What is the "akrasia horizon"?

A short phrase we coined that basically means "you can't make your goal easier any earlier than 7 days from today." Changing the goal parameters, quitting the goal, lowering the amount of money at stake — all changes that don't happen immediately. Beeminder is about committing to goals, so we intentionally make it a little difficult to get out of your commitment. If you could just change the terms and make it easier any time you wanted, you might never get anything done — completely defeating the purpose of creating the goal!

Why a week? Akrasia (see also: dynamic inconsistency, hyperbolic discounting) means over-weighting immediate consequences, so to beat akrasia you only need to bind yourself for whatever the horizon on “immediate” is. Based on a study of grocery-buying habits — when buying groceries online for delivery tomorrow people buy a lot more ice cream and a lot fewer vegetables than when they’re ordering for delivery next week — and raw guesswork (so far), we’re taking that Akrasia Horizon to be one week.

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