Hi! Thanks for mentioning you were confused about it – it’s always valuable to hear about this kind of thing!
This constraint is called the “akrasia horizon”, which you can read more about in the help docs. It’s based on a study which found people making decisions about their next week’s shopping are better able to make decisions which align with their long-term goals. When they have to make decisions about grocery shopping for this week, they buy more ice cream; when they have to make decisions about next week’s shopping, they buy more vegetables.
Making this period a week rather than 2-3 days is a bit of guesswork, but it’s guesswork that has been borne out by years of running Beeminder this way. When people have to plan their breaks at least a week in advance, they’re better able to ensure that taking a break on that goal really aligns with their long-term goals. It’s easy for me to think right now that taking a break on my studying goal tomorrow and on Wednesday will be fine, but if I’m thinking about it in terms of planning a day off next week, then I’m putting it into a longer-term context and thinking “oh, a break next week is pretty much in February already, and taking a break then will cut into the time I have for doing my assignment”… and I stick to the one-day break I need rather than the three-day break I want.
The ideal akrasia horizon quite possibly varies between different people, but that really complicates the code, the UI, the documentation and the support burden… so an adjustable akrasia horizon is something that may happen in future if we think of an elegant way to do it and there actually seems to be demand for it. (There is some, but more often there’s just confusion where people didn’t realise this limitation existed; there are folks who claim they don’t experience akrasia at all, but I’m sceptical that that’s broadly true across all their goals – human perceptions of ourselves are famously self-serving, and not always in the good-for-us kinda way.)
As far as a workaround goes, there isn’t one. Beeminder’s a commitment contract that’s intended to lock you in within that akrasia horizon, so you can’t just quit on the spur of the moment. That said, when an emergency comes up and you’re not able to do the goal, you can contact email@example.com to explain the situation, and we’ll take a look and figure out with you the best way to handle it.
Other than that, some people have other ways of dealing with it; I keep extra safety buffer on my goals, for example, and a number of folks have a ‘calendial’ goal to help them remember to put breaks in well in advance.
Does that help and illuminate things at all? Eager to hear your thoughts!