Happy new year!

Sawn-off party popperHappy 2013!

Not wanting to overdo it, I’ve limited my blog to one post per year. Ha ha. I’m not a new year resolutions kind of guy, because resolutions are hard to keep and only make you feel guilty when they’re broken, but I will try to post more often over this coming 12 months. But if I don’t, see you in 2014!

The picture by the way is Matt’s sawn-off party popper. Don’t try this at home kids.

3 Tiny Habits

I’m excited to have been picked to join BJ Fogg’s 3 Tiny Habits programme for this coming week. Dr Fogg is founder and director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, and an expert on the psychology of persuasion. His behaviour model and in particular the behaviour grid are worth checking out.

The 3 Tiny Habits programme is a way of looking at how people form habits. As I am both a serial procrastinator and someone who finds it hard to stick to routines, I thought I’d give it a go. So I signed up and found out yesterday that I got accepted on the programme. The instructions are simply, very simple, but that’s the point.

  1. Pick something simple & easy to do in very little time.
  2. Decide when to do it.
  3. Practice.

There’s more to it than that but I’ll wait until after the programme to describe more. In the meantime, writing down the 3 habits I will try to form over the coming week is a way of declaring publicly my commitment. Mine are:

  1. After I finish my breakfast, I will write down on an index card 3 things that I want to do during the day.
  2. After I eat my lunch, I will take my vitamin tablets.
  3. After I have cleared up after dinner I will post a single Tweet describing one thing that I have learnt during the day.

See, I said they were simple. Of course with some willpower you wouldn’t need to join a programme to create such simple habits. But that would miss the point I think. Doing things in a group like this strengthens the behaviour. The really fun and rewarding part will be building bigger habits in the future. From little acorns to great oak trees grow.

Why you should be thankful to find that you have not won the lottery

As I start to write this piece, it’s just before 7pm on Saturday 13th August. Despite owning a ticket for the UK National Lottery draw at 8pm tonight, I will be pleased if I find out that I have not won, and so too should you if you also find out you have not won. In fact you and I and indeed all of us should be thankful, because it will mean we have survived until 8pm. You see the odds of winning the UK lottery, approximately 14,000,000 to 1 are around the same odds that you or I will not have died in the run up to the lottery draw.

According to Ronnie Bowie, the former President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as reported on the BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme broadcast yesterday, buying a lottery ticket anything more than an hour or so before the draw is risky if you are middle aged like me, because you are more likely to die during the hour in the run up to the draw than you are of winning the lottery itself. In fact only males under the age of 19 and females under the age of 37 have slightly less statistical risk of dying in the hour before lottery draw than they have of winning it.

So regardless of whether you think winning the lottery will make you happier (odds are it probably won’t even if you did win), the chances of doing so are so small compared to the risk of you dying, that to live to find you are one of the millions of ticket holders who have not won today should be a cause for rejoice. For to have lived thus far means you get to live a little while longer, well, at least for another hour or so. Make the most of every moment you have. There is only this moment, and it will last a lifetime.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.