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Reach your goals or pay

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Russian Federation
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 1 of 2
30 December 2013 at 12:22pm | IP Logged 
Might be useful to those pondering about their New Year resolutions:

Beeminder (can use your data from Duolingo or RescueTime!)

Also just reminding that we have a consistency thread and it's free (I'll start a new one on January 1st).

Edited by Serpent on 30 December 2013 at 12:31pm

United States
Joined 2913 days ago

2615 posts - 6290 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 2 of 2
30 December 2013 at 1:15pm | IP Logged 
I'm a very happy user of Beeminder. Language-wise, I used it for finishing Le Déchronologue quickly, and I'm currently using it for Egyptian (requiring me to complete one Assimil lesson per week).

What kind of goals work well with Beeminder? They have a nice "test" in one of their blog posts:

The Want-Can-Will Test

Consider some goal you have, such as losing a certain amount of weight or spending a certain minimum amount of time playing music. Now consider three questions about it.

1. How certain are you that you want to do this?
2. How certain are you that you can do this?
3. How certain are you that you will do this?

If your answers are “absolutely”, “definitely”, and “given historical evidence, not entirely” then you have your answer.

The key part here is question (2): You should definitely be sure that you can do this. So choose small, easy goals that you're sure to able to complete. And only Beemind one or two things at a time. The power of Beeminder comes from the consistency, not from trying to kill yourself each and every week.

Some observations:

- The folks running Beeminder are both friendly and scrupulously fair. When you fail a goal, for example, they send you an email asking, "Was this a legit failure? Can you look us in the eye and say, 'No, this wasn't legit?' If so, let us know, and it won't count." They have a conflict of interest built right into their business model (they make money when their customers fail). They deal with this by being so scrupulously clean and honest that nobody would ever doubt them. And virtually all of their revenue comes from long-term users who fail only rarely.

- Beeminder works much better than Seinfeld calendars and consistency threads for goals which require me to do something a few times per week. For example, exercising 7 days a week is a bad idea, and I can't afford to invest 7 lessons a week into Egyptian. But exercising intensely for 20 minutes twice a week is ridiculously easy, and so is making MCDs from one Assimil lesson. But over time, this stuff adds up.

- Beeminder has a wonderful idea called the "akrasia horizon". The idea is that you may be a whimp now, but you're more disciplined when you make decisions about the future. And so they institute a simple rule: You can give up or change the rules at any time, but changes take a week to take effect. For example, I spent most of last week wanting to quit my French statistics class. But when I said, "Hey, I can quit this class effective next week," I said, "Well, but actually I still want to do this."

I've never lost $5 to them for missing a commitment. (Then again, I do have a 2250-day unbroken consistency goal for doing something in French.) But I'm also using Beeminder for work projects, and as such, it's insanely profitable. So I throw them $10/month for some upgraded features. I make that $10 back so many times over it's not funny.

And another example of how scrupulously honest they are? Unlike every other internet company in existence, if I stop using their service, they'll automatically cancel my $10/month plan. They also provide lists of their competitors and similar services which make pretty graphs without a binding commitment.

Do I recommend their service? Sure, but only to people who can afford to risk US$5 or more, and who have a goal where they want to make a binding commitment to make a certain amount of progress every week. See the want/can/will test above. If that's not you, check out their lists of similar services.
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