Beeminder Forum

Daily goals - am I weaseling?

Hi,

I have a couple of goals, such as drinking 2L of water or taking my pills, that are set as daily goals.

Now on some occasions I do complete my daily tasks but I forget to add a datapoint for these. When the charge comes through I then go to support to have it cancelled. Recently it has happened a couple of times and I’ve felt uncomfortable bothering support about it. Besides, I always wonder “do they really believe me?”. I suppose it illustrates perfectly the negative reinforcement aspect of beeminder that I end up feeling bad about it and wanting to correct that behaviour even more.

My question is, if the task is done but I forget to update the data, am I weaseling out by asking for the charge to be removed? Should I just take it in the hope that the sting of the punishment will only push me to update things more diligently? However, if I’ve done the task, isn’t that the real goal in the first place?

Also, on a more general note, I’m increasingly disliking setting daily goals on beeminder. On one hand, it does act as a powerful daily reminder but on the other hand I never get the sense of achievement that I have with other goals since I’m constantly “behind” due to the daily nature of the goal. How do you deal with yours?

Thanks!

No i dont think you are weaseling out, I would however suggest that you:

  1. Create more reminders. Beeminder should not be your only reminder, Beeminder should only be your accountability partner. Use calendar, notifications and alarms for pill taking, drinking water or other goals. Attach goals to particular times, places and scenarios. Creating chains of actions if key to making a habit. Perhaps go with when i sit down to eat, I will drink a glass of water or after going to the loo i will do one push up.
  2. change the goal to give you leeway just in case you forget to enter your information, but you should aim to have your goal be do a goal and data entry that way it becomes your beeminder goal to enter the data.
  3. Look to automate your goals, with your goals of drinking 2L perhaps get one that has the drink such amount at a particular time or have a water drinking tracking app with automated entry with beeminder.
    With your pill taking try having a nfc tag attached to the box and whenever you have to take pills scan the tag which integrates with your beeminder.
  4. Create an end-of-day review goal where you review what you have done during the day and make sure all the goals are ticked off. This should be an hour or two before actual days end so you can complete any missed goals. This is also an important goal in any habit formation
    https://www.fastcompany.com/90446008/we-studied-the-best-way-to-actually-make-a-new-habit-stick
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They work for YOU. Please don’t forget that. This is your system for you to set up how you want.

Who cares whether they believe you? It doesn’t matter.

It’s up to you. You can define the goal however you want. Do you want to define it so that it counts if you do the task but don’t enter data? Or do you want to define it so that you have to enter data before the deadline? Either is fine. This is your commitment contract with yourself so you can set it up however you want.

Sometime people will choose a rate of 5 or 6 per week so that they can get ahead by doing it every day.

I do not agree with Zedmango, especially “Who cares whether they believe you? It doesn’t matter.”

Beeminder is here to help Now-you actually do the things you want to have done, rather than have Now-you postpone them and have Future-you do them. One of the primary ways this occurs on Beeminder is the Akrasia Horizon, where changing things like the required rate require a one-week “cooling off period” before they take effect. This is there to help Now-you from rationalizing not doing your thing.

Support, however, can bypass most things.

The human brain tends to treat different people dramatically different than how it thinks about itself. This has both upsides and downsides (think the Fundamental Attribution Error) but here, it’s an upside. Often a person will start to smell their own rationalization bullshit as soon as they even think about trying to explain their justification to another person. When folks contact support, they know that they’re talking to a real person and that a real person is looking at and thinking about the situation. This is extremely powerful here, and it is a strong component of the main way Beeminder provides value.

I strongly suspect that thinking of support this way is correlated with fewer successes and more frustration.

6 Likes

I think @bizzle is right on the money, and I have some other ideas.

I do not think that it is weaseling to non-legit something you did, but forgot to enter data on. I do think that if I repeatedly forget to enter data on a goal that it’s a problem to fix, and I treat it like any other problem and think about it and ask other people and come up with a solution and try it out.

When I have had repeated non-legit derails due to forgetting data, and it started to feel uncomfortable, I have committed in support to improve it. I have said things like “If I don’t check on this flaky homebrew script that enters the data again, and it derails, it is going to be legit!”

There are a few tricks I’ve done to handle goals that feel like a slog, whether they’re daily or not.

