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Zach's Log
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Zach's Log

  #71 (permalink)
Newport, Maine
 
Trading Experience: Beginner
Platform: NinjaTrader 8
Favorite Futures: MES, MNQ
 
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Posts: 177 since Sep 2018
Thanks: 278 given, 397 received

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It was an excellent trading day and a great start to my 22nd birthday! Waking up this morning, I remembered where I left off mentally/intellectually with my trading: I had realized, first hand/by my own experience and through my own conclusion, the importance of my state of mind that would enable me to trade effectively. This is one of those things, one of those trading cliches that you hear all the time and kind of believe in, but it's something that in reality, takes the backseat for awhile (for me at least). I've read Trading In The Zone with Mark Douglas- it was a fantastic book- and I've watched a ton of trading webinars having to do with trading psychology in general. I understood what they were saying to me, I totally recognized that trading with fear, trading with no discipline, with no rules, will undoubtedly drain your account. But this knowledge doesn't necessarily deter the other side of a person who is full of contradictions, who harbors opposing beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, emotions, etc. It's obvious that this game requires some maturity, which is an incremental process- just like consistent trading.

Anyways, this funky DT was forming just as I connected live. I started analyzing relatively late; around 9:15 or so. Like the trade before last, I was in that state. I saw my pattern (qualified as a tier 2 trade), applied my special sauce, and that was it. I entered after the open some time and didn't have a care in the world. When price went against me, it was "whatever, stop me out". It wasn't a negative thing, it was pleasant, in a way. Given the lower volume, even soon after the open, I thought it was a good idea to get out earlier. So I did. It wasn't a move motivated by FOMO, maybe partially it was, only because it's so hard to totally separate emotion from logic in decision-making, but the way the exit was conducted wasn't out of panic, it was out of command. I watched as price went against me had I still been in the trade, and continued to watch as it turned back around and hit my profit target. What do I make of this? and am I fooling myself?

I felt totally in sync, I was calm and ready. I executed on time, I closed when I thought I should have. I think it would be in my best interest to assume, that even when I think I'm being as logical as I possibly could be, that there's residual emotions and habitual reactions that can pop up and interfere with that state. It's totally possible that my logical decision to get out early was secretly motivated by my old ways of doing things. As I type this, now I suspect that's really the case. There doesn't have to be strong emotional intensity in order to make the wrong decisions. I think that's it- so there's holes in that optimal zone where past detrimental behaviors and small emotional spikes can come through, which creates a new challenge: to fortify the zone. Make that attitude more easily accessible; make it regular, intense/strong, and consistent, with a lengthy duration. This means more meditation, and some semantic reinforcement as I'm trading that'll guide me in making the right decisions- which also means that I should be focusing on making the exit conditions for a tier 2 trade official, in a sense. Had I definitively established that I was going to get out where I got out, I wouldn't have delved too deep into this. To conclude:

- Meditate more frequently. Remember that state of mind and copy it.
- When acting on Tier 2 trades, definitively establish possible exit points while watching live price after entry.
Doing this will require quick-thinking and decision-making, and the point of establishing manual exits is to hold myself accountable to my discretionary logic. I don't want unfounded closes that could very well be influenced by emotions, and I don't want to doubt the credibility of my decisions- so, what I know would help me is making manual exits official- whether through solid mental acknowledgement, having it written down on paper, or whatever.

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Last edited by Zachary Standley; April 15th, 2019 at 03:13 PM. Reason: I wanted to emphasize the important things to myself and others
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  #72 (permalink)
Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal
 
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Happy belated birthday! Glad trading went well and hope you had a happy one.

~vmodus

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  #73 (permalink)
Newport, Maine
 
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It was a very boring day in the ES. When I checked price before the open, I noticed that my pattern wasn't there and I thought for sure that it wasn't going to develop for at least a little while, if it would (it didn't). I ended up intermittently checking price as I back-tested with music blaring in my headphones. I had a good time, and I ended up covering 60 trades and finally finished my 10 billionth back-test. To be honest, I'm not pleased with the results, and tomorrow after I trade I'm going to search better, more efficient ways to back-test than my current manual process. It takes too much time and there just must be a better way. If there isn't, I'll tough it out- but damn. Anyways, I'll also be looking to back-test other patterns because I have been in the land of the double top for over a month now and want to try testing something new. I love this pattern and I will continue to trade it in my discretionary trading (I'm still only trading double tops until I find another pattern with edge)- it's just going to be one piece of my puzzle, and for the sake of my own growth, there's no doubt that I need to look elsewhere. Oh yeah, I'm not even done optimizing this data so I am getting ahead of myself. Anyways, besides all that, I feel like free-writing:

