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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Bulkowski's Imagery In Trading

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Busted
Patterns
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Market
Industrials (^DJI):
Transports (^DJT):
Utilities (^DJU):
Nasdaq (^IXIC):
S&P500 (^GSPC):
As of 05/22/2017
20,895 89.99 0.4%
8,965 85.46 1.0%
709 5.94 0.8%
6,134 49.92 0.8%
2,394 12.29 0.5%
YTD
5.7%
-0.9%
7.5%
13.9%
6.9%
Tom's Targets    Overview: 05/15/2017
21,400 or 20,450 by 06/01/2017
9,500 or 8,700 by 06/01/2017
685 or 720 by 06/01/2017
6,350 or 6,000 by 06/01/2017
2,330 or 2,450 by 06/01/2017

Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

 

If you have watched the film Flatliners, you probably recall a scene where Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon are sitting outside a beer joint on the back of their vehicle just after Sutherland dies and recovers. Sutherland says something like, "You can hear the hum of the street lights." He is picking out one sound from the maze of noises around him. You can do the same with sounds and then visualize what is making those sounds.

A mother might close her eyes upon hearing her newborn giggle, and picture the baby with a wide smile on his face. The dad might imagine that the child is grasping his finger with tiny hands for the first time, hanging on.

You can think of positive images for your trading, helping bad thoughts fade and bringing alive those which picture a successful trade. In this way, you can zero in on happy thoughts and push aside those thoughts and images of price dropping off a cliff or another bill coming due in the mail.

Here's how to use imagery in your trading.

A picture of a bearded iris.

Problem? What Problem?

  • Recognize when the problem occurs. When contemplating a trade, you may find thoughts of arriving late to the trade, that price has already moved, so you hesitate. Another thought may come that if you buy this now, it will turn into a losing trade. Still other thoughts admonish you for entering a trade too late, exiting too early, or buying the silly thing in the first place.

    If you find these thoughts recurring as you contemplate a trade, or after you enter or exit a trade, then you have discovered the trigger that causes these thoughts to occur.

    If you know when these thoughts will likely occur, you can prepare yourself. Don't let negative thoughts color your trading perspective.

    Focus on an image of a winning trade, on a positive outcome and negative thoughts and images will fade into the background. Positive messages will change your attitude about trading and those negative thoughts and images will recede and eventually fade away entirely.

    When I find myself having the same argument in my head over and over, I just switch to a scene I described in the epilogue of my Getting Started in Chart Patterns, Second EditionGetting Started in Chart Patterns, Second Edition book. book (first edition only), that of a gazebo perched atop a hill overlooking a "rolling carpet of pines etched between hills." The image short circuits the argument and the recurring thought stops. And if it comes again, I just imagine sitting back in the gazebo and taking another sip of my cold drink as I watch a hawk circling overhead, flying carefree on thermals carrying him higher. I can become that bird and look down on tranquility below.

    You can do the same thing with your trading. When a negative thought arrives, replace it with an image of what you want to happen. See price moving in the direction you seek, candle by candle, reaching for your target.

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    Help! I'm Making Too Much Money!

  • Focus not on the money but on technique. If you focus on how much money you have made then that could cause you to exit trades before you should. I had this problem. As soon as I closed in on $2,000 profit, I convinced myself that it was time to exit, that I had made enough money. Sometimes I was right and sometimes not, but I found that such thoughts limited my income. I was too focused on how much money I was making instead of executing trades properly.

    Instead, I focus on technique. When is the right time to exit? At what price? Where is support and where is resistance? Those are the questions I focus on now. The answers to those questions determine how I trade, not on how much money I earn. Whether I make $2,000 or $20,000 on a trade, it does not matter as long as I traded it well.

  • Imagine success. What will success in trading do for you? Will it buy that new boat you have had your eye on? Perhaps it is time to move into a larger place, one with a helicopter pad so you can commute in style. If you trade properly, you can afford it.

    These types of images and those that represent success to you should replace concerns about what other traders think of you. They are not thinking about you. They do not care if your current trade is a winner or a loser. They are just concerned with making the next house payment because they are in debt up to their eyeballs. Focus not on what a losing trade will do to your self esteem, but on exiting the trade at the proper time. Then dream of what to do with those riches.

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Closing Position

From the myriad images and thoughts swirling around inside your head, visualize how you want the trade to proceed. Visualize success at the end of the trade. That will give you the confidence to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. By selecting a positive image of success, the other negative thoughts fade into the background. Like Sutherland did with the street lights, you do with your thoughts. Pick out the good ones and let the bad ones fade.

If you are trading a chart pattern, then visualize it completing and price breaking out in the direction you expect. Then imagine yourself jumping into the trade, watching price move in your favor and exiting the trade just before price reverses.

Focus not on how much money you are making or losing but on technique. If you are trading well, then the money will tumble in.

If you practice using images to visualize where you want your trades to go, over time (at least 3 weeks for the subconscious to believe what you are telling it), it will help you become a better trader, one that can push past fears, past the boundary of your comfort zone and into the realm of greater wealth.

This article is based on an idea from Kiev's November 1994 article titled, "Using Visual Imagery in Trading," as published in Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities magazine.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. God is an atheist.