The optimal state for trading – Flow?

“The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile” Csikszentmihalyi

Can you think of a moment in life where you lost yourself in the moment, where nothing else mattered beyond the task you were carrying out, where your sense of time was distorted and you demonstrated intense concentration?

This is what is known as the flow state, and many high performers have described this as being their optimal performance state.  Csikszentmihalyi states that there are 8 elements to flow, as follows:

  • Clarity of goals and immediate feedback
  • High level of concentration on a limited field
  • Balance between skills and challenge
  • Feeling of control
  • Effortlessness
  • Altered perception of time
  • Experience is intrinsically rewarding
  • Actions and awareness are merged

It is also stated that those with an autotelic personality (internally driven) tend to experience flow states more than others.  So what is an autotelic person?

“An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power or fame because so much of what he or she does is already rewarding.  Because such persons experience flow in work, family life, when interacting with people, when eating, even when alone with nothing to do, they depend less on external rewards that keep others motivated to go on with a life full of routines.  They are more autonomous and independent because they cannot be as easily manipulated with threats or rewards from the outside.  At the same time, they are more involved with everything around them because they are fully immersed in the current of life.”  Csikszentmihalyi

Autotelic mindset:

  • Bring your full attention to where you are and what you’re doing
  • Find out what you love – and do it

Now how do we apply this to trading and perhaps life in general, because I’m sure many of us would love to tap into that flow state.

  1. Don’t allow anything to disrupt the experience – Flow requires focused attention
  2. Balance perceived challenges and skill – We want to be on the very edge of our abilities, but not beyond.  If you have a high degree of skill, a challenging goal will suffice.

So there you go, a brief insight into the world of flow.  Let us know if you have found that helpful – and more importantly if it has helped you enter the flow state more frequently.

Photo by Maksym Tymchyk on Unsplash

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