Beeminder Forum

Why does a goal start with a week buffer?

I just started a Whittle Down goal for my work:

Essentially, I want to work through 233 accts by the end of the month.

Why does it wait a week before the whittling down starts?


Hi! Thanks for mentioning this seemed weird to you – it’s always helpful to know when things don’t seem to make sense. In this case, it’s because we don’t start you off with a rate at all, because we have no idea what your units are and what might be reasonable. (For instance, it might be feasible to delete one email a day… but for most people, not to be able to read one book a day from a list! So even a rate like -1 a day… or even a week… might not be a good plan for many goals.)

When you do set a rate, that’s subject to the akrasia horizon. The akrasia horizon is all about whether you’re making your goal easier during that seven-day period where short-term thinking can take precedence over long-term goals, so making your goal harder is allowed. As long as it’s making the goal harder, not easier, you can circumvent that using the graph editor (Beeminder Graph Editor).

What happens when you change your rate via the commitment dial is that any changes to your rate only kick in after the akrasia horizon even if it makes your goal harder, because… I’m not sure why, to be honest – it may be a technical limitation, or again because we don’t know what your units/goals are, and we’ve gone with the most universally applicable version.


Thanks for the reponse!

So, just to get this straight - I have the goal to whittle down from 233 accounts to 0 accounts by 6/30/2021. Since Beeminder doesn’t know what rate I should whittle down, it waits a week and the asses how much to set the rate?

Why doesn’t it just do 233 accounts divided by the # of days left in the month for a linear decline starting today?

Ah, no – you need to set the rate, or it will be flat forever. Sounds like you’ve set the rate (by telling it you want to reach 0 by a date), but it will take 7 days for that new rate to kick in, because of the akrasia horizon.


Great, thanks for the info! Love the site but still getting used to its nuances.


Thanks for letting us know what your questions were! It’s really useful for us to hear, because we do try to tweak and improve things all the time. :slight_smile:


Looks as though you’ve figured out how to get that downward slope starting straight away!

For those who are following along from home, I can think of three ways of achieving that:

  1. use the road editor to change where the bright red line should be. Using that, you can make the goal harder straight away, but never easier.
  2. use the ‘ratchet’ feature on the goal’s commitment tab – but also doublecheck that it hasn’t changed the end date!
  3. email support, which of course you can also do after one of the other methods has gone horribly wrong

Caveat: we would actually explain to you how to do #1 or #2, and take notes on anything that’s going wrong/anything weird or confusing, and basically help you figure out how to do it. We don’t actually get into bespoke graph tweaking. :slight_smile: