The Glorious November by aard

I have plans for November - I want to increase the value I get out of Beeminder.

I’ll do that here for a little extra accountability. Perhaps I even get some inspiration from you folks.

Background

Beeminder works very well for me for some goals but not for others. While I’m fine with this in general, I had some goals that I really wanted to get working well, but didn’t manage.

So that’s what I’ll be busy in November.

November?

I had a small success with the “fresh start effect” in October. I want to see if it will repeat.

I also don’t want this topic to feel like I need to keep it alive forever.

Meta goal

As is customary, this all starts with a meta goal.

That brings me to… I won’t link to any of my goals. My Beeminder username reveals my identity a little bit too loudly :expressionless:

I’ve committed to 2 posts/week, starting now:
image

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Autodata works

Autodata works very well for me.

I’ve become a runner partially thanks to Beeminder-Strava integration.

I initially started tracking my running duration:

Prior to March 2020, I was still upset at the expensive running shoes I didn’t use enough. (I bought the shoes in 2015 with my first significant income.)

Come January 2022, I had logged about 40 hours. In the first 10 months of 2022, I already 31 hours. I hit my goal for 2022. I also had many enjoyable runs, personal bests, even a very strong runner high.

This has been my most successful goal. It’s also the one that I’ve been most consistent on.

Several aspects of the goal

“I want to increase my running duration.” approach to “I want to stay healthy.” worked initially very well.

I set my running goal for 2022 as 31 hours. 2022 started like this:

Quickly I arrived at the idea that 31 hours/year was ridiculously low! Later, I ended up with segments on this graph with 88 hours/year regions. What a poor judgement in January, I thought.

So I created another goal, tracking number of times I’m running per week.

So now you know what facilitated the great start of the duration goal :slight_smile: And notice I didn’t pay Beeminder much (initially), focusing on the number of times helped enough.

I’m currently at 44 hours/year. Still more a more ambitious rate than the initial. I’d like to stick to it, but I won’t hesitate to dial it down. I already hit my goal.

So now I approach “I want to stay healthy.” from “I should go out and run more frequently.”

Road ahead

In the period where I got overly ambitious, I paid “a lot of” money to Beeminder.

Part of that cost definitely translated into more runs (or running hours) so I can justify as gym membership + “cost of running on a treadmill”.

The other part made me realise I got stuck again. The new approach wasn’t able to sustain my ambition. In that period, I noticed I enjoy particular runs way more than others.

For instance, cycling out of city to run on a trail by a small river felt much nicer. This then became “running out of city”. Then I added “reaching that farm where they have great bread” or “go for the quiet corner to take a calm dip in the river in the summer”. (I ended up running the longest I ever had in my life. And half of the way I ran with a huge loaf of bread in a bag in my hands.)

I guess it boils down to “find a way to enjoy the thing you’re doing”* :man_shrugging:

Maybe something like “take the bus/cycle to a park/forest you’ll enjoy running in” may be a good idea for a Beeminder goal. (It’s not autodata but once a week, while I’m using my phone on the bus/bike, a manual +1 should be okay.)

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Alright let’s get to work!

My idea of a Glorious November '22 is as nebulous as it gets. It’s a combination of nebulous goals!

I think of each nebulous subgoal as “measuring one aspect” of the nebulous Glorious November goal.

Nebulous goal 1: Have more pleasure

Cinema used to be a source of pleasure for me. This resurfaced recently. After a few times I noticed this, I bought two subscriptions to give myself more opportunity: Mubi and Cineville.

Since then, I’ve spent about 130 Euros for watching 8 movies. Per movie, that’s 160% of a ticket to at a movie theater with a comparable selection (and I wasn’t selective, any movie would do). I’m comfortable with the extra cost in this case: I found most of them very pleasurable, and here I am at a very Beemindable situation.

Since I’m convinced I’d like to try and get in touch with cinema again, I want to Beemind this. The reason I’m not able to act in line with my conviction really seems to be just a misjudgment of alternatives when I’m making decisions.

So last week I created a goal: Use Cineville subscription at least at the rate where it’s reasonable to keep it. For me, right now that’s 2 movies/month.

I like that I can add arbitrary comments to data points. If this goal sticks, I’ll definitely want to convert these into Criticker scores.

