Automaticity

It’s an interesting word but not many know it’s full meaning. It isn’t about becoming an automaton.

The Wikepedia definition of automaticity is, “The ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice.

AUTOMATICITY (John Bargh, 1994)By reading this post you’re doing ‘automaticity’. You no longer see individual letters. You no longer pronounce each syllable with any effort – like when you were learning to read. All that is basic common sense you might think. And that’s just the point of automaticity – it is about knowing a thing so well that it becomes ‘basic’ – just like common sense.

Why is this important to new traders? We need to develop habits, routines and robust analytical procedures that work to our advantage. That means a lot of hard work in the initial stages. So like in harmonic trading, there should be a time when you no longer need to think much whether there is a potential Gartley pattern in a chart. You spot it as eyes rove over the chaos of trading charts quite automatically – that’s where you want to be. You may then double check the setup but the initial spotting of the pattern would happen ‘automatically’. How would this come about? Your brain would be so fine-tuned with criteria that you no longer have to work it out. It happens on the fly. It leaps out of the chart into your eyes.

Look, I’m touch typing this stuff at about 50 wpm. I didn’t have to think where the letters are on the keyboard. In fact if I begin to think about where the letters on the keyboard are, I begin to slow down my rate of typing. The keys are ‘in my fingers’ – I don’t have to think about it. This is ‘automaticity’ at work.

The main reason why many YouTube training videos appear to be so confusing to new traders is largely because the stuff that expert traders are throwing out seems so natural to them. They therefore move very quickly relative to a noob who is struggling to spot a Fibonacci 0.618 in all that’s being shown. It must have taken me about 100 tries at drawing Fibonacci’s before I could do it well. These days I hardly think about it when I’m drawing a Fib – I just know what to do and it comes automatically. Through my experience I can now spot approximate 0.618 and 0.886 retracements with more ease than 1 year ago. On candlesticks I can easily spot dojis, hammers, long candle wicks and understand what they mean.  Support and resistance levels very quickly meet my eye. These are small but important steps in my learning – but it wasn’t easy 1 year ago.

These days I’m still struggling with spotting harmonic patterns. I’ve started with the simplest which is the ABCD pattern and have moved into Gartleys. It’s definitely getting better all this. So, it’ll be interesting how much more I’d ‘see’ in another year’s time. There will come a time, I expect, when automaticity kicks in – and I see many things happening all at once through all the chaos. This is like an expert chess player seeing situations and setups quite efficiently which a novice would overlook. Why do noob chess players get slaughtered by expert players? It’s simply because experts see so much more happening and can plan more efficiently their attack.

Of course, whilst automaticity is good in certain respects, it can be bad if blind spots are missed because of too much automatic processing.  I’ll have to watch out for that one.

The message of encouragement therefore for all new traders is to work hard to get automaticity up and running. Then comes the next stages of creativity and finding your own blind spots.

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