I’ve been mulling over how Beeminder “should” handle someone giving up on a goal.
First, some background on my thinking. Beeminder works because of an interesting mix of factors that are in balance, here presented as a typical dialogue between me and someone I’m telling about beeminder:
I use this thing Beeminder, which charges me money if I stray from my goals.
Oh god, I would hate that, I would always fail and be charged money.
Well, you can set the goal as easy as you like. You can set it so that you have to go for a run once a month, or study French for 3 minutes/day.
Well, that would make me feel silly, I would want to set it higher than that.
You can set it to something higher that is meaningful for you, but still much easier than you think will make you fail. Maybe a run once per week and french 10 minutes/day.
So what’s the point of using beeminder then if it’s so easy and realistic?
Do you currently go for a run and study French at that rate?
Point taken. Okay so, how much control can it really have over me. I can just turn it off any time can’t I?
No - you can change your rate, but that change doesn’t kick in for a week.
Okay then if one day I’m sick of studying French so much I’ll just crank the rate way down, put up with the rate I’m sick of for a week, and then be on an easier rate and now I’m not studying like I want to.
Right, that’s a feature. You aren’t tricking Beeminder in that case, you are explicitly deciding to change your goal.
Well then I’ll just keep lying to Beeminder and never do any real work.
You are really lying to yourself, but Beeminder forces you to put that in writing and look at it and feel the shame.
Fine then I’ll just delete my Beeminder account and tell my credit card company to refuse all charges.
Okay… but again, you are fighting with yourself, you aren’t cheating a system.
So why use Beeminder at all if it’s just myself?
Because humans have a weird mix of weaknesses and tendencies and motivations at various times, Beeminder is a way to quantify and restrict those down over time so that goals can be achieved.
is enlightened, signs up for Beeminder
So, that’s why Beeminder works. But! I think there is an edge case that is an ambiguous mix of “cheating” and “deciding” - when bailing on a goal.
Just now I bailed on my running goal and archived it. I already go to the gym N times per week and usually after I strength train I do cardio. My goal was to also go for a stand-alone longer run once a week. But I’ve missed the goal several times and when I do go I somehow always end up running on Fri or Sat night, which is depressing. Long story short, it’s no longer a goal of mine to do this.
But I’m supposed to go for a run today… So I lied. I might have to lie one more time before the archive takes effect.
I feel totally fine with this. It’s no longer my goal. I made a decision about my new rate that starts next week: 0. I guess it’s possible that I’ll change my mind again between now and then. But I highly doubt it.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I simply cheating, because the point of the archiving delay is to have to deal with bailing decisions for a week just like a rate change? Or is the bailing case different from the rate change case?