How to keep a Forex Trading Journal for self improvement
How to keep a Forex Trading Journal for self improvement
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I've recently been working on creating and refining a new edge. Journaling is an essential part of that process and it inspired me to make this post since some people might not see the importance of keeping one.
Journaling is one of the most important aspects of your trading.
It can be a chore, but keeping a trading journal is incredibly useful.
Because if you set one up and use it correctly, that's where you'll find patterns. Patterns in the markets, patterns in your trades, and patterns in your trading behaviour. You can use a journal find new edges. Or to refine your entries, exits, SLs, TPs, holding times, etc. Or to find and address any bad trading behaviours (eg. moving SLs when you shouldn't be, or skipping valid set ups out of fear). You get the idea - it's really handy.
What should you put in your journal?
As much as you can - without discouraging yourself from actually using it consistently. That's going to differ for everyone. Do some googling (or ask people here on reddit) to see what other people have found useful variables to track. There's also lots of templates available online to copy (eg. here or here). Keep in mind that different technical set ups will require different variables to track. A few that I think are very useful yet often overlooked include - maximum adverse excursion, maximum favourable excursion, tracking the performance (using R multiples) of a few alternative exit methods, and the name of the day of the week at entry.
So what should you do?
Step 1 - Think long and hard about the appropriate variables you think you should track - ones that could influence your trade performance. Step 2 - Update your journal regularly. I like to do it at the end of every trading day while the trades are still fresh in my mind. Find what works for you. Step 3 - Periodically go back and analyse your journal. You might find that your win rate drops significantly on Fridays and thus makes your Friday trades have a negative expectancy. You might find that having RSI divergence at your entry signal increases the expectancy of the trade by 13%. You might find that exiting at ATR significantly outperforms both exiting at your Bollinger bands or exiting at a 161.8% fib extension. You get the idea? Step 4 - Act on the information provided by your journal. Skip those Friday trades. Add RSI divergence to your entry requirements. Exit at ATR. Whatever.
Journaling is incredibly useful for backtesting, forward testing, and live trading. Your journal is your best friend. Use one.
Create a folder for trading screenshots. Take a screenshot of the chart every time you enter, exit or modify a trade. Annotate the screenshots in an image editor (eg. MS Paint) if you want. Find a naming convention that works. Here's an example from my folder. Sort this folder in numerical order and you'll have a chronological chart book of all your trades which can be useful for visually searching for patterns.
I use a paid program called Edgewonk as my journal. It's just a glorified excel document that makes the analysis easier. You can just use the filter feature in excel to see how variables (and combinations of variables) affect your trades. Here's an export of some of the things I track in it for one of my set ups.Notethisspreadsheetdoesn'tincludethetrackingofdifferentexitmethods,ortradescreenshots,oranyanalysis.
If you feel like sharing the variables you track in your trading journal, I'm sure people would like to read about them in the comments.
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