CoolHandLouis’s Beeminder Journal

Groundrules: Please feel free to join in and participate with my daily journal. Ask questions, share experiences, challenge me, give me accountability, or otherwise comment with your thoughts.


May 29, 2021. Here’s my first journal entry. I’m a rank beginner so suggestions and constructive feedback is appreciated.


I’ve started off with two goals, brushing teeth and cleaning room. I’ve derailed on both, both are $10 goals at this point in time.


I’m considering adding a third which is exercise. Here’s how I’m thinking of structuring it, but I really don’t know what’s best.

I’m primarily wanting to get in X minutes per day or Y hours per week cycling on my stationary bike. For example, 30 minutes per day, or 3.5 hours per week.

I’m actually thinking of creating three related goals of increasing intensity. The first two are what I’ll call ladder goals, since they are complementary stepping stones that very naturally must be achieved in order to achieve the last goal, which is the “real goal”.

  1. The first one would be to just go “sit on the bike” that is accomplished by merely getting myself on the bike. Honestly, this might be all that’s needed to establish this as a routine in the long run. Because if I get on the bike, hell I know I’ll start peddling. That gives me flexibility to decide what I want to achieve today. [EDIT: I just now read about this same concept in Ice Cream Truck Loopholes | Beeminder Blog “touching the door of your gym”]. This one might have cap of $30 (lenient) or $90 (aggressive)…

  2. The second one could be “achieve 2nd wind or 10 minutes, whichever is less” because that focuses me on sustaining just a bit, to get me over the hump, and on getting that slight euphoria one can get while exercising, which will hopefully adapt my mind to be drawn towards cycling instead of just seeing it as a chore. This one might have cap of $10 (lenient) or $30 (aggressive).

  3. The last one would be bike for 30 minutes per day. I might add a minimum number of kcal effort as a caveat as well, so that 30 minutes of super slow cycling while watching cartoons and eating bonbons is out. This one might have cap of $5 (lenient) or $10 (aggressive)…

I’m not exactly sure how to deal with sick days or rest days. I might give myself very liberal veto powers at first, until I can dial in the right mix. It could be worded something like “30 minutes on bike or veto, see fine print on veto process.” I know that introduces a big loophole, but that loophole could be patched up over time.


There are several ladder tasks on a goal ladder. The first rung of the ladder goals [EDIT: Maybe ladder tasks is a better term. ] is to just get up and get there. That might be called a touch task. It’s also been described elsewhere as “touching the gym door” or “touching the laundry basket”.

The second rung of the ladder is to sustain some minimal amount of effort on the goal. That might be called a getting started task. [EDIT: A better description might be initial engagement task.] For going to the gym that might be changing and getting on the first machine. For actually using a machine, that might be doing one set of lifts or cycling for a few minutes. For laundry, that might be moving the laundry basket 10 feet.

The third task is the goal proper, to complete the desired behavior. So on the ladder, that’s the goal complete task.

It might be interesting if Beeminder could link tasks to somewhat automate or highlight the relationship between ladder type tasks. I suspect that ladder tasks might just be one type of linked goals.


I think the best way to deal with this is to use Beeminder or TaskRatchet to implement a hard deadline for the veto removal process.

I set up something similar, where I track every non-legit derail that I email support about. This way, I pay money even if I revert a derail, so I’m no longer weasel-motivated to call non-legit just to not pay money and only do so if it’s actually not legitimate. Because of this solution, I’ve only reverted 2 derails since November.


Yes! This is Katy Milkman’s temptation bundling idea.

For those (including myself) that like to go down rabbit holes: Katy Milkman’s temptation bundling idea. - Google Search

This is not a new post. I made a very small edit to this today, Tue July 6, 2021. I didn’t realize that would bump this up to the top of the posts.

CoolHandLouis’s Journal Entry #2

I originally wrote this as a reply to another post. I’ve enhanced it with points #5 and #6, and I’d like to repost it as part of my journal. This post might be continually refined.


My personal philosophy/strategy for most of my goals is to get ahead a bit on my beeminder goals, so that I have some buffer for occasional lapses.

That said, I think that a failure on a beeminder goal is more serious than just the financial penalty. If the day gets late, my resolve gets a little weak, I don’t want to have the mindset of thinking “Ahh it’s just $5, I’m okay with paying out $5 to not do that particular goal tonight.”. No, it’s more important than that.

How much more important it is, that’s debatable and is a personal preference. But I think that’s an important question for each person to answer.

I can make my goals more important than just the financial penalty by following a post derailment process (some of which can be spelled out ahead of time in a goal’s fine details).


If I derail, I’ll consider the following points:

  1. Why did I derail? Was there a valid reason such as illness or exception in the fine print?

  2. Beeminder tuning (Beetuning). Do I need to be a little easier on myself, and reduce the bright red line slope? For example, I overcommitted on the amount of exercise I could do. Or perhaps I just need to anticipate an occasional slump, so I need to maintain a larger buffer? Of course, this strategy may or may not be applicable, depending upon the goal.

  3. Have I simply not reached my motivational pledge point? If so, then it very well may be a case of just accepting the derailment and moving to a higher motivational pledge point.

  4. If I have not reached my motivational pledge point, but I also do not want to increase my maximum pledge, then I might need to reframe the goal to something easier. One needs to be mindful to frame their goals within the bounds of their financial ability to reach their goal’s motivational pledge points. This is a more drastic form of beetuning.

  5. Very similar to the prior point, Beeminder is based on the hypothesis that a sufficient pledge amount would affect a behavioral change. But that might not be absolutely true for every goal. So the question becomes, are there some other things that need to be added to my personal “behavioral change and commitment stack” that might help me to avoid derailing again?

    Some examples might be, (1) talk to my therapist or accountability partner about it (2) journal about it (3) brainstorm other ideas how to better commit (4) include some other punishment in the fine details (atonement). Example for #4 might be doing a bunch of situps, or doing community service like cleaning up trash of the side of the road.

  6. Consider adding in any specialized post derailment instructions, atonements, etc. into the Beeminder goal’s fine print.

  7. Is it an acceptable utility/expense ratio? If one is happy with their progress even with an occasional derailment, then that is also fine. It’s a matter of utility versus expense.

    For example, someone has a big problem brushing their teeth consistently. So they create a continual beemergency capped as a $10 contract to brush their teeth every day, and they only derail twice a year, then that’s a very successful outcome for $20, which they can afford, and nothing needs to change.

    (Thanks @narthur for pointing this out to me.)