January 4, 2016
4 mins read

A little over a week ago I came across a service called Beeminder that takes a really interesting spin on goal tracking and goal achievement, specifically for goals that can be quantified. In short the premise is that every time you miss a goal, you pay them $$ (the hypothetical sting). If you’re as frugal with your dollars as I am, then that’s as good enough an incentive as any to make sure goals aren’t missed. I spent the better half of a full day reading up on Beeminder, how it does what it does and learning as much about it as I could (they have REALLY thorough blog postings for just about everything). Be warned there’s a gradual learning curve so be prepared to invest some time getting up to speed but I think it’s worth it, so far.

I mentioned you pay if you miss your goals and yes, it’s based on an exponential scale ($0, $5, $10, $30, $90, $270, $810, $2430). Note it starts at $0 because you can have a “free” goal and even if you miss it, never pay a dime, but quite honestly to get the most out of the service I think you really need the risk of being stung. The way the scale works is that the first time you miss your goal it’s $5, then the 2nd time it’s $10 etc…this is all per goal so you could be on your 3rd mishap on goal 1 and 1st on goal 2 and you’d pay $30 and $5 respectively.

Once you’ve setup your goal, the graphs show you what they call the “Yellow Brick Road” and this yellow section of the graph is where you need to ensure that your data points fall because if they’re outside that path then you’ve lost and not met your goal. Depending on whether you’re doing a “Do More goal” (ascending graph) or “Do Less goal” (descending graph) would dictate which side of the yellow brick road is the side that stings.

I’m still figuring it all out but so far I’ve setup 4 goals: * Daily weigh-ins on my Withings scale * Maintain at least 40 hours of productive time per week via Rescue Time * Complete at least 25 todos in Todoist per week * Make at least 5 commits per week on Github

Here’s my Beeminder page showing the 4 goals I just mentioned.

Since I just became a user I haven’t added my credit card yet so technically speaking these are “free” goals but I fully well intend to add said CC in the next few days once I feel I have a better grasp of how it all works. Another goal I’ll start tracking is number of blog posts per month because as you can see in 2015 I made 1 post.

The icing on the cake for me with regards to wanting to use Beeminder is that they have a public API so I can programmatically grab my goal data and add that to my QS tool for analysis and “story telling”.

One thing I wish they had which could help with the initial ramp up, videos showing how to use the various features. Like I mentioned before they do have an extensive blog and FAQ that combined are quite thorough if you have the time to read it all. You’ll also quickly notice that there’s a lot of Beeminder jargon so having the glossary handy is helpful.

One last thing that’s really sitting well with me regarding Beeminder is how much these guys not just preach out their product but actually use it too. They “dog food” constantly and when they miss a goal they pay their users, impressive! Also their philosophy and transparency around their pricing model is nothing like I’ve seen before. Yes, they want and need to make a profit, after all this is a business but they’re all about doing so fairly, for example, if you sign up for their premium monthly plan and stop using the service after 3 months but forget to cancel, they’ll stop charging you after 30 days of inactivity. Who does that? Beeminder does!

This post isn’t meant to be an extensive review, but more about sharing what I think is a really interesting service on many fronts. Hope you can check it out and get some benefit out of it as well.