Hello there!

This is the introduction, where I explain why I wanted to start this project and what you’ll hopefully get out of it.

This whole thing started out as a way to do better than most of the stuff out there in the self-help field.

In my experience, it seems like most self-help tries to do too much with too little. There’s often an overemphasis, I think, on trying to show how every problem you face can be solved by their One Magic Principle.

So when I found myself interested in the field of self-improvement, I found a lot of research that was useful, but it was all scattered in lots of places.

Here, I’m trying to do better. I’m trying to put all the useful information I found into one place. And I’m trying to have it all make sense.

This project is also about areas like motivation, procrastination, planning, habits, and the like, but I’ve tried to write something that doesn’t suck. In short, it’s a book about rationality, which is sort of like applied cognitive psychology plus some philosophizing.

There will be some descriptive parts that summarize the scientific research, but there will also be adorable pictures, lots of examples, and a focus on practicality, which I think a lot of self-help books also miss.

In short, I’ve tried to write the sort of book that I would have very much appreciated when I was just starting out.

My hope is that reading through this book gives you both some exciting self-improvement techniques to try out, as well as a clearer way to think about these topics.

I confess, that this isn’t exactly the book that today’s me would write.

There’s an overemphasis on systems in this book, and there’s not enough on feelings. (Yep. I claim that feelings are important.) I’ve sort of changed my mind on several areas that this book touches on, like how to handle habits and motivation.

Still, I think there’s something of a prerequisite-thing happening here, where the ideas contained in this book are a little like training wheels. There was a time where I found them immensely useful, and I hope I can pass some of that stuff onto you.

And once you’ve gotten your use out of the stuff here, you’ll be able to move on to even more interesting horizons.

Just remember that with this sort of applied psychology, you’re often going to be doing stuff to yourself, and some of that stuff might be deep and probing. And it might change you.

So please make sure you don’t turn into a work-robot.


I’m serious about this.


But do have fun trying this stuff out!

-Owen Shen
September 2017

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