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People boxing, ie, punching each other

I originally wrote this as a beemail and everyone seemed to love it, so I’ve blogged it for the rest of the world to see. I do realize how vaguely self-serving this advice is. [1] And perhaps hard to generalize to people who are not founders of Beeminder. But it works for me!

With the new year, and bunch of people resolving to better themselves, and turning to us to reinforce that resolve, I want to suggest to you all that you should remember to be nice to yourselves.

Don’t beat yourself up for paying Beeminder pledges! I think of it as a way to make my value for various behaviors crystal clear. [2]

If I have $10 pledged on my running goal and it is an eep day and I still don’t feel like running, I can decide to pay $10 and get out of it. Cool! I’m no longer badgering myself about how I “should” go, or about how I’m going rogue on past me who decided that the optimal time to run would be tomorrow.

“How much do I value not running right now?”

Instead it’s a simple decision: how much do I value not running right now? If it is less than $10 then I’ll run. If it is more, I’ll pay. If I get up to $90 pledged and I still don’t want to go running, then I will re-evaluate why I am trying to get myself to run in the first place. [3] If it is a really good reason, then OK, let the amounts continue upward. Sometimes, however, I might realize that this goal is stupid and I don’t want it anyway. Then I can just hit Archive.

Ideally beeminding stuff isn’t just another punishment you heap on to an already critical inner monologue. Allow us to ease that burden.


Image source: all over the interwebz



[1] Yes, as a cofounder of Beeminder, I own something like 40% of the company, so paying Beeminder $90 is literally equivalent to paying closer to $50. Some of our meta goals are paid directly to users. I’d actually love to have the pledges on all my personal goals go to users (I just need to work out a fair distribution mechanism). [UPDATE: We did that for a while but it was too much overhead. See our Dogfood Binge post.]

[2] Or as one Beeminder user put it: “I class all Beeminder expenditures under ‘finding out how expensive it is to achieve my goals’. I might be surprised by how expensive a certain goal is, but that has nothing to do with you!”

[3] In the case of running, it has lately been the NYC triathlon looming in the summer that is the reason I want to have been running. At other times it has been some nebulous desire to be the kind of person who likes to run, and I ultimately decided that was not a very good reason to do something I don’t enjoy and pay for it.