An old co-worker of mine decided to trade some books with me. The books were psychological/self-help material, which I've had enough of and at this point, don't think highly of, but he told me that this book helped him quite a bit and I was curious about its content, because I did notice a positive change in the way he carried himself- funnily enough, he was more enthusiastic and he talked about his goals. Anyways, the book was cheesy, honestly, but a line that stuck with me after all of this time, is "How you do one thing is how you do everything." That quote blew me away, because there definitely is a lot of truth to it, with easily imaginable exceptions that don't necessarily negate the positive power or credibility of the quote. For example, there are people that are always late to events, and there seems to be, at most, an anecdotal correlation (IME) with that kind of person also being "messy"; like that same person would also have an inclination to not clean their room or house, and/or never clean their car out. This same person could be considered lazy, if he/she's not working their ass off at their day job. I don't refuse to acknowledge the possible and common variability, for example, some people may put more effort into cleaning their cars interior compared to their own bedroom for whatever reason. With the exceptions recognized, I still think stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, that they hold merit to a large enough of a degree for me to accept them if they aren't prejudiced/hateful, and I think there definitely are consistencies in a persons behavior, across the board.

So with this piece of knowledge, wouldn't it make sense to observe the way you do things; the frequency and intensity at which you clean your room (I mean you don't have to be a scientist about this kind of stuff), compared to your effort at work, compared to the way you research on how to become a consistent trader, etc. There really may be parallels between all of these things, so in my eyes, it would only make sense to become as mindful as possible and to be diligent, to improve every behavior- not frantically and neurotically but based on reason, patience, and while being self-forgiving, so that the baseline of your output for current and future endeavors becomes of higher quality, which naturally makes you a better person- and not just for yourself, but for other people.

I remember watching this Anton Kreil video when I first got into trading, and he stated that your personal life affects your trading life, and your trading life bleeds into your personal life. These two facets are inevitably linked (like everything else/or most things in life) which in a way connects and supports to the quote I'm writing about. Having traded live with a small account, I know how stressful it can be- because when I wasn't trading, I was worrying about losing money and trying to find ways to make the money that I lost, back. What Anton said is true in my experience, and in countless other peoples experiences as well: Truly separating these things doesn't seem possible, or realistic rather, because we are emotional creatures and define the world through mental associative processes. One memory or thought leads to another. For example, you think of the color yellow and the fruit you think of next is a ______. All of these thoughts, memories, associations, neuro-pathways all add up and form this mostly coherent structure, which in its function behaves out its consistent character/nature.

It's useful for me to recall this quote because it reminds me that I can always do better. I've imagined the consequences of effective and constant behavior optimization or intra-personal growth, and I always imagine the "end-product" being a figure like Jesus. I'm not a religious guy, but maybe our ancestors really were onto something here. Maybe "how you do one thing is how you do everything" is an idea that influenced the concept of "sin"; that there really are behaviors that detract from the health of a human being, and that the extremes of these sins are destructive so it would be best to keep these things at bay. I find the more that I mature, the more I agree with a lifestyle with less "sin" (or just counterproductive/negative behavior) because I value personal evolution that doesn't include overindulgence of unnecessary short-term pleasures. That's not to say that sex, food, and all other things or "temptations" like that are inherently bad and that I condemn them (and that I don't commit these "sins"- I do!), but they are of secondary value, behind this kind of stoic inner-peace. To approach everything in that light seems immensely promising and rewarding; to become above it all, in a sense. Anyways, I'm sure you get my point.

"How you do one thing is how you do everything."

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  #74 (permalink)
Newport, Maine
 
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I've got the usual story but with a bit of a twist. A double top was developing at the open, again. I had my Fib levels placed, everything was set to go (stop loss, entry, exit), except I set one absolute condition in order for me to enter: since it was the open and it was entirely likely for price to cross my entry line by open-volatility alone, I wanted to see price fail bearishly past my entry price, retreat bullishly to test higher highs, and if it regressed back down to my entry line, I would go short then. I came up with this condition because in my experience, if I'm going to get stopped out prematurely, it's at the open. So in planning and in hindsight, this condition is reasonable. But what ended up happening is, price bursted down (warning sign to not enter) then breezed past my entry line, and continued to the downside beautifully. It was very consistent in it's growth; traders held their trades, and more and more sellers kept piling in. Missing this opportunity was upsetting at the time and I tried to adapt; I tried to quickly come up with a good entry price/I was looking for a pull-back, but the reasonable part of me thought that I was chasing and entering at this point (half-way through the trend) was not a good idea. Had I acted on this impulse and entered short, yes, I would have made money, but I would've been going against my rules. IMO/IME, this kind of action at the open is a rarity, but if this sort of thing continues to happen day after day, maybe it would be best to trust the open until things change again.

