Do you know your lifetime investment performance? If you’re like most people then no, you probably can’t answer this question.
Poll: Do you know your lifetime investment performance? (i.e. what returns you earned aggregated across all accounts/positions over your lifetime). If you don't know it exactly, but think you are close, please choose "Yes"
— Nick Maggiulli (@dollarsanddata) October 30, 2020
I know exactly what my returns are, or at least I used to know.
I started trading in the aftermath of the GFC. I can’t remember who inspired me to start a journal, but I owe that person a huge debt of gratitude. I recorded every transaction I made and why I made it.
After some time I started to grow frustrated with my performance. The returns weren’t terrible, but I was struggling to develop an actual process. I didn’t know how to properly size my positions and I was having trouble letting my winners run, to name just a few of the challenges.
Without my journal, it would have been easy to recreate an alternate reality. But looking back on my own words and my own handwriting, I had all the proof I needed that what I was doing wasn’t working.
The great Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Documenting your results and your thought process is a great way to check yourself.
I spoke about my experience as a trader and my journey in general on Infinite Loops, a podcast with Jim O’Shaughnessy and Jamie Catherwood.