What’s key here, and it really is, because you will have to do it all again if you don’t get it right, is that each and every element about your trade has to be quantifiable. What I mean by this is that you must be able to define a parameter for each trade, a way to measure each variable that is constant. This can’t be down to personal opinion. Basically if you gave your trading ‘rules’ to me or anyone else and we filled out your journal we would all have the same data, none of it can be discretionary.
“Quantitative information or data is based on quantities obtained using a quantifiable measurement process. In contrast, qualitative information records qualities that are descriptive, subjective or difficult to measure. Quantitative may refer to: … Numerical data, also known as quantitative data”
So put the ground work in, really think about what you want to record and why - forgetting a variable now will just frustrate you when you have to re-visit each and every trade to obtain the data. I’m not talking about variables such as the currency pair, entry and exit time and the price. Look at factors that perhaps effect where you enter, what stop level you use, what TP level you use, what the output is of any indicators you use prior to entering the trade, are you using moving average (is price below or above when entering the long or short trade), what does the higher time frame suggest on the same SMA from a bias point of view. Are you using an ATR, how much of a typical daily move has taken place before you go for a retrace or continuation (express this as a ratio perhaps). This sort of data can’t be faked, it is what it is on the chart, on your chart and my chart.
I don’t advocate using loads of indicators either, it just becomes a mess and keeping it simple is key. But one advantage to indicators, both on and off the chart, is that they quantify the data for you and the output is already numercial. It makes it easy to find relationships between the trades you really want and the trades you really don’t.
When you’ve got that completed you can really start to look at all winning and losing trades - what do they have in common from all the data that you’ve collected? That’s where you really start to leverage up your trading ability because you instantly have proof and not a hunch. You’ve got statistics showing you the correlation (this will give you confidence too).
The only problem here is that it kinda comes down to the saying “what came first, the egg or the chicken”…
…it’s not easy to build a decent trading journal without having a decent trading approach, without the approach you wont know what variables to record in your journal, and without the journal you wont know if your trading approach is actually decent, see?
So expect trial and error - but I can promise you that in the long term this will be the most reliable and important piece of work you will have done. It takes time, but if you really want to develop what works for you then this is the approach i’d suggest. You’ll learn a lot along the way.