It is incredibly easy to review the information and jump to the wrong conclusion. You have to be very careful here.
First, it's crucial that the source of the information is pure and accurate. In other words, don't try to fool yourself. If you were over-trading the hell out of a 6 range chart on CL, then you need to write that down. Don't find excuses, be honest!
Second, when reviewing what you've written, you need to spend hours on each item carefully considering what it means, why you wrote it, what was happening, and what the result was.
Third, you can start to form a "short list" where you've combined several of the most frequently occurring feelings or thoughts from your notes. For example, a short list might look like:
- Don't like small charts. Anything less than a 5m chart doesn't make sense to me. I can't see why things are happening.
- No patience to hold overnight or multiple days.
- I don't like ES. It is just too slow for me.
- I really like CL. It moves fast. I like all the opportunities it gives me.
- I really like the 5m chart. It make sense to me. I can see why the market moves the way it does on a 5m chart.
This is just a small example of a short list. You'll end up making a dozen short lists, one list at a time, and then eventually combine all these short lists into a master list that can be used to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and define your market, time frame, and style. For instance, other short lists might be based on your daily routine (when you start/stop trading, your day job work schedule, your family time, etc). They may be based on your physical and mental state (tired/exhausted, sick, nervous, anxious, etc).
Over time, months and years, all these short lists start to come together and define you as a trader. The important thing is to not try to rush it. If you are in a hurry to be profitable, then you will 100% not be profitable!
It's like having a closed mind. If you have never eaten a certain kind of food yet have made up your mind that it's repulsive to you, then you have closed your mind to it and are biased towards it.
The same is true of trading. If you've made up your mind that you will be able to do it quicker/faster than what everyone says, then you are now biased in that regard and everything you do will be skewed. It won't be true.
Don't get me wrong. Willpower is crucial. You have to believe in yourself. But, you have to believe in yourself about the right convictions, such as "I will always be honest to myself about why a trade failed". To me, if you make a statement such as "I will be successful no matter what it takes", it is dangerous and not helpful. I hope you can see the difference between the two statements.
An open mind is the crucial first step to being honest with yourself. If you continually try to hide your mistakes from yourself, you will never benefit from them. Mistakes are critical! It's how we learn. And there is nothing wrong with making them! It's nothing to be ashamed of! It's nothing to fear! How can you learn if you never make mistakes? So getting back to the notepads --- be certain to be honest with what you write.