Upgrade Your Journaling System: The Essential Self-Development Habit

Adopt the foundational habit for leadership development. Get better at reflecting on your behaviors. Learn an effective journaling method.

The Party Scientist
5 min readJun 6, 2022

There I am.


On a sea of strangers.

This is called crowd-surf therapy. It’s an exercise that involves touch, eye contact, teamwork, and positive connection. I am an advocate for it.

It requires an adept facilitator. A social risk-taker. Someone crazy enough to risk being seen as crazy. Someone who is comfortable speaking to a crowd authoritatively. Someone comfortable in their skin. Someone who doesn’t give a ****.

I became this someone by practicing journaling. It’s a practice that I’ve done religiously for the last 6 years. Every day, I reflect on my performance and character as a human. Every day, I ask myself if I lived up to the highest version of myself. Every day, I identify ways to be kinder, bolder, and weirder.

Every day, I get closer to fully embodying my values. My values are delineated by the 5V’s.

Before adopting a journaling habit, I recommend you identify your aspirational values. In my world, values are priorities. What behaviors and activities do you prioritize? Values are not traits, they are behaviors. Traits are not real unless put to work in the form of behaviors.

Example: Vibe is about governing oneself. The trait is emotional intelligence, but the behavior is managing one’s emotions and thoughts, and consistently working on the ability to do this.

Once you have a clear picture of your aspirational, enlightened self, then you know what to journal about. Below is the system I’ve developed to get myself closer to this version of myself, everyday.

Example Entry

May 15, 2022

Jacques kicked ass by… (actions)

This section is about acknowledging the ways I made progress and lived up to my values. I recognize and thank myself for my actions.

Jacques woke up… and did… (actions) and met… (people)

This is a chronological record of the day, but with narration. The narration focuses on the questions below. During this section, I identify life principles, ideas, and tasks. I recall what I did.

— what behaviors did he notice in others and in himself.

— what information did he consume.

— what ideas did he have.

— what does he have to do.

— what would he have done differently.

Declared closed. The best has yet to come. Everything on this day has been integrated, accepted, and applied. Begin again in this moment.

This is the closing ritual for the day. It allows me to let go of what happened today and move on. Beginning again is the essence of this. This is the mental practice of resetting one’s life to the present — the practice of being reborn in the present. Every moment, we are reborn. Truth.

I commit to… (behavior)

This is the closing commitment of the day. I declare a new behavior for myself. An example from my entry this morning: I commit to spending my money on others.

Gratitude entry… (name). Thank you for… (behaviors)

This is an appreciative reflection for someone I encountered during the day. I identify the behaviors I admire in them, and the impact that they had on me. I share this with folks a month later.

I do/practice/embody… (principles)

This is my section for affirmations. It’s a space for reminding myself of my values and ideal behaviors. I do three of them each day. Sometimes they are related to the earlier entry, sometimes they are not.

The Method I Use

  1. I voice-dictate all of this using Otter.ai. I do not write.
  2. I journal in third-person. This cultivates psychological distance.
  3. Everyday, I listen to an entry a month ago.
  4. I go for a walk while journaling.
  5. During journaling, I add tasks, resources, tools, and people to my Trello boards. This means journaling is generative. It fills my to-dos.

If I had to recommend only one habit for self-development and well-being cultivation, it would be a daily practice of introspection. Journaling is my foundational habit for looking at myself, getting better, and treating others better. I haven’t missed a day in over a year.

Final Recommendation

Start a journaling practice. Even if it is just one sentence per day.

Could you do me a 10 second favor before you leave? If you’re feeling thankful, could you comment this article? What wisdom do you have to share with other readers? We’d love to hear your additions.

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ps — I help innovative conference, event, & corporate planners unite and exhilarate their audience by applying the science of human connection. Do you know any who’d want to consult the professional party crasher?

Thanks for spreading healthier human connections 🧠

— Jacques The Party Scientist, BSc. Pharmacology

The Biosocial Hacking Movement is about helping humans facilitate healthier human connections in their lives, teams, and communities — so that we can together combat the rise of loneliness and depression in the age of technology.



The Party Scientist

Human Connection & Belonging Strategist | Professor of Shared Joy | I help leaders reinvent how they connect their people and build community