Beeset button

Recently my Beeminder goals are taking way more time and energy than I’m able to give. I’ve been derailing a lot, which is expensive and isn’t helping me achieve my goals. There isn’t a smoking gun as far as a change in my life or a particular goal that’s giving me trouble, it’s just generally too high of a level of pressure right now.

I’m wondering if anyone has dealt with this before and has ideas about which of these will be more or less effective:

Within the akrasia horizon

  • Some goals have >1 week of safety buffer—no need to worry about those.
  • Some goals have $0 pledge, and I never use no-mercy. I can force a derail using retroratchet / the road editor / changing the deadline, and get past the akrasia horizon that way.
  • I could consider doing the same for goals that have non-$0 pledge, though that will cost me money.
  • I could try to squeak by for a week. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.
  • I could email support and ask them to change something—but I’d only really consider that if something about the goal wasn’t legit.

Past the akrasia horizon

  • I could archive some goals. But I like my goals and don’t especially want to give up on them.
  • I could permanently decrease the rate on some or all of my goals. How should I determine which ones and how much?
  • I could use take-a-break or the road editor to temporarily lower the rate for some period between a week and a year (most of my goals are set to end every year so I can review whether I want to renew them). Limiting case: temporarily set the rate to 0. How should I determine which goals, how long, and the temporary rate?
  • I could decrease my pledges. Limiting case: set all my pledges back to $0. I generally lower my pledge one level when I renew a goal after a year (allowing myself one free/cheap derail). I could also change my pledge caps. Right now most are $30, a couple are pledgeless and I have one $5 and one $10.



It depends! What’s important to you about the goals you’re using Beeminder to track? How much of a financial burden are the repeated derails?

The first question to think about is how you got into the situation where this set of goals became overwhelming. If it’s truly the case that nothing in particular has changed about your life (aren’t you planning a wedding??), that means your current commitments are above your capabilities - even if it seems like you’ve been keeping them for a while! I think of my Beeminder goals the same way I do about my effort at work: I intentionally don’t work at max effort all the time - maybe only 90% - because I need there to be some room for me to “give 110%” (110% * 90% = 99%, still physically possible!) It’s likely the case that on a particularly energetic day you bit off a little more than you could chew by bumping up a rate or starting a new goal, and you’ve been slowly chipping away at any reserve you had ever since.

But wait, you are planning a wedding, aren’t you? Give that its due as the huge life event it is! Even if you’re not actively working on wedding-related items on a given day, the start of a marriage involves an incredible amount of effort as you and your spouse-to-be come to terms (consciously or not) with intertwining your lives in such a significant way. You’re not going to be able to devote as much attention to your personal goals in the meantime - and that’s appropriate, because the time leading up to a marriage is, among other things, time to think about how your goals might change in the context of a life you share with someone else.

I peeked at your goal page, and at least your public-facing goals seem like they may involve a lot of “nice to have” activities - reading, watching movies, etc. If you’ve found yourself derailing a lot lately, it may be time for some triage on the goals that aren’t core to keeping your life running. It’s hard to tell from the outside, of course, but it looks like mostly you’re not using Beeminder for the most important parts of your life - and maybe some reprioritization is in order.

If money is an issue, start by getting yourself out from under expensive pledges. Then pause or at least reduce your commitments on non-crucial goals. I’d recommend flattening the rate rather to 0 than dropping the pledge, because a $0 pledge doesn’t free you from the tracking effort and/or the stress of feeling like you’ve failed when you derail. That’s also why I say a rate of 0 rather than just “easier”. If you don’t archive the goal, you can still track your efforts if you want, so you won’t lose “credit” for anything you manage to do. The other thing this lets you do is figure out the rate you naturally do with tracking only - which will be a good starting point whenever you decide to change the rate again.

I recently made several major life changes in the space of a few months, and I took this approach. I reduced my rates on nearly all of my goals to 0 to give myself space for the physical logistics and also the mental processing. I left three goals running at their normal rate: flossing, exercising, and keeping my inbox empty - all of which are key habits that keep me running day-to-day. The rest of my goals are various levels of “nice to have,” and I still haven’t upped the rates on all of them. It’s been a gradual process as I have the energy and inclination, and I’ve been surprised at how long it took to feel not-overwhelmed again once the obvious life changes were past.

TL;DR - Think through what your priorities really are for these goals relative to the rest of your life. Then flatten the roads on goals you can do without, until you’ve found a new balance and have some capacity to spare.


It varies by goal, but the common element is that they’re things I would neglect if I didn’t Beemind them.

Being able to afford them is not an issue. At some point they do start to seem like a waste of money, though.

I agree, my commitments are above my capabilities. I am trying to decide how to back off of them in a controlled way.

Well, yes. And last year I was traveling to London 9 times to visit my fiancée (then girlfriend), and next year or the year after I might be helping to care for an infant. Those seem more like life circumstances than life events. That is, they call for judiciously rebalancing my goals, not ragequitting them.

There are things that I do that I don’t Beemind because I don’t think Beeminding them would make me do them better / more. 4 of my goals are arguably “nice to haves” in the sense you mention, though note these may be things I neglected for years so I feel a lot more strongly about having them as goals than you might think. 3 are health/fitness related. 3 are meta/self-management (an area I know from experience I neglect to an extreme degree if I don’t have a system). 2 more are arguably meta/self-management as well (must-do and wedding-do) and 1 of those is already focused on the wedding. The remaining two are about doing something nice for my fiancée and not playing too much of a particularly addictive game. I only have two hidden goals; one is a “just for fun” with no pledge and a road that can never realistically derail, and the other is a work-related thing I’d prefer people didn’t casually snoop on (and which is also very easy).

I don’t think money is an issue, at least in the sense you mean that. So would you suggest leaving the pledges as they are?

I don’t feel that stressed about having already derailed. I’m also not stressed by the mere existence of a goal. I am stressed by goals getting close to their deadlines (that’s kind of the point of Beeminder, to induce that stress so that you act on the goal to alleviate it). I’m more stressed by this when the pledge is $30 (I never let pledges get over $30, and $0/$5/$10 isn’t a huge difference usually, though I use it to prioritize when derailing on something is inevitable). I’m also stressed by needing to enter data. However, I know from experience that if a goal never gets close to derailing, I probably will never bother to enter data.

I do like the idea of figuring out the natural rate (although I think a depressing number of them may be zero). Maybe if I Beemind just entering data, without any actual goal rate?