New here! Setting up cheat-proof goals?


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!


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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.


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?


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?


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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