Beeminding order from numbness

My brain responds to uncertainty, ambiguity, and anxiety by having me slowly withdraw into a cocoon.

When I withdraw from life, It almost always feels like I’m being strategic - just waiting until I

  • read more
  • ruminate more

Then, I will finally draw the right connections, and come up with a brand new, clever way to do the thing that I’ve been obsessing over.

But it never happens. Because the reality is I am waiting until I don’t feel anxious before I act. I have been aware of this pattern for quite so time in, but it’s hard to catch when you’re just “in the moment” (not in the sense of being present, just in the sense of minute-to-minute).

This withdrawal only leads to more feelings of uncertainty and angst as I realize how much I don’t know. Wrong part of the Dunning-Krueger curve I suppose.

I respond to this by numbing. Not really with drugs or alcohol anymore, just with little tasks that feel like I’m making progress. But they’re just tasks that don’t make me anxious, and I need to get through the ones that make me anxious. So hours turn to days turn to weeks turn to year. Lot’s of motion but displacement.

This pattern is my #1 obstacle in life. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to say that - I don’t know how things would have turned out were it not for my supportive and loving family and friends. Living in my car most likely.

Beeminder hasn’t helped me get past this block that much over the years despite being an extremely heavy user because of this. Time-based goals can easily be hit by getting stuck in this cycle, outcome-based goals lead to constant derailments or mission creep.

I’ve finally, finally realized that what I need this whole time was to be using TaskRachet and Compice’s Stakes to get unstuck. Beeminder’s week-long akrasia horizon’s and day-in-day-out commitments weren’t going to be me over the top.

Seriously. Huge, HUGE thank you to @narthur from TaskRachet and @malcolm from Complice. I went from 5 months spiraling into numbness in my job search to being active on LinkedIn and having interviews every other day.

The main role beeminder plays is getting me to create those tasks. But now I think it’s time to reassess what beeminder can do for me now that I’m not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So this journal is here in part to make sure that I’m:

  1. Coming back to my goals and thinking about them. Not just creating new ones or browsing the forums.
  2. Reasoning through it better, as I know someone can read my thoughts

That said, I haven’t done that here today. That’s because my beeminder goal was to post here. So I guess this is kind of a reflection on that.

I don’t feel numb today. I feel excited :slight_smile:


That’s super encouraging to hear that one-off commitments have been so helpful for you! Looking forward to hearing how things go as you continue figuring this stuff out!


Thanks again!

For some insight, I’ve found that the ingredients for a good beeminder goal are the same for a good TaskRachet tasks.

Or rather, that the ones most likely to really succeed come in groups, with the stress being on inputs first and foremost.

For example, let’s say I’ve got to reply to a message from someone new on LinkedIn.

(My thoughts, if you're curious)

My brain goes crazy here because I overthink when I can’t read someone’s face/hear their tone of voice/writing/etc.

LinkedIn is a text-based professional network, so everyone tries to sound vaguely like a PR manager.

I’ll set 3 tasks:

* [ ] 7:00 pm - Start (open a blank note and start typing)
* [ ] 7:15 pm - Time-based goal (15 minutes writing or send)
* [ ] 7:30 pm - Finish

I almost never need a task to mark the outcome complete in order to get it done. It just acts as sort of a little extra stick, like, “hey, we’re sending this anyway. We’re writing it right now. I think we’re…done?”

Half an hour to send a DM might seem like a lot - but I can assure you that this can easily save me an entire day’s worth of rumination and distraction.

Fortunately, my “Akrasia horizon” for these kind of tasks is sometimes as little as 15 minutes, so I’ll be pretty gung-ho about setting them. Beeminder acts as a failsafe here.