Two more things:

  • I’ll create a similar goal for the other subscription, Mubi.
  • I’ll give up on these goals the moment I’ve already cancelled the subscriptions. This I’d interpret as: “I thought this would serve the nebulous goal, let’s try something else?”
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sponsored by a Beeminder goal

I’ll be picking up some old goals this month, too!

I’m turning 30 this month. A medical doctor friend reminded me that I’m approaching the period where I’ll start losing muscle.

A (realistic) pushup goal

I like doing pushups!

And I’ve created a pushup goal at 5.71 pushups/day. I’ll do these in one set. In fact, I expect to start with a set of 10 pushups. I go to the office every up to 3 days/week: 5.71 = 10 * (7-3) / 7

Until my initial motivation fades away, increasing the rate and adding auto-ratchets will tempt me. I’ll resist both in November.

Lessons from earlier pushup goals

I started and stopped my 2 or 3 pushup goals. I know better than to get easily ambitious by now.

I have a pattern by now: Start easy, realise it’s too easy, increase the rate or add auto-ratchet. When the initial motivation is clouded, run into trouble. Then lose motivation, feel bad for paying money and stop the goal.

I cycle between periods of working 100% from home and doing that down to 1-2 day/week. Ultimately, going to the office is the cloud that covered my initial motivation for these my earlier pushup goals.

In a period of working all week from home, I’d start with 10 pushups/day due by 11:00. Then, I’d get ambitious quickly. When I’m at the “office” part of my cucle, my mornings get filled with (the) stress (of catching an early (emptier) train in the Netherlands these days). Then I’d derail a few times, finally move the deadline to something “generous” like 19:00. Then I’d derail a few times more, because of afterwork socialisation, an incident etc and move the deadline to 23:00.

Lesson 1: I hate doing pushups at 23:00 about as much as like doing them at 11:00.
Lesson 2: I need a way to get unstuck in my ways. On this point, I have expectations from having committed to this thread.

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Beeminding TODOs

I’ve never been a “todo list” person, despite wanting to be one. “One must do” goals haven’t worked very well, either.

I think two reasons played into this:

  • Manual data entry
  • Bad feelings / getting overwhelmed

I’ve been meaning to get better at this. So, about a month ago, I figured I’d give it another shot.

Goal 1: next

This is a goal that gets a +1 each time I do either of the following on tasks tagged with next in Todoist.

  • I check off a task
  • Give it an honest attempt for >5 mins, but don’t complete the task

I have a rule to keep this focused: Nothing that I’m Beeminding separately (e.g. running, but also things like watering plants) don’t go into Todoist.

So far, it’s been set to 0.25 task/day, just to get myself started. Now I’m entering a period with 0.42 task/day. I’ll stick to this for a while and see how it goes.

Goal 2: Inbox zero

I use Todoist’s inbox to capture anything. This has been great.

I often experience surges of interest in things: books, articles, blog posts, podcast episodes, random project ideas, etc… This surge is especially powerful when I should rather be working on something that gives me an ugh-y feeling.

I addressed that by using my Todoist Inbox very liberally. These days, I’ll click an interesting link, or end up a Wikipedia page that I want to read, then hopefully realize what I’m doing and move it into the Todoist Inbox, instead of using my “interest” to avoid stuff.)

I still want my Todoist Inbox to stay useful. So I empty this weekly:

By emptying, I mean just the act of making sure the Inbox is empty. Anything counts: moving tasks to a Todoist Project, deleting, or actually consuming the content.

Until now, this has been great because I get to (1) hoard things as I desire (2) not use them as excuses to avoid other things.

Help: how to freshen Todoist?

I believe Todoist doesn’t have a “last modified” field for tasks :frowning: So freshening it is pretty difficult. Anyone with tips?

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Derailments so far
  • running-sessions
    • Second time in my life, I slept through my alarm on a work day. That put me off balance and I derailed on my running goal.
    • The failure mode is familiar to me:
      • <Failure on another goal I’m going to introduce here soon.>
        • Which causally interrelated with (1) me having very low self-control and (2) having acted in ways that further reduce my executive functioning capacity.

Running while on vacation

Despite having just railed on (one of) my running goals, something worth noting: I’m taking my running gear with me while travelling!

Having the red line while packing my bag was definitely helpful here!

