Derailing is not failing (derailing it is nailing it!)

Sometimes, when people start using Beeminder, their first derailments feel demotivating. They join Beeminder thinking that this is going to be It, the solution to all their problems... and they derail anyway. At that point, it can sometimes feel a bit like failure -- but we strongly believe that's not the case. Sure, you've derailed on your goal, but you've set up a Beeminder goal so you've already got your toes held to the fire, and you're going to get right back on the horse and keep going. (Sorry, mixed metaphors...)

The point is that even when you derail, that's where a choice to use Beeminder really shines: it's not like a streak counter where the streak is just broken and there's nothing you can do about it. It's not like most sites where you can fail and just walk away. You're still committed.

It can sometimes take a bit of reframing, because we're all so used to breaking the streak and then having to start over, or for a single failure at something to be so discouraging we quit. But our most hardcore users view things a different way: derailing isn't failing, it's just an incentive to keep doing better. Derailing isn't failing, it's just paying for a break when things are a bit too much, while keeping in mind the cost of doing so. Derailing isn't failing, but it is telling you something important about your workload and how you need to manage your priorities.

More on this in our now-classic blog post, Derailing Is Not Failing.

You can even take this one step further: derailing is an unambiguously good thing. Derailing It Is Nailing It!

And one more blog post turning this idea up to 11: Paying Is Not Punishment.

Keywords: newbees, introduction to Beeminder, Beeminder philosophy, seemingly perverse incentives

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