Beeminder Forum

Mulligans are awesome, actually

The most recent Beeminder blog post contains a rant against mulligans, but I think it’s missing something really important. Though that blog post is not wrong in its complaints; it’s also entirely within the spirit of Beeminder to take a mulligan—so long as you are willing to pay for the privilege.

The problem is with free mulligans, not with mulligans in general. If you derail, well, that’s too bad, but you pick yourself up and try again after perhaps a short break. i.e. you get a mulligan! You didn’t fail, not in any permanent way; instead, you have a chance to try again.

Once upon a time Beeminder didn’t work this way: if you failed, you failed, no mulligans. If you wanted to keep at the goal you needed to restart it. That was, in retrospect, a terrible idea: it amounted to nudging people who derailed into giving up on their goals, the exact opposite of what they should be doing—taking the mulligan and starting over.

When you derail, consider the money you pay the fee you’re paying for the mulligan: you don’t get away scot-free, but you do get another bite at the apple, another chance to succeed at your goal. Derailing Is Not Failing—rather it’s a fee paid for continued awesomeness.


Ah, I love this point! I actually intended it to be part of my anti-mulligans diatribe. Namely item 2 in the Mulligans subsection. But I think your point is that that changes it from an anti-mulligans rant to a “here’s how Beeminder implements mulligans” non-rant. I like your version much better than mine!

I guess I was so annoyed by the study backing up the mulligans claim that I stupidly framed it all argumentatively.

(Meta request for @zzq)

(Actually, @zzq, could I twist your arm to paste this in as a blog comment as well? I’m hoping Milkman herself will see the post and she’s a bit more likely to see your point there. But I can also add a comment myself quoting you or pointing to this thread. Thanks again for making this key point!)

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I strongly dislike Disqus, and would prefer not to interact with it if at all possible. But feel free to quote my post, link to this thread, or whatever else along those lines.

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You’re welcome.