I’m traveling to a place that’s not inspiring to me for running. So I’d like to also take the chance to try and get a bit creative. So I immediately updated my graph after the derailment:

Budgeting with Beeminder

I find Dutch banking industry unfortunately slow with innovation. Unrelatedly, I was looking for an excuse to fiddle with AWS lambda and serverless software development… so I wrote a simple integration to track some of my spending.

I feed in a CSV export of my transactions. The integration then (1) categorizes transactions and (2) posts data points for the Beeminder goal relevant for that category.

Since it’s not autodata, it’s easy to “derail in past” if I slack on entering data.

What I want from this goal is to rest of 2022 and most of 2023 to be capped at a much smaller rate.

I also have a goal to make sure I keep entering data (which is hacked into the integration at the moment)

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Finding a new job

I’m somewhat frustrated with my job. I’ve become unhappy and demotivated, especially over the course of past 6 months. This reached a point where I could not get myself to apply for new jobs. So I have a goal now:

I’m especially happy that I started it with a “very low rate” (1 application/week) considering delay of success decreases my life satisfaction quite a bit. I’m now at 2.45/week which is… a fractional rate where it doesn’t make much sense, except it puts me on a rate much better than 1/week and a rhythm I can handle.

(I’m also thinking of ways to reevaluate my relationship with my work. I hope I’ll be able to share something about that too, soon.)

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First setback!

I had a series of derailments, thanks to an excuse I found: “I just travelled the whole day back.” I did have time and energy when I was back, but well, akrasia (and $0 goals).

Derailments since last update

To begin with, the meta goal of this topic derailed :innocent: In addition…

todoist-freshening

It is indeed very cumbersome to do this manually.

Despite that, I did freshen a lot of items. So I’ll keep the goal at half the rate:

dev-budgeting-tool

This is a Toggle integration for “hours worked on a side project”. (The side project is the Beeminder integration to do some budgeting!)

Although I’ve lost some motivation, I’d still like to see this become a (personally) usable alpha version by January, ideally.

No graph yet, since I apparently messed up data entry via Toggle.

jobhunt-applications

I did get some confusing feedback from the market. And I may have resolved to first get a mortgage and then change jobs, due to some mortgage rules where I live. So I may just keep this goal flatlined for the next month.

Update: Beeminding TODOs - next

I’m trying to keep this topic easy to read for people that are not me! Maybe this format helps for updates on goals I’ve already introduced here?

Earlier on this goal

My goal for November was to see how the increased rate feels: It feels (too) easy. During the past month, I’ve effectively kept making a “baseline measurement”.

So I’ve increased the rate by a whopping 50%. My new rate is 0.63/day. Here’s how my graph looks:

This is a large increase and it’s in conflict with one of my goals here: “don’t be tempted by large increases, they’re unsustainable and reduce long term returns”. I’m putting that aside: this is a high priority goal.

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Wrapping up November but going ahead with the topic. It definitely increased the value I’m getting out of Beeminder.

Several aspects of house hunting

I have earlier written that I was considering switching from job hunting to house hunting.

I tried to Beemind “baseline activity” to eventually actually Beemind this. I failed because I set the goal up incorrectly.

🔎 details of the failure

I set a Toggle time tracking goal without an autoratchet. Since I wanted to get a baseline, I made a very small commitment to Beeminder. I ended up recording many multiples of my commitment. Eventually, I stopped tracking time for this activity.

This wasn’t just a will-power issue. It turns out “buying a house” is a multi-faceted activity. The ‘obvious’ ones: Searching houses, visiting them, analysing the asking price, etc. There were also sides to it that were less obvious to me: Talking to people to process information, understanding the financial tools, understanding my own reactions, etc.

My most successful goal has partially succeeded due to me measuring several aspects of it, so I’ll do that here, too.

  • Time. (= I’ll spend at least 10 minutes everyday)
  • Market awareness. (= Of the houses that pass my search filters, I’ll add at least one house to my spreadsheet. )
  • Understanding the market. (= Of the houses in my list, I’d like to consider the best option for purchase. This means analysing it the way I’ve developed so far.)

I’ll post this now to satisfy the meta goal. Then I’ll create the new goals later.)

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I'm having a blast with my running goal.

This feels very good. I feel like I’m coming to a brighter place.

Now feels like a right time to take better care of my mental health. For December, that’ll be my focus. (PSA: These are coming on top of psychotherapy, not instead.)

Getting/staying in touch with myself

I’ll be vague for a second: I’d like to be more in touch with my deeper desires and stronger feelings. I tend to get lost in the day and lose touch with myself.

