Friday, October 10, 2008

The Value of the Time Out

In the words of Dick Vitale... "Get a T.O., Baby!!"

The value of the time out to the investor and investors plural (i.e., "the market") is hard to exaggerate.

Whether it's FDR's famous "Bank Holidays," or suspended trading, or simply going for a long walk when you're tempted to make an impulsive trade, the "time out" is a major weapon in an investor's fear-fighting aresenal.

Why? Because fear FORCES us to think short term. It's simply the way our brains are wired. There is a sound biological/evolutionary reason behind this reaction.

When you're out gathering firewood for the cave and lock eyes with a large male Smilodon (read Sabretooth Tiger) who has just emerged from the glade, your brain simply CANNOT LET you indulge in thoughts like "what to wear to Zog's birthday party?" or "should I redo the cave paintings for the harvest season (antelopes are so "early pleistocene")?"

The Sabretooth has gone the way of the Dodo, but the evolutionary function remains. Intense fear still draws our focus on the here and now. As well it should.

This is where the time out can help. The ablility to take a break and regain our bearings (to "step out of the box" as Crash Davis would say) gives our amydalas a chance to stop firing. When that happens we can engage other parts of our brain. That's when we can pull up and out of the tailspin of panic. It's neurobiology. See Rich's critically acclained tome for more information.
This is, of course, the eternal struggle for investors: To pull out of the short-term focus and think big picture.

When we do calm our brains and revisit the situation, it doesn't mean our outlook becomes rosy. It just means we've given our brains the ability to reintroduce reason to our thinking processes - and perhaps a chance to spot the fantastic opportunities such crises produce.

A few days off may be just what the doctor ordered.

In the meantime, good luck out there, everyone.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This strategy is called trend trading. It is something that I have developed over the past 2 years and it has been working great since I first started using it for my own investments.

Basically what you have to do is research into the past stock price of a company. It helps if you can get it into a nice chart that is easy to read. When looking at the chart, you need to try and identify an obvious pattern, or trend. Finding a trend gives you very valuable information that you can use to make a lot of money!
The time out is very important in trading because sometime it's become profitable for traders.
Need help with your online stock trades?