How to Keep a Trading Journal

The Easiest Way to Keep a Trading Journal – A Great Trading Tool. Trading Journals are critical to all traders development. Learn how to keep one properly and easily with integral theory.

Keeping a trading journal is a critical aspect of becoming a good trader.  You’ll never know what you did wrong unless you can objectively witness the prior trades you took; good or bad.  Then the next question becomes well once I’ve witnessed my profitable trade or error how I avoid it again?  We’ll chat about that in another blog called “How to practice trading.”

There are so many ways, tools, and programs that will help you keep a journal but if you are like me none of them really stuck or worked well for my day trading style.  After all, who has time to spill all their emotions, intuitions, and thoughts while trading?! Not to mention market conditions, entry & exit prices and who else knows what information may be relevant to your style.  To me text is dead in this case. It’s too slow and you have more important things going on than talking about your stupid feelings. 🙂

We are going to draw on integral theory’s quadrants to establish a methodology that will allow us to focus on all aspects of the trade.  You can do this with pictures, text or video.

How to create a trading journal.

Upper left Quadrant: What were the intra-day fundamentals. Essentially why were you looking at this stock? Did you get an alert? Did you see if pop up because of a signal from trade idea? Did your algo say, “buy here.”  Did they release earnings? Did they get an upgrade?   These are some examples of the interior aspect of a trade.  Think “why am I trading this stock.”

Upper Right Quadrant:  Essentially we are talking about Technical analysis.  Did it come into a supply zone? Did it make a head & shoulders top? Did it have a candle stick pattern you liked? Objectively, what was this stock doing? Chopping? Trending? etc

Lower Left Quadrant: This is where it can get tricky this quadrant is about shared meaning/value. An example of this is language.  I interpret this now as the sentiment of the stock.  What do WE, as a collective, believe about this stock? What do WE as a bull (or bear) believe about this stock?

Lower Right Quadrant:  Intersubjective.  Economic systems fall into this category, so would a mechanical failure on the stock exchange.  It can also be interpreted as: What was the market doing? How did the SPY or Oil or whatever market gauge you like to use, perform with your stock? What artifacts were left behind? Do you see a stream of red candles of green?

This would Look like the following:  You can either download a program like Greenshot to capture pictures from your screen and edit them (this is a free version of snagit) or write in a journal when you want. Displaying the picture will give you the best idea of how to review your trades using integral theory and create the trading journal that will hopefully make you a better trader.

Remember you want a journal that will cover all aspects of why you did what you did without taking up loads of your time.  You need the best information and I believe integral theory helps focus us to pull only relavent information.

As I continue my study of Integral theory by Ken Wilber my understanding of it changes.    This is, according to my understanding, is the first attempt to understand finance in an integral frame work.  This is Integral applications In finance.

Integral Theory – States

Integral theory believes we enter different states of awareness, of consciousness, etc throughout any given day.   Have you ever been unable to break an angry mood? Your state was angry.  Have you ever been highly irrational for a long time? Your state was irrational.  Have you ever fell in love & were unable to fall out of it for a long time? Your state was in love.

States greatly effect the way we trade ever single day.  Author Denise Shull’s book Market Mind Games is essentially a book about emotional / psychology states.  Her book can be summarized as follows.  Be aware of your emotional context (state) it will greatly effect your trading decisions.  She’s correct.

This is a very basic overview of how states can effect you during trading.  Denise suggests writing down your emotional state as your are trading such as “I”m afraid to take this trade” or “If I lose on this trade I’m going to be very angry with myself.”  I added to this methodology by taking it a step further and after the bell has rung to go back and ask. What makes me afraid? or IfIi become angry with myself what would happen?

 

Daily Trading Goal: Choose Your Thoughts

Today’s Daily Trading Goal focuses on how to choose your thoughts.  Thoughts effect your biology and your biology greatly effects your ability to trade through hormones.   Which thoughts you choose to pay attention to is critical.  Listen & choose to think good thoughts.

