The Scoop: Sticking with your personal goals can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be that way. With Beeminder, achieving your hopes has never been easier. The software uses financial incentives to help users stay on track with the goals they set. Singles can use the Beeminder program to work on self-improvement, or even motivate themselves in their love lives.
When Daniel Reeves started dating Bethany Soule in 2005, he was working hard in his academic career. Daniel was in the middle of a Ph.D. thesis — a long, drawn-out project requiring self-motivation and self-accountability. When Daniel’s advisor gave him a scary tight deadline for his thesis, he knew he had to pick up the pace. He had to figure out a way to keep himself on track to deliver a high-quality thesis on time.
Luckily for Daniel, Bethany was an excellent motivator. “Bethany came to my rescue with all manner of crazy incentive and productivity schemes,” Daniel said. “She dubbed it the ‘Voluntary Harassment Program.'”
Years later, the couple turned Bethany’s motivation ideas into a website. They used it as a way for friends and family to lose weight, work out more, or accomplish other goals. After developing and perfecting the software, they were ready to quit their day jobs and work full time on their productivity site. They named it Beeminder and launched the company in 2011.
Beeminder uses behavioral economic incentives, game theory, and psychology to help users keep up with their goals. “The biggest commitment device is the financial incentive,” Daniel said. “You agree to get charged money if you don’t keep all your data points on track toward what you committed to. This keeps your short-term self and your long-term self aligned.” By using real-world, tangible consequences to keep you motivated, Beeminder effectively incentivizes users to stay on track with their goals. It can be a bit difficult to get started with the software, but once you do, it’s a great way to stay motivated.
Whether you’re newly single or have been by yourself for a while, you have an excellent opportunity for self-improvement. That may mean improving at a hobby, getting more committed to working out or even pushing yourself to go on more dates. The time and energy you have outside of a relationship give you ample opportunity to work on yourself.
Beeminder can make sure that you stay consistent with your goals. Don’t just talk about exercising more; hold yourself to doing it. With Beeminder, you literally put your money where your mouth is.
Bridging Short-Term and Long-Term Desires
Beeminder’s financial incentives differentiate it as a productivity app. Missing a goal has a real consequence, which drives real action.
Of course, missing your goal already has a real consequence: the absence of long-term success and gratification. But in real time, that doesn’t feel like a big enough deal to motivate you. “You care about being in shape next year, but that’s too far away to care about in the moment,” Daniel said. “But ‘I’m about to be charged real money if I don’t get my 10k steps by midnight’ is easy to care about in the moment.”
Working for delayed gratification is incredibly challenging. Making a decision that feels uncomfortable in the moment for something that might pay off, in the long run, requires dedication and trust that you’ll continue to keep up with your goals. And when you’ve created habits that prioritize instant gratification, the dopamine release your brain associates with that activity can make for a powerful craving. “Just driving by your favorite fast-food restaurant or seeing your phone nearby is enough to induce powerful cravings, making it more challenging to break an unhealthy habit,” writes Austin Perlmutter for Psychology Today.
It’s possible to break habits of instant gratification on your own. But to make a lasting change requires constant work of willpower that can be exhausting and hard to maintain.
That’s why Beeminder uses your brain to make it easier for you to make the better long-term choice. Instead of choosing between scrolling on your phone or going on a run, you choose between losing money or going on a run. For most people, running just became a far more appealing option.
If You Can Put a Number on It, You Can Beemind It
Daniel told us that most Beeminder users focus on self-improvement hallmarks that one might expect from productivity software. “It seems to be about half and half between fitness-related goals and productivity-related goals,” Daniel said. “But there are also hard-to-categorize goals, like socializing more, romantic gestures to one’s significant other, or even hugging one’s kids. Or sometimes it’s working on a hobby, like practicing music.”
For the software to be effective, you need to come up with a quantifiable way to examine whether you measure up to your goal. Daniel admits that this makes it a bit more “nerd-focused” and creates a steeper learning curve for users getting started on Beeminder.
Some things are easy to quantify, like screen time on your phone or how much you bench. Other objectives, like being a better date or putting work into friendships, require a bit more self-reflection.
You may need to consider which parts of your goals you have control over, and what you actually want to change. Perhaps you decide that simply going on more dates is not important to you, but being present on your date is. That may mean that asking your date a certain number of questions is a better metric for meeting your goals than the number of dates you go on. It’s also likely a better indicator than the number of second dates you go on since that isn’t entirely in your control.
“As we say, if you can put a number on it, you can Beemind it,” Daniel told us. Most life changes are quantifiable. It’s just a matter of deciding how you want to quantify your goals based on what you value and what you have the power to change.
Be the Best Version of Yourself With Beeminder
No one wants a long-term partner who’s inconsistent and unmotivated. Goal-oriented people can better follow through on commitments, provide financially, and even entertain themselves without the constant attention of a partner. Accomplishing your goals makes you more confident and willing to put yourself out there in dating. When you know how much you’re capable of, you’ll see your value. You’ll be a more securely attached partner and better prepared to handle any disappointments or heartaches that come your way.
Beeminder has helped countless individuals achieve their goals. Even those who struggle to follow through have found positive life changes with Beeminder’s helpful and practical software. You may not see yourself as highly motivated or goal-oriented, but by gaining Beeminder’s support to implement small changes, you can grow your capabilities and even your identity for the better. “We’re constantly floored at what people accomplish with Beeminder,” Daniel said.
Sometimes, circumstances and goals change. You may decide that your goal to learn the drums was an unreasonable use of your time, or you may even want to stop trying to date more after you find that special someone. Beeminder doesn’t force you to stay financially interwoven to goals that no longer make sense. Still, they wanted to balance user autonomy with accountability so that no one tries to get out on a whim. “You can change your goal at any time, but any changes — including ending it altogether — take a week to take effect,” Daniel said. “So you can change your commitment for a thought-through reason but not out of laziness unless you’re weirdly forward-thinking about your laziness.” According to Daniel, most people are not forward-thinking about their laziness.
While Beeminder works through financial incentives of negative punishment, the team does not relish taking people’s money. “The most common objection we hear is that Beeminder’s incentives seem perverse, that we make money when people fail at their goals,” Daniel said. “Beeminder goals are not binary succeed-or-fail; they’re ongoing commitments.”
Beeminder continues to support its users after they get derailed. Achieving your goals is challenging, and the team at Beeminder wants to help you every step of the way.
“If you do derail occasionally, it’s most likely that Beeminder is pushing you, and you’re doing far more than you would’ve without Beeminder,” Daniel told us. “People who pay Beeminder and choose to keep Beeminding — remember you can quit any time with a one-week delay — do so because the money they’re paying is worth it for the motivation Beeminder provides.”