What is the akrasia horizon?

Roughly it means you can't make your goal easier any earlier than 7 days from today. Changing the goal parameters, quitting the goal, and lowering the amount of money at stake are all changes that don't happen immediately. Beeminder is about committing to goals, so we intentionally make it hard 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 more ice cream and fewer vegetables than when they’re ordering for delivery next week — and raw guesswork (so far, though backed up by years of experience now!), we’re taking that Akrasia Horizon to be one week.


Keywords: time horizon beyond which you can change your goal

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