Bruce Bower from HowOfTrading.com wrote a terrific series on visualization for trading, titled Everything You Wanted to Know About Visualization and Trading (link here). The 3-part series is the best that I have come across on trading visualization. Bruce gives step-by-step instructions on exactly how to do it, different techniques to work on different areas, explains why it works, explains the finer points (3rd-person’s perspective rather than 1st-person), etc.
I have written down below a quick summary of the techniques below. The summary is not meant to be used for practice, please refer to the detailed steps in Bruce’s original articles.
Why Visualization Works
- Visualization works because your brain activates the same neural pathways as when you actually perform an action. Your brain equates it with the real thing.
Watch Yourself From a 3rd-Person’s Perspective, Not in 1st-Person
- There are two viewing positions: associated (i.e. experiencing it as if from our own eyes) and dissociated (i.e. watching ourselves from a distance).
- Dissociated images have less emotional impact than associated. By watching yourself trade, you get a much better idea of everything you are doing when you’re trading, so it’s actually better for mental practice. And trading is supposed to be dispassionate, so you are reinforcing that.
- You can place yourself back in your own body at the very end of the day, to associate into and feel the good, enthusiastic feelings that come from having worked hard and performed well for the day.
- Before each visualization, do a relaxation exercise to get yourself relaxed.
- Basic visualization
- Visualize yourself over the trading day from start to end, watching yourself performing at the best, doing everything well.
- Improved visualization
- Enhance the emotional impact of your visualizations by including other senses, sights, colors, sounds, physical sensations, etc.
- Overwriting emotional scars of bad trading
- Visualize a Bad Picture, your state with all the bad emotions.
- Visualize a Good Picture, you being in your ideal state for trading.
- Start with the Bad Picture, visualize it gradually being replaced by the Good Picture.
- Repeat until the trigger for the Bad Picture, no longer triggers the Bad Picture.
- Establish a trigger to get into peak performance state
- Identify your idealized peak performance state, when you are in the ‘flow’
- Re-experience your peak performance state, imagine yourself standing in a peak performance circle.
- Visualize yourself stepping out of the circle to become your ‘normal you’, and stepping into the circle to become your ‘supercharged you’.
- Choose a trigger to get into your peak performance state. Keep practice using it until you can access your peak performance state whenever you desire.
- Spur your mind to take actions to achieve your goals
- Define a specific, measurable, attainable, time-specific (SMART) goal.
- Visualize yourself holding the proof of you having reached that goal, coupled with all the good feelings — your ‘compelling mental image’.
- Visualize and map out a timeline of your life, containing your past, present, and future moments.
- Float to the time when you’ve achieved your goal, feel it, then look back at all the actions you took to reach that goal, watch yourself doing all the actions that have led you step-by-step to achieve your goal.
- Come back to the present.