2023 was born recently and already the third month is about to get over! The financial year is about to come to an end. All of us, doubtless, made plans at the start of 2022, made them again at start of 2023 and we also decided so many things that will happen in FY 23.

Did some of those happen? Did any?

Understand that we decided last year- not just thought or hoped. Decided! Then, what went wrong that, most of us, stand today, with varying degrees of dismay and regret at the things that didn’t get done, despite an entire 365 days of our lives gone!

What is Decide? It is actually two words- De and Cide. The word De roughly means ‘away’ or ‘away from’ in Latin. Cide actually means ‘Cut or Kill’. Think of Fungicide (kill the germs), weedicide (kill the weeds) or even homicide (kill humans). So, when we ‘decide’, we are actually saying to ourselves that we are going to go away from (or cut off) something that is keeping us from achieving, from succeeding, from accomplishing etc. So, decision is good, right, because it should allow you to set off on a path that you want to achieve something.

But what happens then is that you lose Focus. Problem is that it is easy to decide but not so easy to focus. For one to focus, the first process is one of elimination. We need to get rid of many things that come in the way of achieving what we want. Many times, we are not even aware of what needs to be got rid of! It is, like, everyone wants to have a beautiful garden but no one is prepared to remove the weeds. If we don’t do the weeding regularly, the garden will get overgrown with them and beauty is furthest!

So, elimination. But there is more. To remove the unnecessary, we need to concentrate. So, focus is also all about concentration. This is a process, again, of keeping away disturbing elements while working on something. If elimination is a process, then concentration makes the process work.

But the process won’t work unless there is continuation. If concentration occurs only in short busts, then elimination will happen in fits and jerks and the garden will be good only in patches. Not the whole place. Therefore, continuous concentration is the real definition of focus. Only when we can bring that in, will we be able to succeed spectacularly.

Market rewards are disproportionate. While Luck does play a factor, wealth doesn’t get built just through luck. Beyond the short term, luck kind of peters out. In the long term, therefore, it is the focus (or in other words, continuous concentration) that brings in the results.

Do you have this as a habit formed? Everyone would like to answer ‘Yes’ to that question. But how to find out whether we really have this habit? All we have to do is to look at our past behaviour. Go back one year to Jan 2022 and think of the resolutions you made. How many of those did you achieve? Chances are, not even one. How many of those did you even attempt? Chances are, many. Take your trading records. Certainly you would have decided that 2022 should end as a profitable year. Did it? If it actually ended as a loss making year, then, you are in worse trouble than you realise! Was it any different from your trading experiences of say 2021 or 2020 etc.? Be honest while examining. If you cut corners, the only person you are fooling is yourself.

Your recent records will show clearly whether you have Focus as a habit. It needs to become one. Without that happening, there is no chance that you are ever going to succeed by your effort. Luck will have to favour you big time.

A story should illustrate.

There was a shoe shine guy outside the Goldman Sachs office in New York and every one from the office would get their shoes shined with him. He would do a good job so they would always tip him a bit extra. One day, the shoeshine guy asks the Goldman executive whether he could invest in some stocks. Surprise, the executive goes back to the office and tells others about the conversation. He was surprised when told that the shoeshine guys were one of the top clients of their bank with about 20 million in his account.

The executive immediately invited him to his plush office and asked him about his life story. The shoeshine guy narrated as to how he was a poor man who toiled and toiled at what he did, never spending a dime on anything other than necessary and how he saved every penny. Impressed, the executive asks, “But how did so much savings happen? For $20 million, you must have shined many million shoes?” With a blank look the shoeshine guy answered, “Oh that was left to me by my brother who is a drug dealer in Columbia”.

You were thinking, while reading, that this sounds like a story of hard work. But no. This is a story of luck. I mention it because not all of us have luck of that kind. So, we all really need to work hard and work smart for our success.

And when we do our work, focus, concentration and continuity are the key elements that ensure that the work gets done well.

If you are into chart reading, as I am, then seeing and studying a minimum of 100 charts per day would be required to hone chart reading into a skill. Mark Minervini, one of the legendary traders in Wall Street, puts that number closer to 500 per day! Lot of people do ‘look’ at charts. But are they “seeing” them or what’s in them? ‘Look’ becomes ‘See’ only when your mind gets attached to the looking. Study means a deliberate action- of internalising what you are seeing and making sense of it, fitting it into what you know already. This is the concentration part. And when you do it a few hundred times every day, then it becomes continuation.

So, look into your past. If you don’t find there what you are looking for today, chances are that you will never get it. Change yourself to suit to the current desire and then outcomes will begin to manifest in the way you desire.

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