My goal doesn't make any sense!

Sometimes you can accidentally back yourself into an impossible or nonsensical situation on a Beeminder goal.

A common example is Gmail goals: a negative rate without an end date or value set will eventually mean that you need to have a negative number of emails in your inbox. Obviously, this is not possible. Or maybe you created a weight goal and typoed the start value, and now you need to lose 10 pounds in a single day to avoid derailing.

If it's a brand new goal and you can see the problem, it's easiest to delete the goal and recreate it. If you're still having the problem after a second try, contact support to explain the problem and we'll dig into it with you. It's always really valuable for us to understand what's confusing and what users are hoping to do, so you're helping us out here!

If it's an existing goal that's more than seven days old, you might not be able to fix it or archive the goal (due to the akrasia horizon) before you get stung. Contact support if so and we'll help figure out what's gone wrong and how you can get back on track.

Troubleshooting yourself:

If you're a do-it-yourself type fiddling around with a goal when something weird happens, here's a few things to try to identify/undo the problem:

  • If you see a weird amount due (e.g., +40 hours in 1 day), check that you haven't selected the HH:MM setting. This setting only makes sense for goals with unit hours; it will show strange, inaccurate baremins for other units.
  • You might also need to click on the baremin field to toggle it between delta and total (see part b of our article on interpreting the goal page), if we're telling you something like "640 total pushups due in 2 days." More likely it's actually just +20, for a cumulative total of 640 across the whole life of the goal! For example, here's a reading goal that shows 282 pages due in total... but that's only +5 pages by the next deadline because 277 pages have already been read:
    shanaqui/thehandsoftheemperor: 282 total due in 6d 14h 08m or pay $5shanaqui/thehandsoftheemperor: +5 total due in 6d 14h 08m or pay $5
  • Check for upcoming breaks (or use the graph editor) to see if there are forgotten or unexpected rate changes at play.
  • Load and sort all the goal's data by date and/or value to find accidentally-input outliers that may send a graph haywire.


Keywords: newbee confusion, broken graphs

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