Laws of Beeminder Life

  1. The more you procrastinate creating a goal, the more you really need it

Post your own :slight_smile:

  1. Continuous goals are better than one-off ones.

Not sure if this one is in the spirit, but it’s unambiguously true, at least for everyone serious, and must sound so counterintuitive to the uninitiated:

  1. The more money you pay Beeminder, the more progress toward your goals you’re making.

PS: The reason has to do with the fact that if you’re never derailing it tends to mean your goal is set unambitiously enough that you’re pretty much doing what you’d do with or without Beeminder. If you’re derailing, especially at higher amounts of money, then it means two things: (1) unless your derailments are in constant and rapid succession (and in that case, you’d quit!) then the rest of the time Beeminder is pushing you to accomplish more than you would’ve, and (2) given that you haven’t quit, you must’ve decided that what you accomplish because of Beeminder is worth more than the derailments cost.

  1. The more you beemind, the more you beemind. (BEEMIND ALL THE THINGS! AND THAT NEW THING! AND THIS THING I JUST THOUGHT OF!)

Corollary of Law 4:
The more commitments you beemind the easier it is to keep track of them because you develop more consistent habits for checking and data entry

  1. Goals with automatic data entry are drastically more effective than manual ones.
  1. Keep your graphs simple.[*]

[*] Mostly linear with a long-term realistic slope.


if you’re never derailing it tends to mean your goal is set unambitiously enough that you’re pretty much doing what you’d do with or without Beeminder

I happen to have a counterexample, which is my duolingo goal.

Beeminder for that goal is literally reminder with a sting. I’d probably forget about that it not for my two days’ salary riding on it.

Granted, it is not a good goal - I could do way more than it demands and also at this point it’s not really efficient, but I’m reluctant to mess with that goal until I’ve established something better in its place.


I agree there are counterexamples. Like some people are able to more viscerally appreciate the slippery slope or something and feel immense motivation to hew to an ambitious yellow brick road even from the start, with little or no money actually at risk yet.

But in your case your last paragraph sounds like it’s making my point! You have a high pledge and are never derailing, but at the cost of an unambitious goal. I guess you’re saying that that’s still a big win since you’d let it lapse altogether without Beeminder.

In any case, I’m making a statistical claim: on average, the more someone pays Beeminder, the more progress Beeminder is inducing in that person’s life. For some people there’s just no correlation either way because Beeminder induces lots of awesomeness with very little money ever being involved. So that’s fine. And in the rare cases where the correlation is reversed – sticking one’s head in the sand and repeatedly derailing everything – things are about to blow up and that person is going to quit. We even have a deadman switch so that you won’t keep paying us indefinitely if you’re not even submitting data.

In conclusion, as long as you stay engaged, paying Beeminder more correlates with more productivity, more fitness, more [*] whatever it is you’re beeminding!

[*] Where by more we mean less in the case of do-less goals, of course.

Interesting discussion. For me, not failing, while not straying to far above the road, means I’ve got a fairly accurate view of the world. I find Beeminder tremendously useful to ensuring I juggle and keep various ongoing commitments to myself and others, and I want a good map of how well I can do that. As I add more things for it to track, I feel better about how I’m doing in the world. But I very rarely derail. Does this mean I’ve set unambitious goals? Well not in general: my physio has set a certain number of exercises to do each day, so I do them (and beemind it). I want to meditate almost every day, so I have a goal of 6.5 times a week - sure, I could push that to 7, but I know there are occasionally good reasons why I miss, so I realistically have to account for them. That;s just a good accounting of how the world is, it seems to me.

Maybe I should conclude that I could do with some more ambitious goals to push me in new areas?

I would say that I have subscribed to Premium because I found Beeminder to be very useful, and want to reward the creators, and know this doesn’t happen unless I derail or subscribe. So maybe I’m still someone who pays a lot to Beeminder, just in another way?

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I always assumed manual entries are more effective since we are conscious when doing so. Can you explain why you think automatic data entries are more effective?

Well, for me at least, I tend to be pretty forgetful, and if I ever even slightly worry that I’ve forgotten to add a data point, it gets me distrusting the graph, which makes me less likely to be influenced by the force of it. Also the more manual goals you’re updating, the more overhead they require and the more of a slog it feels to just get through your daily admin work. I have a few manual goals, but I can really focus my attention on them because the rest of my goals are automatic, and they more or less take care of themselves (providing I’m getting the relevant tasks done). I wish I could track more things automatically, because I think I would be able to handle more goals that way, with less doubt about whether I might have messed up the data and less frustration at having to spend time doing it.

  1. think before you commit
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More automation = less chances of cheating yourself