I developed an addiction to weed when I was going through a really rough time getting out of an abusive relationship a few years ago. I don’t blame myself for it at the time, it was how I survived a miserable situation, but ever since then I have had trouble going back to moderation. I have definitely improved since working on it, but I still have more slip ups than I’d like and I’d really like to reach a goal of being sober from weed for 6 months straight. From some reading I’ve done, that would help re-set my brain if I could get there. But when 6 months of sobriety is my goal and I’m starting out, well, that is too hard a goal, I need baby steps. I managed 3 months sober last year, but then life kicked my ass and I fell off the wagon and haven’t even managed a full month sober since.
I posted somewhere about how I was using my YNAB budget to turn Beeminder into a positive reinforcement mechanism by funding my Beeminder Derailment category at the start of the month and then moving whatever is left to something on my wish list at the end of the month, which was a good idea, but the feedback time of a month is too slow, IMO; I need daily feedback, especially on this goal, which is my most important goal right now.
I realized that it’s all about setting up an incentive structure that brings my behavior within my own (long term me) control to some degree, to basically classically condition myself with a combination of carrots and sticks that I can engineer to best match my own weird nature and achieve my goals. And that it is worth spending money on this, even if I end up derailing, if it helps me in the long run, which I know it will if I do it right. So I’m going to look at the spending on derailment as as the price of learning how to tweak my incentives till I’m happy with my progress and not as a loss of money.
I have been using Habitica for a lot of goals, but since one of my main goals is to be sober that day and it’s only one of my many Dailies that I track in Beeminder, it gets lost in the weeds.
I just decided a great incentive structure for sobriety and I want to announce it publicly here so I don’t weasel out of it. See, I’m not a weasel as in liar, I don’t lie on my data. I’m just slightly akratic, but not too akratic in that, about a week ahead of when I think I might derail, I would change my settings and then just try to survive for a week more on my old settings, but I avoid being on edge of derailment because that stresses me out. I’ve never derailed because of that.
But, for this goal of being sober, I want to be on the edge, daily, because it’s important to me that I spend most of my days sober. I need to use incentives to do it, since apparently my willpower sucks on this goal, at least it’s not enough to get me where I want to be. So I made it a “do more” manual entry goal that I have to be sober that day or pay $5, daily, since I set it up to give me no buffer after I derail and started with 0 buffer. I wanted to announce this incentive structure here because I want to be publicly accountable to not change it. So if you come here and you see that I changed it, leave me a nasty message or something. Call me a stoner, a pot-head, whatever. Or something. I dunno, if having a stranger watching me work magically makes me so much more productive even without them putting any pressure on me (with Focusmate), hopefully having strangers watch my progress on this goal will also help me reach it, even without you harassing me when I’m not perfect.
Here’s my goal, it’s public, if anyone wants to cheer me on:
PhysicsGal’s Sobriety Goal
I’m hoping telling you all this will help me to keep up this incentive structure and not weasel out of it. I don’t want to be too crazy and push myself too much, that’s why I smoke weed, because I find it forces to to take a break from the constant activity and goal-seeking that my brain naturally wants me to do. That’s why my reward/carrot each day I’m sober will be that same $5 moving into my YNAB category for a yoga retreat, now that the local retreat in the mountains that I love is open again. And for every week I am sober I’m going to take a bad ass bath with a bath bomb, candles and some beautiful calming music, plus move a little extra money into my yoga retreat category also. I will come up with a nice reward for two weeks and one month too, I just have to think about it.
Thanks for listening to my rant. Here’s hoping this works well for me. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share them here.