Successive Approximation With Fineprint?

I’ve got a goal for making a better bedtime habit. What I’d like to try is a method called “successive approximation” I start with a simple thing (take a mild sleep aid at a certain time each night) and gradually increase that over time.

The obvious solution would be to change my fine-print for each point I get, but this runs into a few issues. Specifically:

  1. Fine-print is not akrasia proof and I actually am akratic about it :frowning:
  2. There is no history of fineprint that I have access to, so I can’t follow my progress that way.

I guess I could do the “One task a day” trick and put in the required set of things for tomorrow the night before, but really, I’d love to have a week ahead akrasia horizon for changes to it, just like I do for numerical goals.

What is everyone elses thoughts?

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If you put your fine print in the comment of your daily data point, you would at least have a history. It’s not akrasia proof since you can edit your data points whenever, but you could at least watch it evolve over time.

If the variable part of your goal is a number (and not arbitrary prose) then you could even make it its own goal (so your first goal is to do what your approximation is and the second goal is to adjust the approximation over time).


Well, I tried this and it was a horrible, horrible failure. I ended up biting too much and spending $135 on this goal without coming close to creating the bedtime habit I wanted.

It seems that I am much more susceptible to planning fallacy/akrasia when it comes to fine print rather than the yellow brick road. Part of this is because I don’t get to see my past rate of “success” I think and part of it is I had 4 points a week so I wasn’t getting good reinforcement to make it a daily habit.

Since then I’ve changed my goal to be something I can do with no willpower and see how that goes for a while. I think I may also change the method so that each part of the habit is worth a “point” so the yellow brick road increases in steepness as I get better at the habit as well.

Any other thoughts would be appreciated!


maybe it’d be helpful to split apart the pieces of the desired routine into totally separate goals? so one goal for “computer off by 10pm,” one for “teeth brushed by 10:15,” one for “in bed by 10:30.” then you can see which ones are more difficult (or possibly not as valuable).

i have 3 goals for doing 3 different types of exercises, which i am liking more than one generic “workouts” goal. i know if i had a workouts goal, “walk down the street to cvs” (to buy chips) would become a “workout” eventually. in fact, i should create a couple more that i’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now.