Any given trade and any given day may or may not go a trader’s way, depending upon personal and market circumstances. A three-month period, however, is ample opportunity for frequent traders to demonstrate progress in their development. Here’s a quarterly report card that you might find helpful in tracking your own performance improvement:
1) Have I been profitable after expenses over the last quarter? If so, which markets and trading ideas have contributed most to my profitability? How can I maximize those markets and ideas going forward? If I haven’t been profitable, which markets and trading ideas have contributed most to my losses? How can I minimize or modify those markets and ideas going forward?
2) Have I improved my P/L over the prior quarter? Over the average of the prior three quarters? If so, what changes did I make in the last quarter that contributed to my improved performance? What changes in the markets have aided my recent performance? If I have not improved my P/L over the last quarter and/or over the average of the prior three quarters, what have I been doing differently that has been holding me back? What has changed about the markets that’s hampered my performance?
3) Have I managed risk well compared with other quarters? Have I made more in my largest winning days than I’ve lost in my largest losing ones? If so, what has worked for me in capping my losses that I can carry forward to the next quarter? If not, what do I need to do to limit my losses better in the next quarter?
4) Have I adapted well to market changes? How have my markets changed over the last quarter, and what did I do to adapt? Which of those adaptations do I need to emphasize in the next quarter? Which further adaptations can I make next quarter to deal with market changes?
5) How have I improved myself as a trader over the last quarter? What improvements have I made in my trading? In my finding opportunities? In my discipline and self-management? Which improvements do I most want to emphasize and carry forward to the next three months? What improvements haven’t I made in the last quarter that I need to focus on during the coming months?
Notice that the follow up questions are as important as the lead questions. It is those follow ups that turn the quarterly assessment into next quarter's goals. It is not enough to plan trades. Career success also means planning your development.
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