. He either decides, “I can do this, but I don’t have a worthwhile product” or “My product is good, but people just don’t respond to me.” The result is usually the stuck state of procrastination.

The same goes for the trader. One part of the trader says “Get out of the trade, it’ s***your exit point and you need to cut your losses short.” Another part says, “Stay in the trade, it’ll turn around and you don’t want to take a loss now.” And usually the result is a stuck state.

I’ve seen hundreds of people in stuck states. One that was particularly striking was a man in his forties who still lived with his parents. He wanted to go out on his own, but something held him in place, dependent upon his parents. When I saw him, he had decided that trading was a way he could earn money to escape. However, he’d become stuck because earning enough money to escape would result in an extreme negative state. As a result, he found he could not pull the trigger.

Every time we put something off, some dream or goal, we start to oscillate. We want to achieve our dream or goal, but we also want to avoid the pain that it takes to accomplish the task. The result is e-motion–a lack of motion outside and an intense motion inside of ourselves.

Some Simple Solutions:

When you are stuck, the more effort you put into trying to un-stick yourself, the worse off you become. It’s a little like being stuck in quicksand–the more you struggle the quicker you sink. The first solution is always to relax and often move slightly in the direction that is opposite to what your instincts tell you. For example, a pilot going into a nosedive must first push gently into the dive to get air flowing under the wings properly. At that point he can begin to control the airplane. Similarly, when you start to skid in your car, you must first steer into the skid until you gain control over the car–which our natural reaction is to do the opposite.

If you are stuck in your goal of becoming an excellent trader, try doing the opposite of your instincts. If you must take a trade, make it okay not to take the trade. Instead, move toward working on your emotions.

The second solution is to focus on what you want. When you focus on limitations, you feel the emotions of the stop sign or the limitation. When you focus on what you want to achieve, then you begin to see possibilities and new resources that open you up. What is your focus?

Finally, the third solution is to focus on being what you want to be. If you want to be a great trader, don’t focus on what they have or do, focus on their state of being. What is it like to be a great trader? What is it like to step into their shoes?

I do an exercise in our Peak Performance Workshop in which I ask students to step out of a stuck state to notice what they look like. This dissociates the person and takes them out of the stuck state. I then ask them to imagine a great trader in that same situation. What would that trader look like? What would they be like? I then ask them to step into the beingness of the great trader. The result is almost instant transformation. Try it.