Article When Trading Journals Don?t Work

T2W Bot

Staff member
1,500 116
One of the most common pieces of advice trading mentors give to their students is the keeping of a trading journal.  By documenting your trading, the common wisdom holds, you can learn what you?re doing right and wrong and speed your learning curve.  I happen to be quite a fan of trading journals; indeed, I made journals a mandatory part of the training program at a Chicago-based proprietary trading firm.  All too many times, however, I found that the journals did not accomplish their purpose.  They became rote exercises that did not get to the heart of either trading problems or solutions.  So I thought in this article I?d outline the five most frequent shortcomings with journals and how these can be addressed.

The journal lacks specifics.  Many times the journal becomes an outlet for the trader, a way of venting.  While there is nothing wrong with venting per se, it is hard to see how *simply* venting in a journal can improve performance.  A common entry might state, ?I...

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JumpOff

1
702 14
The Author states, "Keeping a journal *should* be painful at times, but it should also bring out the best in you."

How true. The stinkiest days contain the biggest mistakes. What were they, why did they happen, how can they be avoided in the future?

He also states, "Your goal should be to replicate successful trading patterns, not simply analyze problematic ones. " Which is why I think journaling is so hard for beginners - everything we do is wrong, so how do you replicate a successful trading pattern if you haven't had one yet? :-0

Great Article. The Author has many other archived articles available for free at his website:
http://www.brettsteenbarger.com/articles.htm

JO
 

bracke

Experienced member
1,286 12
A thought provoking article.

I look forward to the 'how to do it' articles.

Regards

bracke
 

TraderPattern

Well-known member
339 7
Very interesting article. Thanks Brett.
 

RUDEBOY

Experienced member
1,157 6
Journals are not a bad thing, and i keep records myself not just account statements. But i notice i write a lot less in them these days. There's only so many mistakes you can keep making....after that it's back to the drawing board which ever way you look at it. RUDEBOY.
 

steenbab

Junior member
13 2
RUDEBOY said:
Journals are not a bad thing, and i keep records myself not just account statements. But i notice i write a lot less in them these days. There's only so many mistakes you can keep making....after that it's back to the drawing board which ever way you look at it. RUDEBOY.

Hi,

I find this is a common dilemma with traders. I hope to cover this in my next Trade2Win article, but for now just let me say that journals need not solely consist of written entries. I am currently using a program called Snag-It, which takes very nice screen shots of charts in real time that I can review at the end of the day. It even will take simple videos of my screen, so that I can review the day unfolding--a great learning device. (A program by the same manufacturer, Camtasia, does a very professional job of taking videos of desktop displays, which has tremendous educational value, as you build a library of different markets/market scenarios).

I also find the journals helpful in reviewing good trades as well as the mistakes. Reviewing superior trading behaviors helps turn them into habits!

Brett Steenbarger
 
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JillyB

Established member
791 38
steenbab said:
Hi,

I find this is a common dilemma with traders. I hope to cover this in my next Trade2Win article, but for now just let me say that journals need not solely consist of written entries. I am currently using a program called Snag-It, which takes very nice screen shots of charts in real time that I can review at the end of the day. It even will take simple videos of my screen, so that I can review the day unfolding--a great learning device. (A program by the same manufacturer, Camtasia, does a very professional job of taking videos of desktop displays, which has tremendous educational value, as you build a library of different markets/market scenarios).

I also find the journals helpful in reviewing good trades as well as the mistakes. Reviewing superior trading behaviors helps turn them into habits!

Brett Steenbarger

Hi Brett

Welcome to T2W, I hope you will post more as well, there are a lot of discussions going on - as you are probably aware.

Great article too. Like many I find a journal/notebook invaluable. I started one when I began trading for real and have kept it ever since. Even if it is just entry/exit points, I mark them down, though often it covers the reason for entering the trade and possible exit points too, which I put a big red tick against if they get hit.

It's also been invaluable for making notes in - and although I'm onto my second 'little pink book' (pink - it's a girlie thing!) I still refer back to the first one on many occasions.

T2W also has a journal section which is great too, as it focuses you mind knowing that everyone can read what you've put and/or see the trades as they happen.
 

Posativnrg

Newbie
1 0
Another decent free daily journal is idailydiary http://www.splinterware.com/products/idailydiary.htm. You can import daily charts and write commentary etc. You can insert tabs for each day to seperate setups, results, thoughts, etc. I notate, mark trades, etc. on a chart in a paint program and import it into idailydiary.

Posativnrg
 

steenbab

Junior member
13 2
Thanks, Jill and Posativnrg, for the helpful suggestions re: online journals. A nice feature of an online journal is that it isn't too difficult to index its contents, allowing you to jump through entries to follow various themes, review progress, etc. One example: I had new traders categorize markets as bull, bear, or range-bound days in their journals. We then reviewed journal themes specific to each of those market types. Very interesting to see unique themes arise in specific markets.

Brett
 

Rhody Trader

Senior member
2,620 266
Brett,

The one drawback I see with on-line journals is that their "public" nature can lead a trader to not be quite as honest as would be the case with a private journal. For people who worry about their public perception, this can become a very real problem, can it not? It goes toward the idea of an unwillingness to admit being wrong, especially in front of others.
 

JillyB

Established member
791 38
Rhody Trader said:
Brett,

The one drawback I see with on-line journals is that their "public" nature can lead a trader to not be quite as honest as would be the case with a private journal. For people who worry about their public perception, this can become a very real problem, can it not? It goes toward the idea of an unwillingness to admit being wrong, especially in front of others.

True John, but it can also help overcome a fear of being wrong as well. The step from paper trading to real trading for a novice is a huge one and a journal such as T2W has can help overcome the fear of trading for real, by being a stepping stone. I feel it can force you to be more honest in a 'public' journal both with yourself and those that read it.

What I'm trying to say is that in my private journal I doubted whether my system would work for real. The journal is the stepping stone - I post live (as much as I can) I trade £1 per point and I gain confidence. So I think a 'public' journal has its place.
 

RUDEBOY

Experienced member
1,157 6
The psychology behind a public journal? Is this self trickery? Or self proposed? I don't want to hurt anybodies feelings.....but there is no need for it! The purpose that you think it is for is not the real reason, honestly. RUDEBOY.
 
 
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