a thread of derailment and non-legit examples

Clean borders are great. They tell you exactly what counts as completing your task and what doesn’t. They force you to be very clear and don’t let you procrastinate “just a little bit.”

Unfortunately, they’re very difficult to implement in the real world, which has so many oddball exceptions!

That’s why fine print / goal rules and clarification is so important, to stop you from getting away with anything.

This thread is for me and others to post examples of near misses, a sort of derailment log.

Right now I have three weaselproofed / no-excuses goals, and three that can be called non-legit. Any time I derail on a goal, or call non-legit, I want to keep track of it here and indicate the circumstances.

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I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on any of these, or see people’s own examples.

10/27, 1pm - this was my 1pm goal to lock the phone up. I was on a work call at the time which I judged to be what I wanted to be doing, so I called this one non-legit. Maybe I should add that to the goal rules / fine print.

10/29, 4pm
10/31, 4pm

I don’t remember what happened here - I think I just missed these ones. I set up my other phone with a loud alarm at a few minutes before, but I think it was off at the time.

10/30, 12:30am’

11/1, 12:30am’

(in my logs, I use the prime notation to indicate it’s the next day, so 11/1 12:30am’ is actually 11/2. it’s very useful when something is technically Thursday but we’re calling it Wednesday.)

This was my 12:30am goal to lock my phone up for 4 hours, turn off my monitor, and not use the phone or computer. I missed these because I had hearings the next morning, and I put off doing the work until late at night.

This goal is weaselproofed / no-excuses, so I have to pay the $30 each time anyway!

11/1, 5pm - this was my 5pm goal to lock the phone up. I did not lock my phone up at 5pm because I had a terrible toothache and was sleeping. I called this one non-legit. Arguably this should have counted, since I’d been staying up late to finish work instead of doing work early and going to sleep early, so I had been depriving myself of sleep. What do you think?

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10/30 1pm

This one I am not sure about. I haven’t called non-legit yet. My boyfriend left early in the morning and I had trouble getting back to sleep, and I finally did and slept through the 1pm task, and even missed my dentist appointment. This is another one where I could claim non-legit since I wasn’t feeling well and had a bad toothache. I’m not sure if I should - what do you think?

10/31 5pm

Similar issue - the 5pm goal is to lock my phone for 40 min, and within that time, meditate for 12 min, do a stretch for 2 min, and choose a work task.

In this case, I did lock my phone and started meditating but then I fell asleep due to being so tired. So I missed this.

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i think it depends on why you have these tasks. if i had a goal to lock my phone, it would be to minimise phone usage. yes you can’t lock it when you’re asleep, but you’re also not using it when you’re asleep, so you’re within the spirit of the goal (no phone used), plus something unforeseen changed the circumstances (toothache). i’m not gonna let my steps goal legitly derail when i’m resting at home because i’m sick.

just my quick opinion, would be interested in what others think!

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The problem is that then that becomes an Overly General Excuse because I’m always “sick” and exhausted haha!

I don’t always have a bad toothache, but it’s hard to draw the line.

And wherever you draw the lines, they get pushed over time to become more lenient - it’s a one-way ratchet. So there’s an argument to always be extremely strict, since they’ll slide eventually anyway.

This is the advantage of weaselproofed (no-excuses mode) goals! You don’t even have the option of calling not legit for those, which is INCREDIBLY relaxing since you don’t have to agonize over it! I underrated this benefit previously.

So there’s more to the goal than that. The goal requirements are:

  • lock my phone up for 40 min, and during that time period:
    • meditate for 12 min
    • do stretches for 2 min
    • choose a task to work on (I don’t have to actually work on it, but ideally I would for 20 min)

So in this case I did not do the stretches during the required time period.

I’m also wary of the “spirit of the goal” argument as that’s infinitely flexible.

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well, i guess i’m fortunate enough that i don’t have that problem :) today i came down with a sore throat / cold / whatever, i’m clearly sick. this isn’t how i normally feel. i felt “healthy” yesterday.

if that argument works for you (it would absolutely ruin me financially and emotionally, LOL), then why not put everything in no-excuses mode?

i guess then it would be a legit derailment? my logic is, if you’re feeling well enough to meditate AND choose a task to work on / work on it, then you’d be well enough to do the stretches, especially since that’s only 2 minutes … you could put it in the fine print of the goal that if you’re able to do at least one of the three things, you have to do all of them, otherwise it’s a legit derailment?

adding my own thoughts about my own goal here, because this discussion got me thinking:

  • like i said, i got a sore throat today, which will possibly turn into a cold, in either case i feel sick.
  • i will derail on my steps goal tomorrow if i don’t go outside (or run around in circles in the flat, which i won’t do).
  • i’ll call that derailment non-legit, because i’m sick.
  • what does “being sick” mean in this case? does it mean it’d be physically impossible for me to do the goal? probably not. i don’t feel feverish currently, and arguments could be made that with simply a sore throat i don’t need to be bedridden. arguments could be made that, even if i don’t want to go outside into the cold, i could simply walk up and down the flat enough times until i meet my goal, no matter how tedious that is.
  • however, i was raised with a mindset of “when sick, rest, take it easy, don’t stress”. which i still mostly live by.
  • when i had covid a few months ago, it would have been physically impossible for me to walk multiple thousands of steps a day. going from the couch to the bathroom to the couch again was infinitely exhausting. arguments could be made that a derailment on my steps goal would only be non-legit if it’s truly physically impossible for me to meet it.
  • i disagree.
  • am i too lenient with what “being sick” means for me and my goals? maybe? i would probably be well enough to still do some tidying tonight for 10 minutes, instead of not doing it and calling it a non-legit derailment, because i’m sick. i’ll have to ponder that.
  • but i’m also very afraid of being too strict with these things. if i say i’m healthy enough to do the tidying with a sore throat, then where to draw the line? high fever? light fever? “being sick” as in “feeling phyiscally ill / different than i do normally” is an easy enough line to draw, for me.

i think legit vs. non-legit derailments is a really weird tight-rope-act to walk. maybe it would help if we had a field somewhere where we could put something like “general derailment fine print” thoughts? like, when using “being sick” as a reason for non-legit derailments, what are the parameters of that? for me, high fever obviously counts, but does low fever? do i say that if i am well enough to work on one goal, i should be well enough to work on all of them? if i cannot work on a goal in the morning before i go to work, but planned to work on it in the evening after i got home, but then while i’m at work something happens that counts for non-legit derailments (i get sick / my house burns down / whatever), am i still allowed to call non-legit, or would i have been expected to keep enough buffer on the goal to account for that / to work on it in the morning even though i couldn’t have know that the thing was gonna happen?
i do have answers to these questions for myself personally, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to put them down somewhere in beeminder, so that i could refer to them whenever a derailment email rolls in … also, so one could add to these thoughts when a new, unanticipated situation pops up.

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11/1 11pm

I just missed this one too - this is another one where the alarm was on my other phone and it was off. (I had turned it off due to being sick.)

Fortunately, this goal is weaselproofed / no-excuses mode, so I don’t have to worry about whether to call non-legit!!

Yay! I’m up to date on writing about all derailments since 10/27!

As an aside - I’m getting much better at these! The first half of October, 10/1 - 10/15, I got 14 derailments! Since then, 10/16 - 11/4, I’ve only gotten 7!

I got the other phone back on now so hopefully I won’t miss any more alarms.

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Ok, but what if you stay up late on your phone instead of sleeping and feel sick the next day due to being low on sleep? That’s clearly feeling sick, yet you did that to yourself and a derailment the next day clearly should count as legit.

Well, what happens when I really do get sick and miss some?

Why would it ruin you emotionally? please elaborate.

Thinking about this, there are several trade-offs you have to make in your Beeminder setup:

  • High pledge amounts - risk of calling non-legit too much, risk of great financial loss, risk of sacrificing your health to get the task done

  • Low pledge amounts - risk of ignoring the goals too often

  • Too strict about when to count it (no-excuses mode or following strict rules) - risk of great financial loss in an actual emergency or if you’re actually sick

  • Too lenient about when to count it (lenient rules or ignoring your own rules, or interpreting them in a more lenient way) - risk of letting your boundaries erode and slide, need to worry about whether to call it non-legit

so making some of mine no-excuses is a way to get a middle ground there. If all of them were no-excuses, that would cause problems in dire situations; if none of them were, I might let my boundaries slide too much.

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What happened here is that I fell asleep during the meditation, due to not sleeping enough the day before, so I didn’t do the stretches within the required 40-min time block.

it is, and it’s one I struggle with.

I’m confused by your suggestion - we already do have a fine print field! Do you mean a universal one that applies to all goals? I mean, you could just copypaste, but it really should be customized per goal. Like the physical activity ones should probably have a different “illness” standard than tidying or meditating.

What are your answers to this personally? I’d be interested in hearing.

I’d also like to hear others’ thoughts on this! @lanthala @dreev @bee @adamwolf @spencerrose @linux535 @narthur and anyone else feel free to buzz in!

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absolutely, that would count as legit!

well, you already have some goals in no excuses mode. are they different? would being sick not be a good excuse to not do them as well?

if i have to pay for a derailment i want it to be “my fault” or my decision that i didn’t do the thing. if my house burns down, or the death of a loved one already ruins me emotionally, or i get sick, or whatever, and on top of that horrible-out-of-my-control-thing i’d have to pay money to beeminder, that would seem incredibly unfair to me. if i burn my house down, kill my loved one, stay up so late that i don’t feel fully functional the next day, that’s a different story. but i don’t want to be punished for something that’s not my fault. (yes yes, paying isn’t punishment, but it would absolutely feel that way when i couldn’t call non-legit.)

hm, that’s fair i guess. so far in my fine print i only keep notes of what the goal parameters are—what counts as a +1, or as a +0.5, etc.

well, there were a lot of derailments for me last night. i’ve decided to call non legit on some of them, but not all. i’m gonna pay up for my mailog goal, because i could have done it early, i wasn’t habitually edge skating on this one per se, i just let the derailment approach and had the misfortune of getting sick in the meantime. maybe the future 10$ instead of 5$ will help me finally get that last thing done.
i’m also gonna pay up for my skritter goal. this one i’m on the fence about, but i did manage to work towards most other language goals yesterday, and in the end i needed to prioritise sleep and just didn’t want to do 9 minutes of skritter.
the logic behind calling my ttmik goal non legit is that i always use that as speaking practice (informal goal requirement), and with a sore throat speaking isn’t fun.
i also called non-legit on my tidying and steps goals. tidying would have been due on friday, when i started getting sick and spent basically all day in a different city. i have a small post derail respite buffer on this, so it’s due again tomorrow anyway.

