How many of you have actually derailed? For how much?

I definitely had some pretty close calls, but even though I have no goals at more than 5 usd and could afford losing that with no consequences just the idea of wasting 5 dollars on nothing is enough to make me do the work.

Which means I get a ton of value out of beeminder (cause there is no way I would have done the work without that threat) without paying, which is not awesome for keeping beeminder around long-term.

So I became curious, how many of you have derailed?

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Actually derailed? Ha! Good for you, if risking $5 is enough to help you get to what’s important!

I think the highest fee I’ve paid out to Beeminder so far was $90, but I’ve done so 2-3 times. I’ve gotta have sent Beeminder several hundred USD over the past 2.5 years. And I am not exactly well-to-do.

I’ve had lots of derailing from poorly formulated goals, insufficiently thought out efforts. I didn’t follow the advice to use Beeminder as the nuclear option, to make sure I had support infrastructure down before I said yes to stuff.

I try to track incremental actions over outcomes. I run into problems underestimating work and complications leading to an outcome, and there have been times where I screwed myself over with multiple goals at the same time. Back when I was mostly Beeminding outcomes, I failed a lot, and I failed pretty hard.

The option of explicitly risking something every time has helped me rethink what I commit to, and why. It also provides a series of successive reality checks–I might think I can commit to something, as part of some larger plan. But if so, I should really be willing to bet on it.

I’ve had a few “Do X amount of work per day on this”, and those have blown up in my face, because I hadn’t sat down and thought about what it would take to make that commitment. What would I have to give up? How would I need to restructure my schedule? Losing $5, $10, $15, $30 really drove home that maybe this really wasn’t a fluke that day. It’s helped me acknowledge that I really do struggle with stuff, and that it’s worth it to take a very earnest and explicit approach to getting the important things right. (Which means: stop freaking relying on intuitions I don’t have, and do the calculations.)

It’s also helped me to see when I’ve underestimated the complexity/difficulty of changing a particular behavior. It’s helped me see where my blind spots are–where I can’t just rely on my intuitions like everyone else seems to do. I’d really prefer to lose less and less money this way, but so far I’ve found this helpful feedback.

So: I think that sums up the unique things I’ve gotten out of using Beeminder!


I thought this recently as well, I’ve done SOOO much just at the “risk” of losing 5 dollars. (I’m yet to actually derail when a pledge is on the line)

I’m a subscriber so I guess that alleviates my personal issues with the problem, but hey, if everyone gets amazing value out of Beeminder that’s likely to help generate some “Buzz” around Beeminder right?

I have derailed a couple of times on different goals. It seems like $30 is enough to motivate me. I am afraid of letting it get higher because I fear that I might cheat if I had to pay $90 for derailing, so I set a pledge cap to $30.

The last time I derailed was because I didn’t play violin this monday. I don’t mind derailing on that goal because I spend around $200 on violin lessons every semester, and before I started beeminding my practice I would usually be so unprepared that it felt like I was wasting my money.

I just tried doing the math on the legitimacy check emails, and as far as I can tell I have paid $80 on derailments in total.

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You can check out to see a history of all the pledges you’ve paid out :smile:


Thanks for the pointer! I’ve started beeminding around mid August and have paid out 50$ in pledges. So far I feel that I’m definitely doing my own to keep BM afloat, but that its been wonderful value for money.

Breaking that down, I see that for my three most successful goals, of walking more, swimming more and cleaning the kitchen more often, I’ve paid out a total of 5$. I consider those to have been great value because these are activities that are important to me but I have completely failed to make adequate progress on pre-BM.

More than half my payout has been for a very important goal (finishing my PhD thesis); more than half due to mismanaging it in the beginning (using a goal for hours AND a goal for todo’s ticked off). So far I find the latter type very hard to use: I hardly ever set up sufficient small goals. So I end up in beemergencies, with only too-large goals. Then breaking down a goal on the same day to the level I can definitely finish it today and ticking it off, or even in desperation looking back, finding a few definite, significant enough things I’ve done and creating goals just to tick them off… feels too close to cheating, so I wouldn’t do it, and derailed. If anyone has had good luck with the “must do”, some detail on how you do the planning process would be a great thread.

Recently I’ve learned to dial back what I can’t really commit to, and really focus on what must happen, and just suck up the pain when for example I really have to swim today but can’t find my swimsuit.

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I managed to go my first ~4 months without derailing, but at some point life started getting difficult and I started derailing. This was sortof a useful experience - I was originally worried that beeminder was only working for me because of a “don’t break the chain” thing but it seems to have kept working OK with a constant low level of derailing. It has forced me to reassess my capabilities and ditch some goals where I decided they genuinely weren’t worth the effort though. I haven’t had any derails over $10 but I also only have one goal set above $10 (my coffee consumption). I haven’t found $10 significantly more motivating than $5 though - both are under the threshold where if I really can’t be bothered to put in the effort to complete the goal it’s probably not going to be enough to motivate me.

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Registered in October and have derailed 3 times already.

To be honest, I have gained no boost whatsoever. In fact my performance has been worse than ever (although it was already sliding that way and probably what drove me to register).

Aww! That’s no good! Standard doctrine is to ride the pledge schedule until derailing is wholly out of the question. I.e., find your Motivation Point. I’d love to hear if you feel like that’s not realistic. It does happen that people feel it’s a catch-22 – if the amount of money is scary enough to be motivating then it’s also too scary to dial the road to a meaningful steepness. Possible inspiration: The Type Bee Personality.

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Yes, that’s the area where I have definitely learnt a lot from using Beeminder too. I think you start off thinking that Beeminder can be a magic wand that will make you do anything, and when a couple of things work out well like that you add a load more things that you would quite like to achieve. But then you realise that by deciding “actually I’d rather pay up that do that right now” you are figuring out how to channel your limited energy into the things you think are most worthwhile.

I hadn’t spotted the pledge listing page before: Quickly eyeballing it, over 18+ months, I think I have had 18 $5 derailments, 10 $10 derailments, 3 $30 derailments and 1 $90 derailment (which is interesting in that I’ve paid about the same amount at each level of pledge, mathematical models obviously run even deeper in my blood than hitherto suspected!).

As time goes on I’m realising that making the yellow brick road quite easy on myself and trying to stay ahead of it for a long time is more worthwhile to me than sitting around and then making myself work crazily hard at the last minute. I guess I have just figured out the hare and the tortoise story for myself…