Yesteraday finally watched Inception over the weekend and found it to be the most enjoyable movie so far of the summer. Of course, that’s not saying much as we continue to despise much of the garbage coming out of Hollywood these days, but we both found the movie fascinating.
One of the things in the movie that got me to thinking is the concept that when we sleep our minds keep working through problems at a higher level in order find and create solutions. I don’t know about you, but I immediately identified with this. In fact it caused me to remember something I use to do many years ago while in college but haven’t been doing lately due to my early-morning “up at 5″ work schedule. That is, whenever I ran into a difficult impasse in my research and work, I would often spend the last 30 minutes before bed simply thinking and studying the problem I was facing. Then after going to bed while I was asleep my mind would continue working on it so that when I would awake the next morning I’d have a new angle or approach to work on.
While the process didn’t always work and sometimes resulted in an unrestful night’s sleep as I tossed and turned throughout the night, by taking time out of my day to think about a problem without distractions before bed at times did enable me to find creative solutions that seemed to work more often than not. Although I’ve done the same thing for years through daily meditation (20 minutes each and every day), I must confess I think there is something to the process of preparing your mind to work on problems while you sleep and completely free from distractions, especially if you’re faced with a particularly cumbersome or complicated challenge.
Many of you are probably not surprised to hear me say that I think time spent to concentrated thought without any distractions is something I think many traders lack these days. As all of us continued to be constantly bombarded with real-time information, I think many have become far more reactionary than “thought” driven. At some level that is ok for some strategies (like day trading for example), but it wreaks havoc on others.
It has also been my experience through working one-on-one with members in the mentorship group that most are not devoting enough “think time” in their daily routines. In my experience, the average person only takes less than 5 minutes a day (if that) to actually think through their trades, strategies, and plans. That’s not enough! Not by a long shot!
For that reason alone, mixing up your routine to enable your mind to think without distractions while you sleep may be at least something you’ll want to try. While I know from experience that I always receive dubious feedback whenever I recommend utilizing meditation and breathing techniques to help clear the mind, boost productivity, and overall performance, you may want to at least try mixing up your work schedule a little bit in order to gear and ramp up your mental state more effectively. In addition, if you’re not devoting some time every day (at least 30 minutes) free from all distractions to think about your strategies, positions, and performance, then I truly believe you are not really giving yourself the best chance for success.
The more the world speeds up and becomes even more reactionary, the more important I think it will be for those of us engaged in the markets to think more and react less.