I’ll start with measuring a few things to see if I can counteract this. These will be “soft” commitments. I’ll watch how it goes until the first derail. And I’ll be very easy on myself if I let these go after the first derail.

I’ve created 3 goals:

  • Gratitude journaling. Add one 1 thing you’re grateful about in the forum thread.
  • Morning pages. Set aside 30 minutes to write down “morning pages” (This is very experimental, following Julia Cameron’s ideas. I have checked out one of her books at a friend’s place and spotted interesting things.)
    • I’m also planning to add a Toggl goal for this.
  • Note 1 core negative belief a day. Not to cancel the gratitude journalling… but I do have strong core negative beliefs that I’d like to work on. First step is spotting them. I have 3 reminders throughout the day. When they go off, I scan back and add a datapoint if I spot such a belief. If by the last notification I have not done so, I add an empty datapoint.

So that’s 3 goals. I have a lot of goals again. I’ll be careful if I want to add another goal until 2023. I’ve also reduced my commitment to post here to 1/week instead of 2/week.

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Sorry to mess your post counter… I think this one is an interesting idea. It’s not so negative; “how do I currently limit myself and how can I overcome it”. It might be even more practical than gratitude journaling. Needless to say, I’m stealing your idea…

So I’ve been using RememberTheMilk for quite a few years, but I’ve been thinking of switching to Todoist partly because of the “Upcoming” view, where I can easily assign tasks to days, which has no equivalent in RememberTheMilk. I haven’t switched yet specifically because of the lack of a “last modified” field as you mentioned. I did think of a work-around, however, that might make it usable for me.

Every time you would like to freshen a task:

  1. If the description doesn’t contain a line starting “Originally added on…” then copy “Added on” datetime from the More actions drop-down menu.
  2. Modify the task how you like.
  3. Duplicate the task.
  4. Delete the original copy.

Now the “Added on” value actually reflects the last time the task was modified (and you can check the description for the original date).

  1. Select “Sorted by date added” and “Ascending”.
  2. The “oldest” / “least-fresh” task will be at the top, ready for you to refresh again.
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No worries about the count! I’ll just ratchet it as necessary. (Or find another integration to filter the RSS for my messages?)

Indeed, my experience so far has been: “Wow, look at that one.” when I started discovering beliefs… that I previously took for reality!

Thank you! I tried this and it’s more usable than I expected. I’m using a simplified version, though.

I’m skipping step 1 originally added on step. It’s a lot of work due to implied set up and execution steps: set up a keyboard shortcut to input "originally added on: ", paste the copied date. I don’t care much about when I note something down in Todoist. I only noticed it on the UI while trying your recipe.

Instead of enabling myself to hoard an “archive”, I’d much rather have the last step of my freshening cycle to be “Delete this item” when I reach a point that I’m fine forgetting (or having already forgotten) something. The way I use Todoist makes this a better option for me :slight_smile:

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Derailments

I derailed on 3 new goals. Now the stakes are real for these.

  • /leetcode, 0$ → 5$
    • I created this goal to be better prepared for coding interviews. I avoid Leetcode like plague. This is an emotional difficulty, I’m actually avoiding an insecurity. So I’ll stick to the goal for now.
  • /gratitude, 0$ → 5$
    • This is part of a larger goal. I derailed it once by mistake and that got me off the rails.
  • /subs-cineville, 0$ → 5$
    • This is part of my very nebulous “have more pleasure” goal. It also makes sure I don’t end up paying the subscription and make a loss.

Weight goal

I got the Withings scale at the beginning of this year. I always felt “conscious” of my weight, so I figured I actually know it.

(I really like the way valuable Beeminder integrations function as the perfect “own/standardize your data” solution.)

I knew I was floating around 75 kilograms. Once I started tracking, a few things happened:

  • I learned the (surprisingly wide) spread of my weight.
  • I discovered an extra warning for “I’m not doing well.” periods. I have difficulty caring for myself in when I’m not doing well. I notice this by my weight increasing: Less (intense) exercise, eating for emotional reasons, etc.
  • I started wanting to lose weight. I ended up with a drive to weigh below 70 before I’m 30.

I didn’t manage to go below 70 until my birthday. Perhaps I will before New Year’s Eve? In any case, I had great progress towards the goal.

