Real-time traders live from moment to moment.
Such is the pull of a live data feed, it's often a challenge to see the big picture. But this you must do if
you want to survive and prosper. .
Visualizing the current trade as one of a series helps to maintain your discipline and lower your
But there's one trading tool that will really improve your performance more than anything else.
A trader's diary.
Don't be scared off by the sentimental connotations of keeping a diary. "Dear Diary... today I... " this is
Your own trading diary can be computer-based - via a word-processing document or a simple text file
saved to your desktop. Or you may find a traditional pen and paper version more effective.
(There is something about writing on paper that makes it more personal. Probably the way the hand
and eye coordinate with the brain. Plus you've probably got enough applications running when you're
trading in real-time!)
Another option is to a personal tape recorder. Good if you prefer speaking to writing.
Whatever format you use... what will you actually write (or say)?
Don't worry about grammar. Make one-word notes of what's happening. Sure, you can note down the
facts and figures - stock code, time and date, position size, entry price, stop loss, exit price.
But also - and more importantly - record your thoughts.
If you were hesitant about getting in the trade, say so. If you're terrified now you're in (the dreaded
"Trader's Remorse") then make a note of it.
When you exit, say why. Stopped out? Took profits? Why? How did you feel before the exit? How
do you feel now, afterwards?
This only takes a few seconds to record this ongoing commentary of your own trading. But the
information you get can be priceless. Here's why:
At the end of each week, preferably at the weekend when the markets are closed, review the week's
You can guarantee that you'll see a pattern in your behavior. There is probably something you are
doing consistently that's causing negative results.
And once you've identified the problem, the solution usually becomes obvious.
Do this exercise every week, and also every month to get a longer term perspective.
Only you can do this for yourself. Nobody looks after your own affairs better than you do.
You don't need the latest million dollar trading system to be successful in this business.
Look within. You may be amazed with the results.