Absolutely true, and I would much rather be on a meditation retreat than trading just about any day of the week. But in my experience not many people are going to start out with a commitment to a 10 day retreat. Once they discover the benefits of even very modest meditation, they may develop an interest in retreats.
And in my case it's not physically possible to sit through a rigid retreat - I just went through having to cancel one up at Borden - so I do it on my own, or if possible at more accommodating centers.
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First of all kudos for all the honesty and work you put into this journal! Its a great learning experience for you and everybody following it.
Just a food for thought. I am in no position to give any advice, but if this post gives a spark for some thoughts then it has served its purpose. While reading your journal I got the feeling that you really, really, really love stats (eg. the time you didn't execute a good trade cause you didn't want to mess up the streak of 0 MAE trades). You love plotting your results in excel graphs and playing around with that data. But I think concentrating on stats while trading can be a problem. The problem with this kind of thought process is that it takes your attention away from the particular trade you are executing right now. You have seen your pnl curve in the past and you know you will recover easily from whatever bad trade you might do. Concentrating on the pnl curve while trading gives a feeling that you are watching how the curve plays itself out (feeling of being on a passenger seat) and you know you have an edge so you stop caring about any particular trade as you know the curve is going to eventually move up no matter what. If you don't care about any particular trade, you are more prone to double down and take risks you otherwise would never think of (I think not caring about a certain trade at hand is only good in terms of not caring if particular trade is a win or loss, but traders often mix that thought up and think that any particular trade is just plain out not important).
I think that it is essential to forget about your equity curve and all the stats while trading. Let go of the past and future. The only mission should be to make one good trade and then make one good trade and then make one good trade and then... etc. The past and future doesn't matter, you just want the trade at hand to be the best it can be (strictly follow stop and target rules you have set). This idea keeps you in "here and now" and by definition it is impossible for you to have a huge drawdown or blowout you never saw coming (eg. the first day of combine). If you only execute one good trade after another, your pnl curve will take care of itself.
I don't know if that is the case for you at all, but I have certainly missed out on good trades in the past just because I am afraid to mess up my perfect trading day or keeping on to losers for the same reason. I have put some thought to it and thought it might be helpful.
Keep on grinding and making good trades
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I think Jyrgen hit it on the head. Enjoying reading this thread!!
If I can make an analogy to my profession: court reporting. I have colleagues that are completely OBSESSED with their translation rate on the Stenograph machine we use for our business. We have complex computer-aided translation software that helps us to create our transcripts as we write on it. That software records not only the speed that the speakers are talking, but the error rate in our translation on a percentage basis. Great Stenograph "writers" (me LOL; I've logged WELL over 10,000 hours so I'm a "master" at it at this point) on a good day (i.e., a decent speaker and no attorneys arguing at 300+ words a minute) will have a translation rate of around <= .30 % or so. With a difficult speaker (an Iranian proctologist, for example) and/or lots of arguments among the parties, that rate can rise in excess of => 1.00+ % untran rate.
Some of my colleagues completely obsess over this number and strive completely to keep that number as low as possible, often to their detriment, because in their effort to be PERFECT at their translation rate, the testimony completely gets away from them and then that higher untran rate is just a fait accompli as they try to "dig themselves out of that hole" -- instead of just "staying on top of the speaker" and catching up, which is when that untran rate starts to come down into the approprate range.
Sorry for rambling on this, but reading Jyrgen's post, it just hit a nerve with me and I completely can relate and analogize it to "overthinking" while trading instead of either the trade works, maximize the profit; or it's wrong, and just GET OUT and wait for the next one.
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I believe that consistently profitable price action scalping is one of the most difficult things to master. Not only do you have to develop a business plan and develop a traderís mindset (both required for long term profitability using any strategy, and both requiring an amount of difficult work the likes of which most people have never encountered), you have to learn to maintain focus, recognize key price action footprints developing, evaluate them in relation to the overall market context, make a variety of calculations quickly, then act without hesitation, several times each day, every day, day after day after day.
Someone once said, ďBeing disciplined in the past isnít good enough: on each and every trade you must be disciplined. Forever. Like a drunk in a program you can NEVER slip off the wagon.Ē
Like you, I learned this the very hard way, which was by repeating the same mistakes after periods of apparent mastery and hitting a black hole bottom of self-doubt.
Just as many ďhopelessĒ alcoholics discovered true power for the first time in their lives by admitting powerlessness and turning their lives over to a power greater than themselves (the standard entry into a 12-step program of recovery), gamblers can do the same.
If you trade without a business plan youíre a gambler. If you have a business plan for profitable trading but find yourself unable to execute it, youíre a gambler. Even if you can execute it for a period of time, then ďfall off the wagonĒ, youíre still a gambler, just as someone who goes for days, weeks or even months without a drink, then binges and ends up in trouble, is an alcoholic.
