Optimal Number of Goals

I am curious if there is an optimal number (or range of numbers) of goals to have? I’m considering making more but I don’t want to get overwhelmed. Thoughts? Observations?


I think that depends entirely on things like your personality, what kind of goals you have, what your life and schedule are like, etc. Also, in my experience, becoming overwhelmed has a lot less to do with the absolute number of goals than it does with the way in which you add them. I suggest adding just one goal at a time. Write down all the goals you think you might want to add, and pick the most important. Add it (with a conservative rate) and try it for a week to see how it goes. Then you can think about also adding another goal, and so on. I wouldn’t try to add more than one goal per week, to give yourself time to discover what is or isn’t actually realistic, and to figure out how to adjust your life to accommodate the new goals.


+1 to everything @byorgey said. I burned myself out on Beeminder by creating a bazillion goals all at once.


I guess it depends on the person, what type of goals they have, and the time commitment each one takes. Me personally, I have created a 6 goal rule for myself. After that, I tend to lose focus and become more akratic. I don’t include “easy” goals in that count though, or goals that have been ingrained as habit thanks to Beeminder :smile: .

Beeminder is really good at making you accomplish feats that would be impossible for the akratic version of yourself, which makes the concentrating/specializing even more satisfying. If I spread myself out, I either have to dial the road of other goals down accordingly. or more commonly, risk derailing more often. Motivation killer or lost money.

That’s my personal preference though; other people’s brains might function differently. :sweat_smile:

Also, a relavent blog post: http://blog.beeminder.com/burnout/


From several months of beeminding, I discovered I am okay with about 24 goals in the frontburner. Moreover, I try to keep the number of those due within a week (with days of week, not number of days written on the graph) within the amount of how many are visible on the page at once (15, in the case of my browser and my screen). However, I am looking forward to several goals ending in a week or so. That’ll be a relief. (And an opportunity to create new goals :slight_smile: )
But definitely these numbers are highly dependent on the person and on the goals. Most of my goals are things “easy to do but difficult to remember”, so checking them out is easy. Other ones are things I do anyway and just like to track the progress. And only few are things that I should work hard to keep up with the due amount suggested by beeminder, or have to plan something special because it’s the due date.


Another factor is the ease of updating; the more that you can automate, the more you can focus on the doing and not on the admin.

I asked myself a similar question a couple of years ago, and this blog post was the result of my analysis and thinking.

My current count is 29 on the front burner, 4 of which are beemergencies today.


@philip Really great blog post!


I think maybe that depends more on the type of goals than the actual number. I have a scale goal, which literally requires me to do nothing more than stand on my wifi scale - the rest is automatic (there is not exactly a goal weight, I just need to stay on top of how much I do weight). Having tens of such goals a day is easy.

However I also have a get 10k steps so many days a week goal - that could potentially take me more than an hour to get from nothing to 10k on an eep day. Too many of these goals and I will go crazy.


and just to explicitly state the probably-obvious - whether you end up with 25 goals or 5 goals, don’t be afraid to dial roads down or even archive the less-important if things start feeling unmanageable!

anecdote: i was pushing 30 a few months ago, and it was fine… then my life/work seriously ramped up. now i’m down to ~15, ~10 of which need regular attention, and that’s okay - i had to prioritize to keep going. when (okay, if) seas are calmer, i can restart what i’ve put on hold for now. better to continue half my goals then burn out & give up on all of them :slight_smile:


Love this thread! Here’s @nepomuk arguing for an answer of 9:

1 Like