This is an experimental goal I’m running that whomever was behind the twitter account today suggested I should post about here, so here I am.

I drink a little too much. Not like “I have a problem” too much, but more like “I could probably stand to have maybe 2 or 3 fewer drinks a week” too much.

I’ve previously beeminded units of alcohol consumption and concluded that actually measured as a number of units per week I’m *fine*. Certainly well within the recommended health guidelines - most nights I don’t actually have anything at all, so this brings the averages down to acceptable levels.

The problem is that on nights that I *do* drink I probably have a few drinks more than I should. I make tasty cocktails, and after a tasty cocktail or two making another one sounds like a much better idea.

And by the third drink of the evening I will usually discover the next day that it *wasn’t* a good idea.

So I decided to try to design a goal with an incentive structure that matched up to the actual problem and kept the number of evenings I had too many drinks down while not penalising evenings where I’ve just had the one too harshly. What I’ve come up with seems like a nice general structure, and it’s not too hard to track.

What I’m tracking is a total drink-score per week. The first drink on a day scores one, the second scores two (for a total of 3), the third scores 3 (for a total of 6), etc. These totals are called triangular numbers, hence the name triangular beeminding.

(Note: These are drinks, not units. It’s easier to track and I try to keep my beeminder goals in units that I can easily eyeball rather than having to estimate. Especially if I have to estimate them after a few drinks. Most of my drinks are approximately two units).

I’m then capped at a total score of 15 per week. This equates to a maximum of 11 drinks in a week (3 days with 1 drink and 4 with 2), which at my averages is *just* over the recommended maximum of 21 units, but that’s because 15 is my slightly generous starting rate for the goal. It also means that if I have more than two drinks on any night I’m forced under the recommended maximum to compensate - if I have 3 drinks on 1 night I only have 9 points to spend for the rest of the week, which is another 7 drinks and a point left over, so 20 and a bit units (note that one point left over ~ an extra drink over the course of the next two weeks).

Example permitted maximum drinking patterns:

- 4 days with 2 drinks and 3 days with 1 (0 points left over)
- 1 day with 3 drinks, 1 day with 2 drinks, 5 with 1 (1 point left over)
- 2 days with 3 drinks, 3 days with 1 drink, 2 days alcohol free (0 points left over)
- 1 day with 5 drinks (!) and no drinking the rest of the week (0 points left over)

Note that 3 days with 3 drinks is not permitted even with the remaining rest of the week free: That would be 18 points which takes me over the threshold.

So far this is experimental. I only started this today (In which I racked up 3 points celebrating the release of a friend’s game), so it may turn out to be far too complicated in practice. We’ll see how well this actually works, and I’ll report back when I know. However I’m quite pleased with the incentive structure it sets up, and it seems relatively simple to implement, so I’m reasonably hopeful.