Should Beeminder support cancelling bad goals?

I’ve run into a similar problem before. I’ve found that my general
"productive on personal (ie. non-work) things" goal is good, but it’s too
broad. I can easily find enough productive things to do in order to avoid
something particularly horrible (immigration paperwork, taxes, you get the
idea). So I set up specific goals for those side projects, demanding a
smaller amount of progress on them each week, and Beeminder ensures they
keep moving forward.

That works well until the point when the goal is finished: the project is
done, immigration package is sent off, etc. Then the goal is complete and
no longer relevant, but there’s no real way to capture it in Beeminder.
I’ve done a different solution than you describe, though. I added a massive
data point, enough to finish the full year’s worth of the goal. Then it
automatically archives itself.

There should be a better way to cancel the goal, but I agree it is exposing
"weasel attack surface", so to speak.

Braden

On Tue Jan 14 2014 at 3:52:28 PM, Jose josediazseng@gmail.com wrote:

Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals I
would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not too
happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply the
relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad taste
but I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder goal.
Now, at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even do it
if I got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one week’s
worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does not
feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José


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Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals I
would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not too
happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply the
relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad taste
but I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder goal.
Now, at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even do it
if I got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one week’s
worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does not
feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José

Nick Winter touched on this in “The Motivation Hacker”. He wrote: “If you
find yourself where I was, wondering whether it’s okay to abandon a goal,
then think thoroughly. The pain of having to finish a bad goal is often a
fair price for the lesson on picking your goals. It’s better to strengthen
the habit of finishing goals, good and bad, than to cultivate the habit of
quitting when it gets hard.” This ties into the idea of success spirals.
(Although he did abandon the goal he was writing about.)

On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 10:52 PM, Jose josediazseng@gmail.com wrote:

Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals I
would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not too
happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply the
relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad taste
but I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder goal.
Now, at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even do it
if I got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one week’s
worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does not
feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José


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"Akratics Anonymous" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an
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"The pain of having to finish a bad goal is often a fair price for the
lesson on picking your goals."
That works well with Beeminder’s one-week akrasia horizon. When you
realise that your goal is no longer good for you, adjust the finish
date to be one week in the future. You keep working on that goal for a
week and then it’s over. It provides a short lesson about picking
goals carefully, doesn’t allow you to learn the habit of abandoning
goals quickly, and it also gives you a few days to reconsider - a new
end date will give you a change in perspective and you might find that
you’re feeling regret or disappointment, which means the goal perhaps
needs to be adjusted rather than abandoned.

On 15 January 2014 07:56, Adam Mesha araizen@gmail.com wrote:

Nick Winter touched on this in “The Motivation Hacker”. He wrote: “If you
find yourself where I was, wondering whether it’s okay to abandon a goal,
then think thoroughly. The pain of having to finish a bad goal is often a
fair price for the lesson on picking your goals. It’s better to strengthen
the habit of finishing goals, good and bad, than to cultivate the habit of
quitting when it gets hard.” This ties into the idea of success spirals.
(Although he did abandon the goal he was writing about.)

On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 10:52 PM, Jose josediazseng@gmail.com wrote:

Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals I
would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not too
happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply the
relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad taste but
I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder goal. Now,
at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even do it if I
got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one week’s
worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does not
feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José


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"Akratics Anonymous" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an
email to akratics+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
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The way I feel is exactly the opposite from the OP. I often wish I were
able to disable the archive+delete that’s available in the first week. I
like that it’s there while I’m creating and setting up my goal (cause I
sometimes tweak my goals into brokenness when I’m first setting them up, so
deleting them is necessary), but once I’m sure that’s done, I wish I could
click an “okay, now don’t let me rage-quit from here forward” button to
stop me from giving up on the goal on day 6 if I get lazy.

Though, for goals that really get screwed up for some reason or another, or
in the OP’s case, I would probably go crying to support. I wonder if they
should help, though. It’s not like we’re forced to keep the goals
forever, just for another week. I wouldn’t go as far as Nick Winter’s
"finish the goal" thing, but the week forced by the akrasia horizon seems
like lesson enough. (But at the time, begging support would still be my
go-to hehe).

