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atcost's trading journal
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atcost's trading journal

  #1 (permalink)
Elite Member
Edmonton, Alberta
Futures Experience: Intermediate
Platform: SierraChart + Custom
Broker/Data: IB/iQFeed
Favorite Futures: ES
Posts: 6 since Sep 2012
Thanks: 3 given, 7 received

atcost's trading journal



After many years being a lurker on this site, Iíve decided to have a go at starting my own trading journal. I canít commit to following through on this journal until I get a feel for how it fits into my life. But I hope to continue with it if possible.

Iíve found the webinars and community on invaluable to my development as a trader. I hope that I can give back, even if it is in only a small measure, by giving an insight into my journey. As well as gaining support from the insight of other traders into my trading, behavior, learning, and development.

First of all, I want to give a huge thanks to @Big_Mike for creating this site. All of your work in creating and maintaining the site has been invaluable to the community.

I also want to thank some of the people who have greatly influenced my trading for the better. Al Brooks, for providing an anchor to start my learning journey into trading technicals. FuturesTrader71 and Linda Raschke for their excellent webinars and insights.

As well as many other webinar presenters and forum members who I havenít named here. Thank you.

My Background

I started trading 4 years ago, and have been trading full time since then. I would not call myself a confidently profitable trader. Iíve had periods of profitability in my trading, but Iíve also had significant losing periods. This 4 year period has been a time of intense learning and development, and especially the last 5 and a half months Iíve kicked my learning into overdrive.

Before trading I was a software engineer. The most important aspects of my background are being self aware and emotionally intelligent.

Iím very committed to practicing humility in order to better identify my blind spots and weaknesses, and then continually working to change myself in order to address those blind spots and weaknesses; to grow. I view myself as a perpetual student who is always more ignorant than he is wise, and who must always practice humility and accept the pain of personal failure. This, to me, is the gateway to learning and wisdom. Without accepting that I am the cause of my failures, and remaining humble, I believe that my ego will get in the way, exacerbate my blind spots, and limit my ability to learn.

Trading Background

I have traded sim and live in the past, and currently trade sim. I donít find that there is a huge emotional difference for me between sim and live (though there is some). I take them both very seriously.

Over the past 4 years Iíve traded ES, YM, CL, NG, GC, SPY, USO, and UCO.

Iíve tried many different strategiesóscalping, swinging, trailing stops, scaling in with the trend, scaling out with the trend (never tried scaling in against the trend). All of my trading is based off of market context, price action, support and resistance, and a deep understanding of fractal market behavior.

My consistent experience is that the deciding factor regarding my profitability wasnít the type of technical style I chose. Rather, it was whether I was able to be objective, to think clearly, and to adapt quickly, effectively, and objectively.

I like to frame it from the perspective of high performance. I think of myself as a high performance objectivity athlete. Everything that I do is informed by this framing.

I have a rigorous daily routine, mostly focused on high performance. I go to the gym, do as much cardio as I can, seriously practice meditation, and I spend a very significant amount of my in between moments and downtime during the day doing visualization for my high performance for the next trading day.

When I trade, I have a strict routine and structure to my overall trading. I work on (though Iím not always successful) prioritizing process over outcomes. This means that if I sit down to create my trade plan in the morning, I donít jump in and try to enter if I see the market spiking. Executing my process correctly takes precedence over whatever the current market conditions are.

I would rather execute my process correctly and miss the volatility for the day, than intercept the volatility while losing my process. My experience has consistently been that when I prioritize outcomes over process it sometimes works well in the short term, but is always disastrous in the long term.

My Current Trading

First a caveat: If youíre a beginning trader looking for a path forward, it is possible that reading my approach to trading may provide a minor trail head for you. Or it may not.

But what I can say with absolute certainty is that there is no easy or short path to becoming a trader. I could give you the most detailed technical explanation of how I trade, and it would be completely useless to you. My style and approach has been developed by 4 years of hard work, tenacity, failure, and learning.

Trading is incredibly challenging and has infinite depth. You cannot be successful without diving very deep into this depth yourself. There is no way to skip the pain and very significant failure you will experience as a beginning trader. It is part of the learning process.

Secondly a caveat: Iím constantly evolving, testing, and learning about my trading style, so what I describe today may not be true a month from now.

So, my current trading:

I currently trade only ES.

Because of outside influences on my schedule, I usually start trading approximately 11:45am EDT (11:45 EST in winter). In an ideal world I would probably want to start around 10:00am EDT. I usually trade for 1-2 hours, depending on the day.

All of my trades have between a 1.5 to 3 point profit target, and a 1 to 3 point stop.

I take a max of 4 trades on any particular day. I always stop after 2 losses.

I used to trade tick charts, but currently only trade time charts. I use 1, 15, 30, 60, 120, 240 minute and a daily chart. Use a 20 period EMA on all of my charts except for the 1 minute, where I use a 60 EMA. Iím currently testing / learning volume profile in my charts.

When I enter a trade, I minimize my trading windows, set a timer, and then check the trade every 5-10 minutes. When I check it I will sometimes adjust the stop, reset the timer, and then minimize my trading windows again.

Selecting entries is done based on a deep analysis of fractal market context, and then trying to predict the fractal behavior of the market through different time frames, in regards to the layers of context that are present at each layer.

The Path Forward

I wonít be trading for the next 2-3 weeks because of life circumstances. After I return I will spend some time working on process and spinning my high performance habits up again, and then Iíll re-engage with trading.

I do have some performance targets in mind, regarding my profits and losses over the next 8 months. But I donít like to focus on outcomes, so Iím going to work on keeping this journal focused on process.

Iíll probably do a test of exposing my PnL in this journal. But if I find that it distracts too much from learning and process, then Iíll remove it. That will be a future learning test.


So, this is my introduction. Hello.

Like I said I wonít be trading for the next 2-3 weeks, but after that I should be back at trading, and (if it fits well with the rest of my life) will start updating this journal with my daily trading.

Pleased to make your acquaintance. Best wishes and good luck connecting with others, providing support, and striving to make a dent in the universe.

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