Live notes:
Pre-open: "Wait for bearish stagnation to bullish fail"
Post-move: "Wasn't prepared for consistent price action to the downside right out of the open- seemed to good to be true! Haven't experienced this in a long time (missing an opportunity)."

There is another side to this that I must acknowledge. I realized the possibility mid-move that this trend could very well continue to the downside, and that I would be kicking myself if I didn't enter. Depending on my perspective, if I intellectually abandon all of my rules and conditions and operate from a more reactionary point of view, a P.O.V. that's purely concerned with momentum and willing to take risk based on experience/screen-time, I am kicking myself. This perspective is obviously even more discretionary-based. When I recognized the different views, I thought to myself, maybe I should experiment with a completely discretionary SIM account. This means I don't set a single rule, and that I trade momentum. I would let my discretionary trading experience take hold, and I would let myself take the risks I'm afraid to take in my more automated discretionary SIM account. I'd do whatever the f$$$ I want, with courage, and see how far I get.

So I'm thinking about doing that. I would continue to trade my more automated discretionary system and that would be a bigger priority, and I would switch between accounts depending on the markets conditions. Given that I can only trade double tops with my main discretionary account, the conflict of acting on trades between the two acc's would be minor. So yeah, I'm liking this idea.

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  #75 (permalink)
Newport, Maine
 
Trading Experience: Beginner
Platform: NinjaTrader 8
Favorite Futures: MES, MNQ
 
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Posts: 177 since Sep 2018
Thanks: 278 given, 397 received

You know, after missing that opportunity today and after reading some of your journals, I really contemplated the possibility that I'm over-analyzing and trying to account for every little thing in my trading, which is evident through the constant changes, the going back-and-forth, the speculation, etc. I've always had an inclination to structure everything, and to think about everything to explicitly understand; and the uncertainty that trying to become a successful trader brings definitely exacerbates this tendency. It could even be argued that I'm manifesting this tendency through my efforts of writing this very post, but I digress- this is how I figure things out- but I know this needs to be "checked and balanced" and should be second to trading performance. I had this realization earlier and am now just putting it into words, and I felt the need to just act instead of thinking and writing, so I created another SIM account that's purely discretionary.

Within this account, I'll be trading the way I want to trade, and I'll be allowed to trade any set-up. I'll be focusing on momentum and OrderFlow to enter trades and I'll exit when I think it's best. Every trade will vary, every decision will be contextual. The rules are 1. I'm not allowed to question any of my decisions. 2. I'm not allowed to intellectualize every trade I take. 3. I must act on promising opportunities that I'm scared to take. 4. JUST TRADE!

Like mentioned in the last post, I'll continue to fore-ward test my other automated discretionary double top strategy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(All of my pure discretion posts will be short)

Starting balance: $5,000.

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1 pt. stop loss. Anticipated a small move to the downside, jumped in short behind some bearish momentum. When price hesitated to continue, I got out with a small gain of $71.36. [trade was around 2pm]

Total PnL: $5,071.36
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tomorrow morning, I'll be analyzing the market through the lens of my double-top account initially, and if I see no double tops, I will switch over to my pure discretion account and trade.

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  #76 (permalink)
Newport, Maine
 
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Posts: 177 since Sep 2018
Thanks: 278 given, 397 received

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DT Trade 4-18-2019.mp4

I went to sleep earlier than usual last night, and I woke up early because of it. I noticed a double top was developing when I first checked the ES around 8:30, so I made sure to use my DT-based account and I constantly re-applied Fib levels as price changed to get the appropriate stop, entry and profit target. Because of what happened yesterday (double top at the open, smooth sailing to the downside without me), I established to myself that whenever price crosses my entry line, I'm going to enter- whether it's the open, or at 10:30am. I made this official because I realized today that in my back-test, that for this DT-Stop/Entry/Exit scehma, I did not make any exceptions for what time I would trade this pattern, so really I should have traded that opportunity I missed yesterday. That's ok though, because there is some discretion allowed for this account (Tier 2 trades- honestly, I forgot to classify yesterdays opportunity), and I'm still experimenting. With that being said, I'll do my best not to make that mistake again by giving into my fear of losing.