Since I weigh at least once after I woke up, this became a bit of a routine. A nice side effect of this: It’s also a rough estimator of when I wake up.

I now wonder if a few tens (?) of grams precision I gained by weighing myself up to 60 minutes after waking up is worth the trade-off. I could have a way more precise estimator of when I wake up, if I give that up.

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Did you find out the root of your “fear of Leetcode” problem?
I relate to it; long are the days of when I was fearlessly learning and crying at my computer, but enjoying my new powers…
Introducing: ego and fear of feeling dumb!

PS: don’t forget to ratchet :wink:

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The closest thing that feels like the root is an attitude. One that brings negative emotions to me: approaching them as “difficulties.” It’s much nicer when I approach things as “exciting unknowns”, “things to learn about”, etc. but I find this difficult with Leetcode.


Derailments
  • /running-sessions, $5 → $5
    • I didn’t plan well and found myself in a situation I was home around 23:30 after a long day and had to run :frowning: I didn’t. I considered it my “gym membership cost.”

Although I’ve said I’ll be careful with creating goals, I realised I’m not reluctant to create “effortless” goals. Here’s a new one.

Weaning off caffeine

I want to experience what caffeine does to a body that’s not used to it. I will eventually wean off of it.

I’m starting with a modest decrease in cups of coffee/day:

image

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and having done that multiple times thinking of “effortless” goals, I started spreading myself too thin again.

Flatlining is bad when the goal isn’t dead (at least after a derailment)

I derailed my main running goal about a 2 weeks ago.

I initially thought “cold weather becoming warmer and rainy weather” was the real reason. An excitingly busy period at work seemed like a contributor to this result, too.

I’m now thinking if it’s just a sign of how effective Beeminder is for me. Deep down I still don’t accept this. It seems “inexplicable.”

I’m partially to blame: In a period where I got ambitious with my running goal, I increased the respite period to 14 days. I’ve done that so that I don’t end up “paying too much.” In hindsight, I’d rather pay $5 than have this.

Though in my defense, I read most of the Beeminder literature. I know (in a weak sense of knowing, apparently) that paying is not punishment. But I don’t think I was warned about the dangers of long respites.

By the way, I’d easily pay more than $5 today. The respite triggered to a downward spiral. So I’m now off-track with my weight goal (which I know is a lagging indicator of my well-being). I’m using the loophole of “not weighing.”

(This is going to become harder with the looming ease of creating a “weigh-in” goal in Beeminder. I’m now aiming at daily weigh-ins from 1st of Jan. I better get back on track until then!)

Worth noting: A spiral doesn’t happen just because of a derailment. My life is a wiggly line. The wiggle was already curling into a spiral. The derailment was a sign of that. The best course of action at that point would be to get back on the wagon as quickly as possible, though Beeminder doesn’t really help with that.

I found this on Beeminder blog by @philip, which I really liked:

The second [thing that’d be helpful] is to re-commit to an easily achievable slope, not a flat line. Flatlining is bad; the goal isn’t dead. What I need after losing momentum is a bit of a push.

@dreev any plans, or general advice in this area?

I realised that people are thoughtful of the RSS goal attached to this topic when @clouedoc hinted it. I got rid of that goal now. I’ll rather do it manually than hinder conversation. If anyone has an automated solution for “my posts in this topic RSS feed”, I’d be happy to hear.

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Good question! One generalization of Philip’s excellent point is to Anti-Flake Strategies. In particular, a variant of Philip’s advice: only ever add finite flat spots to Beeminder goals rather than perma-flattening or archiving (unless you’re certain that you’re done with a goal for good).

Another thing this reminds me of is The Great Auto-Ratchet Flippening, which we have obviously not been making fast progress on but which I believe is the eventual future.

Same! Speaking of which, this nice and timely reply to your question is brought to you by my own “post more to the forum” RSSminder goal, bmndr.co/d/forum. :grin:

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I know what you mean about flattening a goal, and then finding (to your annoyance!) that you needed the incentive of a $5 charge to actually force you to do the thing which you thought was long established by now! I’ve had exactly this, and forced myself to restart a goal for this reason.

My plan now would be for me to maybe have a respite pause of perhaps 10 days, but if I find after a day or two that I’m not getting back on the horse, halve the slope from the end of the pause (which there is still have time to do as it will be 7+ days out). Maybe something like that would help you?

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