Beeminder Forum

The magic of whittle-down goals: reframing do-more goals as whittling down the stuff you still have to do

So I discovered that whittle-down goals are especially motivating for me!

Rather than set up a do-more goal to work a certain number of units every day, I set up my goal so it started at the number of units I wanted to get done over the next two weeks and counts down how many units are left.

I just find it so much more motivating to get rid of things I have to do, as opposed to adding on to a list or chart of what I have already done. This way, every time I work 15 minutes I get to cross something off my list by lowering my number by 1. Does anyone know if there’s behavioral economics or loss-aversion-type research on this?

I’m curious if anyone else found that reframing a do-more goal as a whittle-down goal in this way was helpful.

Related: An experiment to beemind "keeping on top of grading"


I haven’t tried it yet, but yes, whittling down a goal does sound less intimidating and more motivating! I’ll have to give it a shot.

I have already made the breakthrough that I don’t have to improve continually, until the end of time on some goal/habit. I’ve had success lately in just picking a goal for e.g. the next month (“average of 5 new anki notes a day”), without putting myself on the hook for any what comes after that. When the month is up, maybe it’ll be time for a break, or time to focus on a different goal, etc. Lifelong habits are allowed to come and go in waves.

Anyway, maybe next time I’ll try a whittle-down goal to see if it feels any different. :slight_smile:

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