What ended up happening is: price did not copy what it did yesterday, instead of price plummeting right at the open, it went into a little bit of a range for a half hour and held up, then decided to go my way before 10am. It was very simple, I got in short at the 30% Fib level like I was supposed to, and I let the trade run before I closed the position a couple ticks before the 52.5% level (it's the median price of my entry and profit target price). I screen-recorded this trade so you could see, but the clip is very bland because there is absolutely no audio- it's just some screen-time of some action right before I entered, but most of the duration of the clip is me holding the trade. I've never uploaded a clip to my journal before, so I'm not sure if it'll show up like a thumbnail or not, but we'll see. Anyways- the minor regret that I have with this trade, is obviously that I didn't hold my position long enough. With that being said, I used to have to literally walk away from my computer so I wouldn't mess with my position, but with this trade, I sat here and watched price while being relatively calm. +$146.36 making my balance $10,200.62. I started with $10,000 on 3-27-2019: Is this the longest I've been break-even? (I consider $200+ breakeven tbh)

For me sitting and non-stop watching price instead of walking away from my PC, I consider it an achievement for me to be able to hold for a 3 point gain. I know, this might be somewhat pathetic, but this is my challenge and it is what it is. This video will serve as a reference point, and will remind me that I need to hold my trades even longer. I would be satisfied with incremental improvements, as long as I'm not engaging in any other counterproductive behaviors. Anyways, even though I could do better, today is a victory and I will take it.

I'm not done trading today. I'll continue to trade with my "Pure Discretion" account.

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  #77 (permalink)
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"..Here’s a personal example. When I know a trade is working according to plan and the market is doing as expected – even if the trade has not yet kicked in – I find that I feel a level of confidence where I do not feel compelled to look at the screen. I do not feel bothered by anything and am relaxed with a feeling of “knowing” that my position is a good one. However, if I am in a trade and it does not “feel” right, even if it has not moved against me, I find myself gazing intently at the screen, my breathing is a bit more shallow, and I hardly blink. Five minutes can pass by, and I will still be sitting in exactly the same position in my chair."

https://lindaraschke.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SFO_raschke_0803.pdf

Thank you, @mbondiett

This definitely applies to me, and I'll have to remember this as I'm trading. I'm still in the process of setting rules for my automated discretionary system, so sometimes I'll be put in a gray area, so to speak, where most of my conditions have been met, but there's something else that throws me off- like dealing with a conglomerate DT pattern, or if volume is intermittently too low, etc. That's when I make a trade that I don't feel that confidence that I usually feel with winning trades. Of course, this gray area will be diminished as I do some more back-testing and implement some solid rules. Anyways, I was just surfing the forum and thought this was a gem for me personally. I'll be posting more this weekend.

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  #78 (permalink)
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Posts: 177 since Sep 2018
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"Remember that every decision you make is compounded over time."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdJwHx-QofA

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  #79 (permalink)
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- Not that much trading talk -

A couple days ago, I decided to re-try something that I used to think that I'm terrible at: mathematics. I bought this book called "Mastering Technical Mathematics, Third Edition" by Stan Gibilisco and Norman Crowhurst. Honestly, I got this book probably around a year ago with the intentions of facing my fear of mathematics, but I always put it off because when it came down to it, I thought it would be too difficult to do after work and I had other things to do (not necessarily important things, either). So two days ago, I went through the table of contents, skipped over arithmetic, fractions, etc. and decided to restart algebra. I'm talking like 8th grade, early high school algebra. I vaguely remembered the steps to solving simultaneous equations as I rediscovered how to solve them. As I was learning how to do this, I realized it wasn't nearly as hard as I made it out to be in my mind all those years- and I know, I'm not even in the more difficult advanced material- but I have faith that I can figure out more advanced algebra out as well. It's a matter of approach, and in my case math requires patience, careful attention, deliberateness, self-forgiveness and breaks. (very similar to trading ey?) I had none of those qualities when I was younger, besides un-needed breaks.

