Dear reader (insert your name here),
It’s good to see you here!
My name’s Al, and I live in the Philippines. I write pseudonymously by the name Al Callaghan.
I want to thank you personally for checking this page out.
“What a weirdo, thanking someone for checking his egotistical page out!“
But seriously, it means a lot to me. That’s because I believe attention is more valuable than money.
That’s actually the reason why I don’t post often — I want to make them worth your while.
Anyway, I just wanna share something really dear to me—how all this and my blog started. (think of this as my chance to connect with you on a personal level.)
Last April 2019, I accomplished a feat I never thought I’d even get close to: I passed the Board Exams as a 6th placer in our country.
I’m not telling this to brag or anything, but to give context. You see, there were a couple of questions that led me to that result I really wanted. Here’s that story.
Back in my early college life, I wasn’t even a decent student; if you predicted my future based on what I’ve been doing back then, you’d tell me I’m a disaster waiting to happen. Some reasons why:
I barely passed my exams, cut some classes, and then later on, failed some.
I wasn’t some gifted kid who talks about quantum theory in Grade 6 and couldn’t see a damn thing without his glasses.
Instead of being an obedient follower of the “study hard” mantra, I was just a curious kid who questions almost everything in the world. (Except why I’m doing it.)
Why do some people achieve great results I want and some don’t? What do they do? Maybe it’s how they think…so, how do they think? Did they also ask these questions while they were playing Pokémon as a kid? More importantly, why am I asking questions? I haven’t even finished my assignment…ugh.
I kept asking those questions—yes, the exact same—even in college, and that led me to a vague resolution: Maybe success comes from doing things in an unconventional way.
“Maybe there are just a lot of things I didn’t know; a lot of things I’m not doing; a lot of thoughts I’m not thinking,” I continued.
That striking realization would then go on to formulate my subtle life philosophy:
To live better, you have to get better at what you’re going to do *anyway*.
Some examples would be:
- You’re going to sleep, anyway. Why not learn how to sleep better?
- You’re going to learn, anyway. Why not learn how to learn? (This led me to Anki and Active Recall)
- You’re going to work at something—a personal project, a business, a job—anyway. Why not learn how to work better?
- You’re going to think and decide, anyway. Why not learn how to think and decide better?
These rhetorical questions led me to discover the principles I live by now. Some of which are:
- Principles trump “tips and hacks”. An ounce of understanding is worth a pound of knowledge. Just because a “tip” is backed by science doesn’t mean it matters — especially if you don’t really understand how it fits together in the whole.
- Discipline isn’t the art of self-control; it’s the art of not using it. Habits allow you to automate a behavior. Designing your environment turns good behaviors into default behaviors. Locking in good behaviors is better than resisting temptation.
- There’s always a limit to hard work. Hard work is important, but without a strategy to manipulate the variables constraining your growth, it’s just self-sabotage.
These principles guided my behaviors to the point that I can achieve whatever I put my mind into.
Since then, I felt the moral obligation to share these with others. Damn right — I started a blog without knowing a thing about good writing.
As you can imagine, my articles last 2019 are crappy stuff.
You’d literally cringe when you read them! (example) “Why did you even say that? Why the heck are you shouting?”
So yeah — let’s leave that embarrassing past… Anyway, the good news is it’s only going to get better.
In the past, I wanted to make Improveism a bit like the ones you share on Facebook because there’s always interesting or new information. But there’s something I’ve just discovered this year (2020) that would change my mind, as well as the future of the blog:
Each hour you spend consuming bad information is another hour you don’t spend on high-quality ones.
So, I developed merciless filters for information. In this world of clickbait, much of what we consume are just noise.
Google isn’t even that reliable for good information anymore; it has a bias for sites that have accumulated trust signals, i.e. links and mentions from other sites.
There are exceptions, of course, but the thing is, these sites popping on the first page are often so big because they’re only mass-producing mediocre, clickbait content that gets the views but doesn’t deliver the knowledge.
I didn’t want that anymore. Instead, I want to share my principles for living — that way, I’ll be seeing you grow while improving myself in the process.
That’s why starting at this time of writing (April 10, 2020), I’m only going to share something when it’s high-quality and useful. One insightful post beats 100 shitty ones, anyway.
I aspire to be the signal you’d want to receive, instead of being the noise you’d want to reduce.
I want to improve my content to the fullest extent, and for that I need your help—think of answering these questions as the best way to support the long-term growth of my writing:
What topic do you think is filled with obvious, generic “tips and hacks” advice that you want to see a thoughtful answer on
The best one I can see is Procrastination, so I made a giant guide about solving it without using willpower.
Or if you’ve liked any of my posts, then what do you want to see next?
Not only will this help me direct my efforts, but this helps you and other readers receive the signals and avoid the noise, too.
That said, I’m thinking of making a members-only area in the near future (with comprehensive courses, perhaps) so I can give the best, exclusive content to you—but we’ll see. Maybe in late 2020, maybe in 2021. Who knows.
If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for caring & taking the time to listen to my long-ass story.
This wasn’t even meant to be this long, but I hope you got some value out of it—or at least, provoked some questions you never thought you had. 😉
Aight, I’ll see you in the next posts, and have a great day!
To your newfound learning,