This is something I’ve struggled with a lot too. In fact, I’ve just started actively re-thinking all of my fine print, so that my goals’ boundaries are clear and bright, but also reasonable and in line with what I actually want the shape of my goals to be.
I’m not done thinking this through [*1] (and I’m really looking forward to seeing other responses to your post!) but here are some of the things I’ve settled on so far.
Record the date the fine print was changed whenever I change it.
- The reason for this one is that I want my Fine Print to be subject to the one-week waiting period for changing a goal’s commitment (i.e. the akrasia horizon). I don’t want to be allowed to add a clause like “Requirements for this goal don’t apply on Tuesdays” on Tuesday and start using that clause that day!
The longer I intend to use a goal and the higher I intend the pledge to be allowed to get, the more thoughtful I should be about the completeness of my fine print.
- If I have a one-month-long goal with a max $5 pledge, it’s probably not worth spending 36-1/4 hours writing out a contingency plan for every scenario that might come up. The value of thinking it through carefully goes up when it’s a goal I intend to live with for years. (And, in fact, I love that thinking through my fine print is a way of making me think through exactly what I want these big goals to look like.)
Have some fine print that applies to all of my goals (also subject to the one-week akrasia horizon).
- For instance, I have a clause in my overall fine print that states that anything recommended by an expert (e.g. a physician, psychologist, academic coach) that contradicts a goal’s requirements overrules them. If a doctor tells me to stop intermittent fasting while I’m on such and such a prescription or something, I wouldn’t reply, “Oh, okay, but next week though, cause I have this graph…” Same goes with my academic coach. If she thinks I’ve got my priorities set wrong and need to change them, that overrules the plans I’d made. (Of course, I would still beemind the new plans!)
That’s it for now. Can’t wait to steal yours and others’ ideas while I’m thinking all of this through. Thanks for the topic!
[*1] Seriously. I have an entire Evernote notebook dedicated to the reformulation of all of my fine print, for all of my goals. #ExcessOrNothing