From your various blog posts it appears you have trading strategies that have positive expectancy. If your positive expectancy trading strategies are part of a business plan for profitable trading, then consider the mastery of your business plan to be the equivalent of "sobriety" and consider a 12-step program to be your key to developing the trader's mindset (your spiritual awakening, so to speak). Look up the 12 steps anywhere on line. Your first step will be to admit you are powerless over gambling, which is any trading-related act that runs counter to your business plan, thereby erasing the edge that elevates trading from simple gambling to professional speculation.
Based on my own experience following my "bottom", I recommend you choose a single instrument, a single strategy (one setup) and a trading account with only enough capital in it to trade very small size, then trade your plan for that strategy, focusing only on excellent execution.
Take time to set specific rules for everything you can think of that shouldnít be decided in the heat of battle, things like managing stops and targets; getting stopped out for a loss at what appears to be the high or low tick at that moment in time (my personal plan states that when that happens the trade is over, period, until the next setup develops); whether to trade setups that appear within N minutes of a major news release; price coming to or close to your order price and not getting a fill (my personal plan doesnít allow chasing an entry more than a tick or two); getting really bad slippage on a stop-initiated entry (my personal plan allows me to shout WTF! as long as no young children are in the vicinity); what to do if you make a mistake (click buy instead of sell) or break a rule (widen a stop loss, chase an entry, choke off a good trade by moving a stop loss to break even, etc).
Finally, instead of placing additional pressure on yourself with a public account of your trading, open up private communication with someone whoíd be willing to review each of your trading days and work through issues youíre having. Set up a grading system and with the help of this person, honestly evaluate your performance against the performance your plan would have produced.
Once you master a single setup to the point youíre able to follow your plan quite consistently despite the crazy thoughts and feelings that will regularly attempt to get in the way ("...that setup is too risky this time...Ē or "itís OK to trade my bias, this time it's different..." and so on), then you can begin to size up, to add another setup, or both.
None of this is easy, but the rewards of mastery are sufficient to make the hard work worthwhile if done right, without the personal ego in control.
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I think this is an incredibly insightful perspective, and I want to thank you for posting it.
Your post confirms basically what I see in myself--that when I compile stats, often I get lost in them, and am more concerned with "performance" in general instead of performance during the day and for any particular trade. That nice up-sloping equity curve is too pretty to mess up with a loss, isn't it? So, I will do stupid things in order to preserve that nice shape.
Thanks again, you have confirmed what I have known about myself deep down but hated to admit it to myself...!
Also really enjoyed reading this post, very interesting similarities!
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Also simple, but very insightful--thanks for putting it this way...
Perhaps a "single setup" is not required or the best idea for everyone (but certainly it may be for some). What's important here is not really the approach, but that guidelines are in place and are followed. For some, instead of a single setup, it may be simply to plan trade ideas for the open sufficiently ahead of time. And, once the trade idea is identified (which would likely include an actual price to buy/sell), go ahead and attach stops to define risk upfront, and then stick to those stops. If the market gets somewhat close to the price to buy/sell but the trader does not think it's going to make it but still finds the premise sound, then make the decision to accept a wider stop, or to pass on the idea. But the decision must be made ahead of time and honored, as jumping in and out, or making the decision to widen/move stops while in the trade, will almost certainly result in larger losses (I did some of this early Friday to my detriment, for example).
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Process goals today:
-Include plan for risk mgmt in every trade journal entry.
-Include big picture/goals/grattitude statement in every trade journal entry.
-Have good trade location today, not trades everywhere.
-Entries require some form of dt/db on my main trading tf to pull the trigger.
Pretty good day today. Could have been better, but I'm happy with most of the decisions I made today.
Most importantly, I'm happy with risk management. I'm pleased that I had a specific plan for managing each trade (on the downside at least). I'm happy with how I kept my larger goals in mind and was keenly aware of how risk management plays a vital part in that success all throughout the day.
I'm pleased with my bead on where the market was trying to go today. I'm happy with my flexibility such as the decision to re-enter the last trade because I knew it was time to press based on what orderflow was doing. I was weary that I would be a part of a lunch time stop hunt, but I didn't move my stop (per my strict risk mgmt). I got stopped, saw what I was looking for on the footprint, and re-entered. This is a much easier way of life than moving stops around and just hoping for things to go your way.
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I'll admit I am not very good at picking ideal trade locations, as far as the larger term picture. I realize that I'm quite good at seeing flow and trends so I can pick spots that way... but I think a big improvement in my trading will come from getting better trade location. I've added some new tools to help my try and do that with TPO and VP stuff.
My emphasis, though, will remain on my mental state above all else. A focus on what I'm trying to accomplish outside of any individual trade, and knowing that my job is to manage risk above everything else.
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