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Spiraling Into Control

I wrote this as a guest post on the Beeminder blog — comments can live there.

It’s dark. Warm. Safe. You’re in bed, about to fall asleep. Pre-dream hallucinations of commanding a mighty bear army are playing across your sated mind. Zz — wait — what about that CrossFit Beeminder?!

You forgot. You got behind. You skipped CrossFit yesterday, but Beeminder said that was okay as long as you did it today instead. You meant to, but life happened. At this point, you think, “I am sumptuously swaddled in my favorite luxury bedding material, it’s late, and there is no way I’m going out in the street to do the workout-of-the-day in the dark, by myself, in my pajamas. And Beeminder will just charge me $5 this time. Okay, deal. Zzz.”

But I think there’s a better way to use Beeminder. When this happened to me, I didn’t even have to think about what to do; I just found myself out there grunting my medicine ball against a telephone pole and jumprope-sprinting into gloomy rosebushes. [1] It wasn’t even worth considering losing my wager over the tiny matter of some physical discomfort. What wager? Not money — just the certainty that I will always do what I promise myself I will do.

The Flaw With Goal Setting

On Imported Blog

For a moment, think about all of your New Years' Resolutions you have ever made. If even a small fraction were successful, you're probably better off than a 99% (making up statistics is a pastime of mine) of America.

But seriously, very few of our goals do come true. New Years' Resolutions are a prime example. How many people say they're going to lose X amount of pounds, get a gym membership, and end up dropping the goal altogether by mid-February (if they even reached that far)? Throughout school we're often taught to write down our goals and share them with our peers/teachers in hope that they will motivate us to achieve them.

This rarely works out. The problem arises in the fact that we spend too much on the idea of the goal itself. I briefly talked about this on a previous blog post, but I want to expand on this because it's something that many (especially me) suffer from.

By publicizing our goals, we think we've actually progressed a step. In reality, we're right where started, if not even a little behind. If I think about the few goals I have actually achieved, I didn't really tell anyone. I simply got straight to it. Instead of obsessing about the goal, I tried to take the first step possible.

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