Now that I'm a little bit older, now that I'm different in that I'm wiser, and have self awareness and can forgive myself for making mistakes (thanks trading) math feels like a fun game. Before I typed this up, I was doing algebra for 2 hours- not out of force, but out of entertainment and engagement. Solving these problems is almost addictive because the feeling of accomplishment after successfully working it all out is amazing. Doing math in a classroom, or doing it for homework because you have to, is much different than doing it at your own pace, being driven by your own curiosity, and with a desire to prove to yourself that you can actually do it. I'm not being evaluated, my math isn't being graded, and because of this I feel free, which is great for me- and that's not to suggest that I'm not checking my own answers and that I'm not grading myself in a way- because I am. But because of this freedom of expression, pace, just my attitude and current approach, I couldn't be happier with the small amount of progress that I've made psychologically, towards math. Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done, meaning there are skills still to be developed:

- I frequently caught myself jumping ahead, trying to figure out a problem on my own without understanding all of the steps I had to take to solve a problem.
- When I did understand the steps, I would sometimes forget a step and carry on, which would cause a butterfly effect and mess up my solution.

So even while being relatively patient compared to my younger self, I still have some impatience in me that's inspired from intellectual grandiosity combined with some monkey-action. As far as the second issue goes, that's a matter of poor deliberation and can be remedied by slowing myself down and paying closer attention, maybe even repeating/committing the steps in memory before solving.. With that being said, I realized the way I first approached trading was much like how I naturally/automatically approach math. This goes back to the "How you do one thing is how you do everything" post, that there's a consistency to people that bleeds into their separate behaviors and actions. The general message I get from superficially analyzing my initial approach to trading and my built-in approach to math is that I need to calm down, slow down, and pay attention. If I can further develop these general qualities, I'm sure I'll eventually be proficient in both areas.

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  #80 (permalink)
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I started off my morning in my purely discretionary account. The first thing I noticed when I opened up my charts, was that price had already formed an almost complete double top pattern- but given that the pattern was almost done, I could not apply my half automated, half discretionary tactics, so I couldn't use my main account. So yeah, I decided to take a shot at this price action with pure discretion because I thought it was definitely likely for price to "finish" the double top pattern. Here is a screenshot of price a minute or two into my first trade of the day:

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Price alternated back and forth over my entry line. I was being patient and stoic, more-so than usual. I had no problems with holding this trade because volume was low and slow, but then counter-evidence compounded against my position. Every time price would drop a new tick lower, it would regress back up a couple ticks or more. As time got closer to 9am with price continuously rejecting what I wanted to see, I felt less confident in the position, so I bought back for a tick of profit. It turns out that was the right thing to do in the end, and I only managed to do all of this because of how calm I was, and I kept in mind that I needed to be patient and that I needed to let the trade develop. I did great here.

Given that the first trade did not go in my favor, the automatic logical assumption that came to mind was that I need to go long if price continues to reject the 2899 area at and a little after the open. I considered that price could go into a range if there were no bullish-takers after the rejection, so I was feeling cautious. Anyways, what I wanted to happen, did happen, so I entered long:

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Unfortunately, I did not hold the position long enough and walked away with $67.72 for the purely discretionary account; leaving my account balance at $5,139.08. Of course, had I been more patient, I would've met my profit target, like always. Making the same mistake over and over again is frustrating, and the pain of repeating this mistake will inevitably push me in the right direction. Because of this experience, I've made a goal for tomorrow's trading: that if I end up using this purely discretionary account, I'm going to let price reach my profit target or I'll get stopped out. It's as simple as that. But..

The specific thing I want to be able to do in my trading is to maintain my analytical judgment after I enter a trade. I notice that when price goes in my favor a couple ticks or more after I enter, that I become hyper-vigilant and worried that the trade is going to turn against me. I become less calm, and more suspicious of price action. I don't want to have to always let myself get stopped out or to always meet my profit target; what I want is to consistently maintain that stoic-ness, so that I can always make reasonable decisions. If I could carry on my state of mind pre-trade to during-trade, that would be fantastic. Essentially, I want to perform as well as I did with my first trade, but after the open when things are more intense.

Conclusion: I need to be stoic while I'm in the tough trades. Specifically, I need to be calm and focus on making the right decisions after I choose to enter when things are faster, after the open. For the sake of re-introducing myself to holding trades, I'll go with the more hands-off approach tomorrow and set reasonable discretionary stop/entry/profit targets and not interfere at all. After I can prove to myself that I can sit there and not mess with a trade, I'll allow myself to discretionarily exit a position. But as of now, I need to build the habit of being calm and analytical as I'm in a trade with higher volume, and I think sitting there and watching price, and not interfering, will help me. This is a purely discretionary account, but if I don't correct this behavior with some restraints, I won't grow as a trader.

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