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They’re easier than the other goal to do when sick, since they just require meditating and spending a few minutes reading my therapy cards. But while sick I might (and did) sleep through them and lose money.

I could have a setup where they’re not in no-excuses mode, and being sick is a legit excuse - but there’s a trade-off there, which is that if I didn’t have any goals in no-excuses mode, it’d be easy to start making excuses. If they’re all in no-excuses mode, I’d lose too much money and wear myself out. Having some of them but not others bee in no-excuses mode is a good compromise.

I wrote more about this here:

Check it out!

I can relate, but the cost of that (for me) is having beeminder bee significantly less effective, so I’m trying this approach, which is a little more unfair, but a lot more effective. I think that’s a worthwhile trade.

Plus, who are we kidding, 99% of the time it actually is my fault.

It’s also a worthwhile endeavor to increase one’s zone of control by taking personal responsibility for more things.

And also, in my view, paying is totally punishment - that’s the point!

that all makes sense - I’m doing something similar.

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11/5 12:30am’

I derailed on this one again! Same thing - I put off working till late in the evening, then once I started working, I put off the urgent task due the next morning, so I made the call to derail so I could be more prepared.

Sadly I did not get much sleep :frowning:

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11/6 10, 11pm

Ugh, derailed twice today and lost $40! :sob:

I fell asleep again during the 10pm meditation and didn’t get to the stretch, and my 11pm alarm went off but I didn’t quite regain consciousness fast enough to take care of it!

Counting these as legit derails!

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11/7 10pm

Ugh, missed another one yesterday. No excuse for this one, I was all ready to start and I got distracted by something on Twitter and just barely missed the time to start it!!
This one is legit.

11/8 11am

Ok, I called nonlegit on this one. I had dental surgery yesterday and have been exhausted so I made the call to sleep in and not set an alarm, and I slept in past the 11am task.

Not sure if that was right! What do you guys think?

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depends—is it vital that this task is done by/before/at 11am exactly? or could you have shifted it around to be done at 3pm, for example? if this is another phone lock goal then i’d say non-legit is valid.

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So it is part of the goal definition for this particular goal that the task be done at before 11am. It is another lockphone goal.

So by definition it could not have been done at 3pm today. Do you mean 3pm yesterday? I hadn’t considered whether I could get ahead on the lockphone goals by doing them the previous day.

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Why would it ruin you financially and emotionally?

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i basically don’t have any goals that need to be done by a specific time of day during the day. you seem to have the same / a similar type of goal at different times of the day (11am lock phone goal, 5pm lock phone goal). so it makes sense, at least to me, to say that it’s fine in some cases to make the decision to sleep through your 11am lock phone goal, because you’ll have your 5pm lock phone goal anyway that you’ll still have to do.
of course you could have said “i want to sleep in on this, but i don’t want to just not do the goal, so i’ll do the goal some time after i wake up.” then if you successfully did that, you could have given yourself a +1 data point and called not legit. if you didn’t do it, it would have been a legit derailment.
however, dental surgery seems like a big enough reason to call non-legit. (unless it was planned for weeks on this specific day, then you should have probably considered this and set a break in advance.)

i explained in a previous post why it would ruin me emotionally. see:

and it would ruin me financially because i would spend a lot more money on derailments. i don’t really have that much money, and i’m also trying to save more for a big trip next spring :)

Right, I want to do it once before 11, and again before 5pm, and again before 10pm.
I designed it that way rather than just having a goal where I had to do it three times a day, because if I had just required three a day, I’d put it off till the end of the day and then not have time to do them all, or else try to cram them in at the end.

No, they’re two different goals, so if I fail one, I fail it. I can’t justify skipping it on the grounds that I have another one.
I don’t understand how that could be fine.

That isn’t possible - the deadline for the goal is 11am, so it’s not possible to wake up after 11am and then do the goal and enter a +1 data point, since the deadline would already have lapsed.

The whole point of this goal is to have a fixed deadline and it doesn’t count if I miss the deadline, even if I do it afterwards.

Hmm, interesting point! If it’s been planned for a while, but I thought it’d be no big deal to take care of the beeminder the next day, and it turned out recovery was tougher than I thought, should it count as non-legit?

What if recovery is always tougher than I think, and I should have known that it would be tougher than I thought and should have set a break in advance?

In this case, I don’t think this particular appointment was set more than a week in advance.

@dreev @bee @narthur @linux535 @lanthala @spencerrose @adamwolf @philip @phi what do you guys think?