Beeminder Forum

New here! Setting up cheat-proof goals?

Hello,

I’m looking to use beeminder and historically I respond well to reporting my own progress against myself. However I have a concern if money is on the line:

What’s to stop me from just… saying I achieved whatever it is I want to achieve?

Right now if I were to create any goals for myself it would be:

  1. Lose 0.5 - 2 lbs a week
  2. Write 500 - 1000 words a day of creative writing.

For weight loss I think I’ve got it covered. I have a Fitbit Aria 2 - as long as I make sure I stand on the scales every day (which I can do), then we’re good to go. But what about writing? What about other goals I may come up with in the future?

I know there’s integration into certain apps that let you write, but if it gets to 11:58pm and I need to write 1000 words by midnight, what’s to stop me from copy and pasting from the nearest wikipedia page?

Any advice on this would be much appreciated!

:slight_smile:

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This might not be the most satisfying answer but without requiring another person to check your work there isn’t really a way to determine what you wrote is meaningful.

As a broader philosophic principle, though, I think there’s generally no way to cheatproof all your Beeminder goals. The system relies on the fact that, when not making akratic short term decisions, you really do want to do these things and thus you’ll hold yourself accountable on some level if you broke the terms of your commitment. It’s easier, I think, to good naturedly put something off or come up with excuses than it is to deliberately lie when you know you agreed to pay Beeminder money if you didn’t meet your goals.

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Thanks for responding. :slight_smile:

Hmm. I think I agree; as an individual I know that I am able to report my progress by any metric on a daily basis. I’ve been making my own charts and tables to stick about my bedroom that have been doing just that for around 10 years now. Broadly speaking I can stick to them too. However it used to be that I attached a lot of emotional weight to the idea of being honest about “the heart” of my goals - if it were to meditate, I wouldn’t call listening to a meditation tape whilst doing something else “completing it”.

The issue sort of arose most recently when I ended up on a 100 - 200+ day streak of completing an objective. By that point I was too emotionally invested into the idea of succeeding each and every single day that I’d rather break the moral code of not-lying on my progress sheets than break the 100 - 200+ day streak.

Ultimately I think the way forward is going to be to perhaps find the goals where cheating is more effort than not cheating. I have no idea how to cheat a weighing scales on a daily basis. Likewise I’d have no idea how to cheat a step-counter. If I only ever use Beeminder to lean into the goals that I don’t know how to cheat on, that’s still a good way of doing it. I do agree with your sentiment - it’s easier to put something off in good nature than it is to deliberately lie about it, and lying does actually make me feel bad. If I do a bit of digging on the blog and forums and/or play around with using it as is, hopefully I’ll find a meaningful way of getting it to help me meet my writing goals.

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Y’know! It just occurred to me that if your writing project is something you can have be public facing on the internet you could always use URLMinder and post on here the link to the project, knowing that anyone could look at it and call your bluff if they wanted. That potential peer-check might help?

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You want this to work. And buying (!) into being honest, to yourself, and to Beeminder is how you can guarantee to make this work.
In moments of temptation remind yourself how important it was (and is) to you to have a tool that works.
And you know how to 100% guarantee its function: By admitting you missed your goal for that day. By coughing up the money you put on the line. This is how you ensure its integrity.

After being on board for a few months now I really got to appreciate this reassurance. So much that to me it’s worth being “unnecessarily” harsh on myself sometimes. Have there been instances where I could have done with being easy on me and keep my money? Perhaps. I do not know for sure.
What I do know for sure is that I rather pay a few bucks extra and know it’s working vs. maybe save a few and risk losing Beeminder’s power.

Also you wouldn’t lie to your journal, would you?

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Hey - thanks! I’m not sure if I could bear to have my specific creative writing on URLMinder, but I didn’t particularly know about the existence of it until you’d mentioned it. There are certainly other things I would quite like to do - e.g. I’m supposed to do 10 - 30+ minutes of speech training every day. I’d not be adverse to using the URLMinder for that, nor would I mind it for uploading notes I’m meant to be taking on university. Thanks for the advice!

I think that’s a really powerful way of looking at it. I’ve been keeping charts in my room for basically 10 years and I always knew that the moment I stopped telling the truth on them would be the moment they lost their “power”. Unfortunately for me after a long enough time I began getting a bit wishy-washy and began to do certain things because they were in the chart, which meant I’d do the bare minimum to pass.

I think it’s still worth me remembering that even getting to the point where I was using the charts every day took long enough, but once I had, I always self-reported. I’m already at the point where, even if I were to set up a goal tomorrow, I’d self-report no matter what.

Beeminder is, in essence, another way of doing those charts. I don’t know if I’d start to chicken out the moment I was losing money, but if I were to remind myself that the moment I did do that would also be the moment I’d be finding a way out of a really helpful tool, then perhaps I’d be more less likely to stick at it.

In either case I think the route for me right now is to try to use beeminder for the next few days/ weeks/ months to get used to the programme and to figure out where I’m going with it. Once I’ve gotten a bit settled (even if it’s just by sticking to things I know I can’t cheat on), I can set myself to course correct on the areas I’m struggling with. Thanks for the advice!

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Clarissa’s totally right that this makes it extra powerful, but I also wanted to point out that URLminder works for private documents too! See the footnote on our post about beeminding one’s writing.

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Thanks for articulating another reason that the Seinfeld hack isn’t good for longterm goals. We hadn’t considered the possibility of cheating when we wrote that blog post!

Part of managing your Beeminder goals is walking that line between motivated-to-do-it vs motivated-to-weasel. So that temptation is not going to go away entirely…

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