Most traders, from beginners to professionals, know that keeping a trading journal is an important aspect of trading as a serious endeavor or career. Keeping a trading journal however takes effort and is all too easy to just brush aside and ignore while focusing on other areas in your trading. In this list I offer some key reasons I use to remind myself why maintaining a trading journal is worth the effort.
- Accountability – when you keep track of your trades diligently, noting what reasons you had for taking them and how they turned out helps keep you accountable to the trades you’re taking as well as how you’re managing them.
- A finger on performance – understanding how your methodology performs and monitoring its expectancy, win rates, and other parameters such as average winners and losers size can help tell you when things are either working really well and you should press your edge or when markets conditioned changed and you need to scale down or re-evaluate your edge.
- Research tool – A trading journal can also be an excellent research tool that helps you improve your edge. This can be achieved in several ways, one of them is when you tag your trades and keep track of different variables like market sentiment, candles formations, your own state of mind, or any other variable you can then look for relationships between your performance and those variables. There are many times where I’ve discovered that some trades should be skipped and others traded with larger size as a result of researching my trading journal.
- Self coaching – Aside from analyzing performance and quantitative data you may also want to keep track of your overall development progress as a trader, what habits are you trying to change, what goals are you setting for yourself and how are you doing in terms of achieving them. Without monitoring and tracking it becomes difficult to keep focus on those goals and all too easy to slip into bad habits again.
- Keeping things in perspective – We’ve all been there, you’re having a really good week or a really bad week, the impact of this type of unusual performance can play havoc on our heads. It is human nature to put more weight on recent events than on statistics of the past 6 months or even years. A trading journal can help re-align our thoughts, expectations and overall mental state by showing us visually how the last bit of performance compares to our longer term track record.
This list of points isn’t revolutionary, but revisiting it helps remind me of why I’m keeping a trading log and how it helped me improve my trading over the years. Hopefully others will find some of these points useful as well.