I’ve been having an email discussion/debate with the creator of a quasi-competitor of Beeminder (I’ll invite them to chime in and identify themself if they’d like – and of course I’ll be happy to promote their startup!). The question is whether Beeminder is too shame/punishment-focused and shouldn’t we change underlying thought patterns, like with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) instead? Beeminder is like guardrails but if you change your motivations at a deeper level, maybe you don’t need guardrails?
Here’s my answer so far:
I think Beeminder and CBT (or any more positive approach – changing environmental cues, tiny habits, success spirals, etc) are great complements! Beeminder is the guardrails and eventually you may have such confidence in having changed your underlying thought processes that the guardrails are superfluous.
But I think it would and should take years before you’d be sufficiently confident of that. Also it’s not just the guardrails, Beeminder is also a nice visualization of your progress and a way to reinforce/ritualize habits, so may be worthwhile even with the guardrail aspect superfluous. Also, for some of us, skating the edge, always relying on the guardrails, doesn’t feel aversive or shamey or anything. This may be especially true for ADHD types who thrive under stress. I think people are different in this way. For me it’s almost relaxing. I set up a Beeminder goal and know that I don’t need to worry – I just do what Beeminder tells me to do each day.