This article will mostly be about the mental state, but I will start with a physical example. I consider myself to be a fairly decent singer. When I was learning how to sing, I discovered that one of the hardest parts of good singing technique, as well as one of the most important ones, was to only use the muscles necessary to produce a good sound, while keeping the rest of the body as relaxed as possible. This not only prevents getting tired quickly, but actually results in better sound quality since other people can feel the extra muscular tension and it makes them less comfortable. The same idea holds true for many other skills, such as playing the piano or martial arts, to give a few. Learning how to stay relaxed and only exert as much effort as necessary to achieve the desired goal is one of the foundations of the proper technique in many areas of life.
When I first started in poker (back in 2004), I had never imagined that it would become my profession for more than 10 years. I had just gotten my Ph.D. in power electronics and was looking for jobs, but the economy was not the best, my area of research was too theoretical to be of use for most companies, also at that point I kind of sucked at job hunting and promoting myself, so the best I could find was a temporary adjunct professor position at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana which didn’t pay much. Since I had a student visa in the United States (in the stage of so-called optional practical training), I was not allowed to look for other employment. I definitely wanted to make more money though, so I was seeking legitimate opportunities. On most weekends, I’d go to local chess tournaments and usually win a few hundred dollars, which certainly helped but wasn’t enough.