Every one of you has climbed higher on a proverbial mountain this year built from your accomplishments and learnings. Sure, you’ve had your share of licks and bruises from mistakes, failures, or setbacks, and some of you may feel like you haven’t climbed as high as you’ve wanted to yet. That’s ok. Regardless of where you are, at the end of the year it’s important to take a step back and look at your mountain.
One reason it’s important to look at your mountain of accomplishments is to avoid a common problem I discussed in The Mental Game of Trading: uncertainty breeds fear and, in many cases, exists when you fail to recognize your accomplishments and skills.
In the book, I asked you to imagine you’re standing on top of a mountain that’s so high you’re above the clouds. Everything below you is obscured, so it seems like you’re actually standing on a cloud and at any minute you could slip through the cloud and free-fall back to earth. But just then the cloud dissipates entirely, and you see the huge mountain beneath you. You are, in fact, on solid ground.
The mountain is the base of knowledge and experience that you’ve acquired as a trader or poker player. When you fail to recognize your accomplishments or don’t see the skills you’ve acquired, you feel unstable when you shouldn’t.
Becoming more proficient at seeing your competencies can provide a base of certainty that cuts through the inherent uncertainty in trading and poker, reducing your propensity to experience fear and stabilizing confidence. You’re not inventing or making up skills that aren’t there. You’re simply correcting the flaw in your perspective that’s caused you to be unaware of them.
The end of the year is a great time to take stock and review your competencies and accomplishments.
Another reason taking stock of your mountain is important is it helps to guide and shape your goal-setting for next year (more on goals in January).
Bill Gates once famously said “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Why is that? Part of the problem is many of us don’t really take the time to evaluate what we did accomplish in a year. In an institutional environment this is standard. But working for yourself, you’ve got to put in time and effort to make it happen.
First thing you want to look at is, compared with your goals at the start of the year, how good were you at setting goals and accomplishing them?
I realize this is tough in poker and trading, when you don’t have full control over your results in the short-term. So, conceivably, you could have an amazing year, making way more money than you could have imagined, but underperformed relative to your skills and the quality of execution. Or the flip side could be true. You had poorer results than last year despite feeling like you performed at a higher level this year.
As many of you have heard me say before, stability in your confidence is really important. And having an accurate sense of your capabilities going into next year is going to help you be successful at making strides in the areas that you have full control of, as well as in outlining what you intend to achieve.
Here’s a straightforward task to help you take stock of this year:
- Look at your goals from the start of the year
- Write out what you accomplished (include accomplishments that may not have been on original goal list)
- If there were differences between your goals and your results, write out why
Complete this task to understand gaps and get ready for goal-setting for 2022. It’s easier to know what’s next when you have a clearer idea of what you’ve done.
Lastly, celebrate your wins. If you stop to look at how far you have come, it creates more confidence that you can keep going higher next year.