I’ve also had the “uh-oh, this project is done but beeminder still wants me
to do more hours” problem. We talked about it a little
here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/akratics/projects/akratics/Q_zG0xjQnWU/R00pAPAeLmgJ

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014 5:05:12 PM UTC-5, Alys wrote:

"The pain of having to finish a bad goal is often a fair price for the
lesson on picking your goals."
That works well with Beeminder’s one-week akrasia horizon. When you
realise that your goal is no longer good for you, adjust the finish
date to be one week in the future. You keep working on that goal for a
week and then it’s over. It provides a short lesson about picking
goals carefully, doesn’t allow you to learn the habit of abandoning
goals quickly, and it also gives you a few days to reconsider - a new
end date will give you a change in perspective and you might find that
you’re feeling regret or disappointment, which means the goal perhaps
needs to be adjusted rather than abandoned.

On 15 January 2014 07:56, Adam Mesha <ara...@gmail.com <javascript:>>
wrote:

Nick Winter touched on this in “The Motivation Hacker”. He wrote: “If
you
find yourself where I was, wondering whether it’s okay to abandon a
goal,
then think thoroughly. The pain of having to finish a bad goal is often
a
fair price for the lesson on picking your goals. It’s better to
strengthen
the habit of finishing goals, good and bad, than to cultivate the habit
of
quitting when it gets hard.” This ties into the idea of success spirals.
(Although he did abandon the goal he was writing about.)

On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 10:52 PM, Jose <josedi...@gmail.com<javascript:>>
wrote:

Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals
I

would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not
too

happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply
the

relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad
taste but

I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder goal.
Now,

at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even do it if
I

got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one
week’s

worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does
not

feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José


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Groups

“Akratics Anonymous” group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send
an

email to akratics+u...@googlegroups.com <javascript:>.
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Groups
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Thank you all for your very considerate comments!

I also liked “The Motivation Hacker” a lot and in general I think Nick
Winter is right about finishing even bad goals. It’s just that after
punishing myself already for a week by sticking to the goal, I can say that
I am not casually dropping it and I think I have learned a lesson, i.e. to
at least skim a book next time before committing to set a goal for reading
it, no matter what everybody else is saying about the book or how much I am
interested in its subject.

Braden, I <3 the “weasel attack surface” concept

Jose, a hack you might find worthwhile:

  1. Adjust the goal date to just a week out, as Alys suggested, for all the
    reasons Alys outlined
  2. Mentally rewrite the goal to “maximize the value extracted from this
    book in this last week” (much easier if its a time-per-day goal, not a
    pages-per-day goal)

When I was a kid and too poor to buy the technical books I wanted, it
occurred to me that I only retain about 20% of a book’s specifics after a
few months, so it would be much more efficient to
replace “reading” with the functionally equivalent “process that uploads to
my long-term memory approximately the same knowledge I would retain if I
read every word of a book in order”. Then I would go to the bookstore and
do that in the store. Now I read all books starting with the preface, ToC,
and index (which leaks, with maximum efficiency, what the book considers
most important, as well as how concepts map against the structure of the
chapters… ymmv but being able to map conceptual relationships lowers the
mental encoding energy for the concepts, so if you’re like me you can
vacuum up knowledge faster by building the map of concept blobs and only
THEN mastering the concepts… weird but true, though maybe dependent on
high working memory (thus distraction-free focus)).

Then the last week then becomes a game, which might make it less of a
punishment.

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, Braden Shepherdson wrote:

I’ve run into a similar problem before. I’ve found that my general
"productive on personal (ie. non-work) things" goal is good, but it’s too
broad. I can easily find enough productive things to do in order to avoid
something particularly horrible (immigration paperwork, taxes, you get the
idea). So I set up specific goals for those side projects, demanding a
smaller amount of progress on them each week, and Beeminder ensures they
keep moving forward.

