It is with some trepidation that I begin this article. I'm one who has always been relatively private with my personal goals. At the Peak Performance 202 workshop in November, however, I felt compelled to put myself way out of my comfort zone. Why would anyone do that?
In one particular section of the workshop, Van asks everyone to make a bold promise, one that would really stretch them and for which they may have no basis for being able to achieve. His lesson is about leaving your comfort zone. We tend to stay in a comfort zone that allows us to live, well, comfortably—live a routine, familiar, and safe life.
Beyond the comfort zone is the edge. Edges are where everything happens. From a scientific standpoint, they are unique and can only be described with fractal geometry. They cause unique energies and forms to arise. What happens at edges is complex because by their very nature, they are dynamic and unstable. People who live on the edge tend to place themselves in "dangerous or unstable" situations that stretch them well past their former limitations.
However, being at the edge is uncomfortable; it’s unfamiliar and risky.
By staying within your comfort zone, you live in
a realm of the possible. Heading towards the edge, however, you can go for what’s impossible. By living out at your edge, you can create anything. People living at the edges are the most powerful agents for change for themselves and for the world.
To help people understand these concepts at Peak 202, Van has everyone do some exercises that put them outside their comfort zone. For some folks, these exercises can be disconcerting, while for others, they can be sheer fun and amusement. After a few of those in November, I was excited for something that would keep me out of my comfort zone for a long time. During the bold promise section of the course, I thought about what might hold me to the edge for 2010 after a big year in 2009.
2009 was a great year for me. I had one major life change: leaving a “comfort zone” employment situation where I had been for many years, then being partially unemployed for awhile, and finally joining a new company. Overall, that entire process was only mildly stressful. I attribute the ability to manage that much uncertainty and change easily to all of the self-work I have done in the past few years. I was largely calm and peaceful through the year as I knew my employment situation would work out well—however the particular circumstances turned out.
My trading in 2009 also went well after having not traded at all for quite awhile. Several years back, I was somewhere in the middle of the
Peak Performance Home Study Course when I wondered what I was doing trading. I had no business plan, no clear trading objectives, no trading systems, and really no idea about position sizing. I felt very lucky that I hadn’t blown up my account. I decided not to trade again at all until I had created the necessary plans and systems to trade in a professional manner. That intention took a few years to fulfill and eventually led me to complete the Super Trader Program. By late 2008, I had done the work, planned the business and felt ready to trade again.
Through 2009, I traded very actively using small position sizes while I developed various processes for my trading business. My primary objective for 2009 was to trade and not lose any money. I wanted to trade several systems and at least break even for the whole year. That was a new experience for me, and I felt great about achieving it.
By the fall of
last year, I wondered what kind of goals I might set for 2010. For some reason, the thought occurred at Peak 202 in November that my trading is like a marathon—a very long distance race. I have always enjoyed running for the sake of running, but I wouldn't train hard
without a race on my calendar. With any kind of upcoming race, I found the motivation to run longer, harder and more consistently. So my thought was, in preparation for many years of consistently profitable trading—my trading marathon, I would train for a half marathon of sorts this year. A half marathon is 13.1 miles long, so the idea came to me to shoot for a net trading result of 131R in 2010. Earning 131R is completely impossible from the comfort zone I built last year. I have to head out to the edge.
Also, I want to reach 131R for the year in about 10 hours a week. I am employed full-time. I have a very active and fulfilling family life. I figure I have about a half hour in the evenings and mornings each, and maybe five hours on the weekends that I can devote to trading and business development. That’s it.
So in the big promise exercise at Peak 202, I said I would make 131R in 10 hours a week and that I would report my progress to the Super Traders on a monthly basis. Van accepted that I go for the trading results but thought that the accountability part (to the STs) was within my comfort zone. He recommended that I write about my experiences for the newsletter readers. Wow! OK? OK. That’s definitely edge territory for me. Does the thought of risking failure so publicly strike abject fear into me? No, but I do have a good bit of trepidation for sure. (Van also suggested that I be willing to feel the feelings, so I’m feeling them writing this article. Yes, uncomfortable.)
Regardless, as the year goes by, I will share with you my progress, observations, and lessons learned. Together, we’ll see how (or even if) it’s possible to make 131R in a year in about 10 hours a week. This Project Marathon will be a case study of Tharp-Think applied. Hmmm, I’ve got work to do. Until next month, good luck and take care.
About R.J. Hixson:
R.J. Hixson is a devoted husband and active father. He
started trading again recently after completing Van
Tharp’s Super Trader program and made a full recovery
from his previous trading habits. He is in charge of research and development at the Van Tharp Institute. In his spare time . . . wait a minute, he has no spare time. LOL