It was 2005 when I first started working with traders; a large proprietary trading group had employed me as a performance consultant to provide coaching and training to their global trading talent. One of the programs that I initiated there was the ‘Trader Performance Program’, a series of workshops and 1-1 coaching sessions designed to help the traders to enhance their risk taking, decision making, performance and ultimately results. One of the key requirements of attending the program was the completion of a daily performance sheet, and a weekly trading performance review. These sheets were bound together, and formed a journal of both objective and subjective data and observations. That program was extremely successful, and I am convinced that one of the key factors behind that was the discipline of keeping the journal, recording key data and observations, reflecting on them, gaining the insights, and acting on them.
I have since run many performance focused programs, and coaching programs, for different trading clients including banks, hedge funds, commodities trading houses, proprietary trading firms and energy companies, and without doubt, a ‘journal’ in some form, has always played a key part in the success of these interventions.
A trader’s journal can act like an anchor for their trading performance, by demonstrating a consistent and committed approach to gaining a better awareness and understanding of who they are as a trader, the factors that influence their trading decision, and identifying actions to take to move them closer towards their best trading self.
Here are some of the core reasons why I encourage my trading clients to keep a journal;
Awareness – the process of journaling and reflecting on their performance helps traders to develop greater self-awareness, and enables them to better identify their trading emotional and behavioural patterns, and to be better able to manage and improve them.
Commitment – keeping a journal demonstrates a commitment to improving performance and builds self-discipline.
Focus – a well-structured journal can help traders to identify and pay greater attention to the factors that impact their trading decisions and performance.
Mastery – good journaling practice requires not just recording and reflecting, but also acting on insights gained. The process of reflection, insight and action, puts traders into a learning loop, that helps them to develop and become a better trader.
Mind Management - journaling provides an opportunity for traders to write down their thoughts and feelings, to take a step back from them, and to reflect on them.