The first is to think about why it feels like a slog. Do you actually want to achieve the goal, or did you just think of it and commit yourself and now you don’t really want to do it anymore? For instance, my watercolor goal felt like a huge slog for more than a year. I loved painting, and I loved having my paintings, but I didn’t love deciding to paint on a night at the expense of other things. Once I thought about why I made the goal, about how I loved actually painting and I loved having my cool paintings and I loved how I was getting better and faster, the slog went away almost instantly, even though I had felt frustrated about this goal for a year! On the other hand, I beeminded working through a particular large textbook. It was a slog and just uuuugh every single time I touched it, and after reflecting on it, I realized that I didn’t really want to do it and I never really did! I realized that what I really wanted was for me to have already worked through this textbook, and that having done it 15 years ago would have made a few years in my past a lot easier. However, even now, I don’t really think it’s worth my current time to do it, even to prepare Future Me. I didn’t think through this when creating the goal, but because I wasn’t really in alignment with it, I felt a huge amount of friction.

A second trick, much shorter, is that if you do not need to do this every single day, but instead “would really like” to do this every single day, is to try giving yourself a 1 week break on this goal, and try to keep that goal up! I have had some daily goals become easier just by taking them off the edge! Weird, huh? This doesn’t work with every daily goal, but it does for some.

A third idea is an even stronger version of bizzle’s #1. Would this daily goal be better suited somewhere else? I love my Beeminder goals and it’s a crucial part of many of my successes over the past 5+ years, but if I put everything I could into it, it would be so overwhelming it would lose all value to me.

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Sure, that’s valuable, but if you actually are telling the truth, and not bullshitting, as @wissam124 is telling the truth, then why should you care if support secretly doubts you? That seems like unhelpful anxiety, as opposed to a helpful check on rationalizations.

I must not have gotten across what I was trying to get across.

I will continue to use the rate example. There are both valid and invalid reasons to adjust our rates immediately. We are not great at picking out which reasons are valid, and which are invalid. We often justify and rationalize reasons that are invalid into reasons that seem valid to us.

Sometimes, just thinking “Hey, I should go call someone and explain to them why this is a valid reason” makes us realize this is not a valid reason and we were tricking ourselves, because brains are weird that way.

Beeminder uses that weird-brain-thing to help you succeed in your goals, and thinking “Who cares whether [support] believe[s] you? It doesn’t matter” throws that away.

Your argument that “I only think that about support when I’m actually telling the truth” doesn’t seem helpful. First, it supposes that you can always tell when you are rationalizing things–which is certainly not true! Second, even assuming that could be true, thinking “who cares what support thinks” even when it’s “fine” reduces the power of the “accountability partner effect” when you could use it, when it could be useful.

If you have non-legit derails, call them non-legit, please! But saying “I don’t care what support thinks” harms one of the ways Beeminder helps you.

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Admin Note

This thread got ever so slightly contentious and since I rule with an iron fist and am paranoid about even tiny amounts of toxicity discouraging participation of our highest-quality contributors (which are amazingly high quality! and because small amounts of negativity can so easily snowball) I’ve deleted some of what to me seemed unproductive back-and-forth. I realize that’s a super frustrating feeling to be silenced like that and I’ve only done it a handful of times in all the years the forum has been around but, well, iron fist. It’s for the greater good, etc.

Of course worst of all for general forum quality is a tedious meta discussion about this in public so what I’m typing now is the last word. At most you can click :heart: on it but please don’t otherwise reply to this Admin Note, even to agree! If you want to post rebuttals, rejoinders, etc elsewhere, public or not, I will delightedly engage, but basically, Beeminder is not an open forum.

One last thing: @zedmango didn’t mean to imply that one shouldn’t care what support thinks. Communication is hard, etc. No one had any malice here, so I feel especially bad being all censoring [EDIT: and I’d like to apologize to @zedmango in particular!] but this forum is my baby and I’m shaping it the best I can. I intend to eventually formalize principles so this sort of thing doesn’t seem so capricious. In the meantime, I hereby declare Slate Star Codex’s comment policy (archived copy) to apply in full to the Beeminder forum. DM me with concerns!

PS: Let me also hereby commit to continue, whenever I do delete something, to copy what was deleted into a DM with the author so we can talk about it and figure out together what version of it would be ok to post publicly.

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