That works well until the point when the goal is finished: the project is
done, immigration package is sent off, etc. Then the goal is complete and
no longer relevant, but there’s no real way to capture it in Beeminder.
I’ve done a different solution than you describe, though. I added a massive
data point, enough to finish the full year’s worth of the goal. Then it
automatically archives itself.

There should be a better way to cancel the goal, but I agree it is
exposing “weasel attack surface”, so to speak.

Braden

On Tue Jan 14 2014 at 3:52:28 PM, Jose <josediazseng@gmail.com<javascript:_e({}, ‘cvml’, ‘josediazseng@gmail.com’);>>
wrote:

Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals I
would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not too
happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply the
relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad taste
but I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder goal.
Now, at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even do it
if I got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one week’s
worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does not
feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José


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Michael, this sounds like a good approach, I will give it a try next time
or even better do it before(!) creating a beeminder task of working through
a book in depth.
Am 15.01.2014 01:16 schrieb “Michael J.J. Tiffany” <
michael.tiffany@gmail.com>:

Braden, I <3 the “weasel attack surface” concept

Jose, a hack you might find worthwhile:

  1. Adjust the goal date to just a week out, as Alys suggested, for all the
    reasons Alys outlined
  2. Mentally rewrite the goal to “maximize the value extracted from this
    book in this last week” (much easier if its a time-per-day goal, not a
    pages-per-day goal)

When I was a kid and too poor to buy the technical books I wanted, it
occurred to me that I only retain about 20% of a book’s specifics after a
few months, so it would be much more efficient to
replace “reading” with the functionally equivalent “process that uploads to
my long-term memory approximately the same knowledge I would retain if I
read every word of a book in order”. Then I would go to the bookstore and
do that in the store. Now I read all books starting with the preface, ToC,
and index (which leaks, with maximum efficiency, what the book considers
most important, as well as how concepts map against the structure of the
chapters… ymmv but being able to map conceptual relationships lowers the
mental encoding energy for the concepts, so if you’re like me you can
vacuum up knowledge faster by building the map of concept blobs and only
THEN mastering the concepts… weird but true, though maybe dependent on
high working memory (thus distraction-free focus)).

Then the last week then becomes a game, which might make it less of a
punishment.

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, Braden Shepherdson wrote:

I’ve run into a similar problem before. I’ve found that my general
"productive on personal (ie. non-work) things" goal is good, but it’s too
broad. I can easily find enough productive things to do in order to avoid
something particularly horrible (immigration paperwork, taxes, you get the
idea). So I set up specific goals for those side projects, demanding a
smaller amount of progress on them each week, and Beeminder ensures they
keep moving forward.

That works well until the point when the goal is finished: the project is
done, immigration package is sent off, etc. Then the goal is complete and
no longer relevant, but there’s no real way to capture it in Beeminder.
I’ve done a different solution than you describe, though. I added a massive
data point, enough to finish the full year’s worth of the goal. Then it
automatically archives itself.

There should be a better way to cancel the goal, but I agree it is
exposing “weasel attack surface”, so to speak.

Braden

On Tue Jan 14 2014 at 3:52:28 PM, Jose josediazseng@gmail.com wrote:

Hi,

I am a very happy user of Beeminder and have already reached some goals
I would not have managed otherwise. But today something happened I am not
too happy about. One of my goals was to read a programming book (and apply
the relevant things to my work). The first pages already left some bad
taste but I tried to force me to work through it by setting up a beeminder
goal. Now, at page 255 of 618, I cannot longer stand it. I could not even
do it if I got paid 150$ to do so.

I have already paid money to Beeminder and did not weasel out once, but
this time it’s different: I found out the goal isn’t worthwile and I am
better off investing my effort elsewhere. Therefore I submitted one week’s
worth of pages read and archived the goal to close it off, which does not
feel nice after all.

I know it may be a dangerous thing but wouldn’t it make sense to allow
cancelling goal immediately in exceptional cases? What’s your opinion?

José


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