Eckhartd on losses

“The people who survive avoid snowball scenarios in which bad trades cause them to become emotionally destabilized and make more bad trades. They are also able to feel the pain of losing. If you don’t feel the pain of a loss, then you’re in the same position as those unfortunate people who have no pain sensors. If they leave their hand on a hot stove, it will burn off. There is no way to survive in the world without pain. Similarly, in the markets, if the losses don’t hurt, your financial survival is tenuous.”

Losses happen and they are part of our trading education. If you don’t learn anything out of them, it is money wasted. Always ask yourself: what did I learn form that loss? What could I do, not to repeat it again.

Learning from your own trades

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell

“Learning is not a spectator sport” – D. Blocher

Having a daily routine

Dr. Brett Steenbarger has an outstanding article on the importance of keeping a trading journal and how it should be used as a tool to improve your performance. I have been writing a trading journal for two months now and I find it exceptionally useful. I thought that I might share the basic structure of my journal. It might be helpful to someone or I might receive a constructive feedback on it.

My trading e-journal consists of 4 columns.

In the first one I describe the trade I took. For example I just write: “long 400 AMZN @70.23” or “short 200 AAPL @115”. I also put the approximate time I initiated the trade.

In the second column I answer myself: why did I take that trade. What made me do it. Did I follow my trading strategy for the day/week or I just got excited and emotionally initiated a position. For example, your entry might consist of the following: entered on a pullback, stock was within 15% of all time high, market was picking up; or whatever entry criteria you have; I mention what was my exit strategy, when I initiated the trade. It is essential to know what triggered a trade and where would exit if wrong. If done often and long enough, it will become a habit.

In the third column I deal with the problem: what happened with the trade. Did I close it the same day and why? Did I kept it overnight and why? Did I make a profit or I lost?

In the 4th column I ask myself what did I learn today/this week? What did I learn from my profitable trades? How could I repeat them or make them even more profitable? What did I learn from my losing trades? How to prevent them from happening again? I am very specific in my thoughts.

Have an open mind and be ready to react to any situation. Keep in mind that in trading the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.