The yellow brick road

Mind the bee

Achieving long-term non-mandatory goals I set with myself is hard as hell.
Changing behavior and building new habits isn’t easy either.

in order to achieve either one I need to:

1 – Plan
2 – Hold myself accountable to my plan and execute it

Planning is easy and pleasing (and it feels like I’m already making progress)
Holding myself accountable and diligently executing the proposed actions is the hardest part.

And I’m certain that 99% of the people that’ll ever read this article will also identify with my pain. You’re not alone, bro/sis.

This is not the first time I try to solve this (more on this on a coming post) but I wish it’ll be the last.
I’m not aiming at perfectionism, like achieving 100% of what I plan.
I’m aiming at having a system that I know that works for myself.

What I’m doing different this time:

1 – Public commitment

AKA this very post and public links.

2 – Setting a clear start and end date to experiment with a new system

Even if it sucks it’ll still serve a purpose of holding myself accountable to it for 30 days.
Besides learning what doesn’t work, I’ll be flexing my self discipline (RIP Kumon) and self esteem muscles.

3 – Removing friction and temptation

Data entry is necessary to make sure I’m sticking to the plan. 2/3 of it will be entered automatically via APIs.
The less I need to do it manually, the easier and less tempting it is for me to cheat on myself.

4 – Real consequences (negative reinforcement)

If this then thatIf I derail on my goals, I’ll pay an amount of money for it. If I derail again on that goal the consequences will be tripled. And so on and so forth.

5 – Sweet prize at the end (positive reinforcement)

If I stick to the system for 1 month, I’ll indulge myself with a new comfortable chair or stand desk.

(Sticking to the system means not archiving my goals nor cheating. Being stung by Beeminder and paying the price for derailment is a punishment but does not mean failure)

THE SYSTEM – Beeminder

Beeminder is Quantified Self plus Commitment contracts. If you just want self-tracking you have a lot of choices and if you just want commitment devices you have more and more options as well (StickK is our biggest competitor). Beeminder combines self-tracking and commitment contracts: keep all your datapoints on a Yellow Brick Road to your goal or we take your money. The combination is powerful. We call it flexible self-control.

MY GOALS

Sleep

Sleeping well is as important as eating healthy. And I’m not happy with my current sleeping habits.

I’m going to bed much later than I wish. 100% of the time it’s because I’m on the computer or phone doing all sorts of things.

How: If I tinker with my computer or pick up my phone after 12am, I programmed RescueTime to send and alert to Zapier and Zapier will send this to Beeminder. That will sting me.
Weekends are days off.

https://www.beeminder.com/gustavohsouza/offlinenights

Meditation

Meditation is a great habit I’ve started to build at a point in my life but completely derailed.

How: Headspace, Breathe and HRV Elite are all apps used for meditation and they send data to Apple Health labeled as Mindful Minutes. Beeminder sucks this data daily and updates my meditation goal.

My goal is to meditate a minimum of 35mins per week. If this is too easy for me I might bump it up in a couple weeks.

https://www.beeminder.com/gustavohsouza/meditation

Productivity

At the beginning of each day I’ll set my priorities for the day on Notion and attribute points to each priority.

At the end of the day I need to accomplish 80% of the proposed points.

Some of the priorities will be activities that don’t depend solely on me. I need to do my best to influence them towards completion (afterall, I’m directly interested), when setting the points this shall be taken into consideration and I’m aiming at 80% to leave room for some misjudgments and unforeseen events.

How: print screen in the beginning of the day, print screen at the end of the day, manual data entry.

(I wish I could automate the data entry part with BaaS but I’m still waiting to be accepted. Let’s see!)

Conclusion

This is no silver bullet nor does it aim at achieving outrageously audacious goals.

I wish it’ll work well for these 30 days and I’ll iterate on the system for the next 60 days.

LMK if you’ve had similar experiences or if you want to copy my systems/automations. I’m happy to go over the details if you are willing to commit for 30 days too đŸ™‚

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9 Comments

  1. https://forum.beeminder.com/t/ios-is-open-source-again-request-for-feature-bugfix-requests/3620/7

    For a sample iOS shortcut sending to the Beeminder api

    I would have answered you in the Beeminder forum but Dreev has suspended my account because he does not like my username.

    1. Thanks!! Will take a look at it now.

      btw, what was your username there? haha

      1. So once you have the samples, perhaps you can iterate through them, adding together the durations, and send that total to the Beeminder API.

        1. That’s the challenge I’m currently stuck at… I don’t know how to program this addition.
          https://forum.beeminder.com/t/alternative-way-to-pull-data-from-apple-health/9011/14

          1. Hello.

            OK.
            So you have a

            * Find Health Samples where Type is Mindful Minutes

            and you follow that with a

            * Get Duration from Health Samples

            You could then use

            * Calculate
            to calculate the sum of the durations

            In my case that produced the value of seconds for all ‘mindful minutes’ on that one particular day, thus far.

            From there perhaps you need to convert the amount into minutes or hours.

            To do so, you can use Measurement to create a

            * Measurement Duration dailyDurationMeditationInSeconds sec

            and follow that with a

            * Convert Measurement
            convert measurement into duration in minutes

            https://imgur.com/a/45bctOP

          2. Congratulations!
            I see you have it working.
            Someone else in the forum asked about using caffeine from Apple Health via the Beeminder iOS app. That user could use your shortcut / automation to do it even without the app, as you have done for mindfulness.

            From the looks of it, you have all of the steps defined inside the automation.

            You could instead define all of those steps inside a shortcut and use automation to launch that shortcut at a particular time.
            This way, you could share the shortcut should you want. (If you do so, be sure not to share your auth token!)

            PS
            Sorry about the interruption of continuing the conversation here. I would have done so at the forum had my account been allowed to do so at the time. Cheers and well done!

      2. Sorry for the misunderstanding, bmndr_user / ubdhtvqeakj9! The problem was having two accounts. (Also I confess to hating “ubdhtvqeakj9” as a username but that’s secondary!)

        Please do email me so we can sort out the forum account stuff! dreeves@beeminder.com

        Thanks for all the help in this thread!

  2. I discovered a lot of tools throgh this article.
    Amazing article and audacious goals brow.

    Thanks and good luck

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