As we come to the end of 2009 and a holiday weekend, it's a great time to reflect on trading performance for the past year and goals for 2010.
Without ways of tracking and reviewing performance in real time, however, trading goals for the year aren't much more likely to have force than other well-intended (but quickly forgotten) new year's resolutions.
Where are you making money? What is causing you to lose money? What are the market ideas and conditions where you should be taking more risk? What are the situations in which you should be containing risk, or perhaps standing aside altogether? How much heat do you typically take on trades, and how can you execute your ideas better to reduce drawdowns within the trade? How do your winning and losing trades clump together over time, and how much of the clumping is due to psychological influences? How much is due to market conditions?
You can't get the answers if you don't ask the questions, and you can't get the answers if you don't have ways of tracking what you're doing.
I see where StockTickr is offering a basic version of their journaling and performance software free of charge. They're also offering a free trial for their pro version that tracks risk and performance metrics and that links to Trade Ideas and the Trade Ideas odds maker module. This latter functionality creates a very nice suite of tools for generating, executing, and tracking the outcomes of your ideas.
Performance improvement starts with measurement, whether you're performing in track and field events, racecar driving, or weightlifting. To know what you are doing well so that you can do more of it; to know what you're doing poorly, so that you can avoid it: that's not such a bad goal for the new year.