Following on from my piece on success last week I noticed that New Scientist had a longer form piece on habits, how you break the bad ones and make the good ones. I have mentioned before that I think everyone should subscribe to this magazine for the very simple reason that the best pieces of information regarding trading are not actually found in trading books, magazines or newspapers. As an example of this Sync by Steven Strogatz is one of my favourite non trading trading books.
The main article sits behind a pay wall but you can get part of it here. The article rounds off with a series of points on how to make or break a habit and they include the following.
1. Schedule It – This is part of my mantra that routine is king, I have a rule if it is not in the diary then it doesn’t exist as an event. The thinking here is that by making it routine and real it has more chance of sticking and becoming part of your unconscious behaviour.
2. Be Specific – Having a predetermined outcome is crucial to success. My view of this is that it looks in on our goal orientation. For example, many people start the year with a view to getting fitter but without some form of metric to define what this means it is somewhat nebulous and has such slips away very easily.
3. Go Easy On Yourself – Setbacks happen, movement towards a positive habit or away from a negative one should be treated much like an equity curve. Your expectation is not that your equity curve is linear but rather that it has lumpy patches in where things are not perfect. Whilst, I agree with the general advice I sometimes think people are too easy on themselves and let themselves off without adequately sitting with the pain of their misdeed.
4. Start Now – This seems rather obvious.
5. Be Patient – Things take time.