How I use integral theory to trade the markets

Integral theory is a beast.  You can read Ken Wilber‘s works over a lifetime only to come back to read them again and realize how much you missed.  My friends who introduced me to the theory always found great ways to answer my practical application questions from this theoretical model.  This and other posts will be my attempt to do the same for stock market trading.

As I discussed in a previous post.  Quadrants a great way to know your current perspective on things.  But how do we use the other 4 tenants?

Quadrants: Great for perspective.  Figuring out where your thoughts are and most importantly where other people’s thoughts may be as well.  This is simply a matter of perspective taking methodically.

States:  Are you angry? Stressed? Joyful? Irrationally exuberant?  In Flow?  This is the current state of your being. What’s coloring your trading ideas.  Maybe even confirmation bias.

Lines:  These are the skills people obtain throughout life. Relevant to trading I see pattern recognition, math, probability and high social IQ as skills worth developing for this business.

Levels:  Each of these skills will have levels that will build on the next.  There is no stagnation unless you choose.

Types: Gemini or Capricorn? OCD or free spirited?  How do you type yourself as a trader? Do you believe the hype that you can put in 2 hours of work a day and walk away a millionaire? Do you believe it takes hard work and practice?  This is typing yourself.  It is also called priming in the field of psychology.

I will write about each of these in more detail in future posts.

Daily Trading Goal – Caught in Your Own Thinking

Today’s daily trading goal is to stop getting caught up in your thinking.  In psychology,  one aspect of this is the confirmation bias.  Where view almost all information as confirming our original thoughts.  Stop this by wearing aware it exists.  Be mindful of your thoughts.

Daily Trading Goal – Control Negative Thinking

Today’s trading goal is to Control Negative thinking.  It can be very easy for the snowball effect to take hold after 1 bad trade.  Monitor your thoughts & feelings, being aware of them is more than half the battle.

Daily Trading Goal – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Today’s trading goal is: Don’t Sweat The Small stuff.  If you let the small stuff go (getting filled a few cents below or above your limit. Let it go.  The energy spent on being frustrated can be focused on creativity and development as a trader.

Integral Theory from a Traders View

How I use Ken Wilber’s integral theory to trade the stock market.

Ken Wilber is the famous, possibly infamous, creator of integral theory.  The theory in brief (I can’t stress that enough) posits 5 major tenants:  Lines, Levels, Types, States, and Quadrants.  We’ll be looking at quadrants in this post.

Each quadrant represents an internal (psychological) or external (behavioral) on an individual or collective (societal) level.  As I trader I use these quadrants as a tool to check my perspective.

Upper Left: What am I thinking feeling, expecting from this stock?

Bottom Left: What are other people thinking, feeling, expecting from this stock?

Upper Right: How is the stock moving? What are the patterns and trend?

Bottom Right: What is the sector doing, the collective?

As complicated as integral theory can get. One can typically break it down for practical everyday use.  Metatheories are often good for that. 🙂

Lesson of the Week – Perseverance

Nothing says failure like giving up.  This week, while optimizing and running walk-forward tests on upwards of 12 stocks with 5 tests each, I was confronted with this FAILED almost every morning I woke up.

To wake up every morning seeing the word FAILED in bold capital letters plastered across the screen can weaken your resolve that it’s even possible to make money in the market using automated strategies.  After a few days, I saw PASSED! I was ecstatic! 

I could feel the rush of dopamine flood my brain like a well trained rat pushing that level for a fix.  Of course, the moment was fleeting and further degraded as the next FAILED came up again and again.

I was soon reminded of Carel Dweck’s groundbreaking research in Mind Set.  Focus on the process, the growth, what you learned NOT the outcome.  I supposed that’s a beautiful element of being human: how quickly we can be overtaken by our ancestral brains.  I’m not a zen monk and I won’t pretend that seeing FAILED doesn’t bother me but refocusing on the process made the work less emotionally draining.

Focus on the process, not the outcome.

What was my process?  :

  1. Find stocks that “look” like they trend
  2. Run optimizations with at least 10k bars in each & 1 year worth of data
  3. Run walk forward analysis
  4. Log it
  5. Live paper money test for PASSED

The process is productive, thinking about FAILED is not.  Keep persevering, focus on the process.