Do you believe in fate?

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Passing someone on the street you haven’t seen for 10 years and ending-up marrying them. Noticing that same time on the clock every day only for a life-changing event to happen at that exact time, sometime later. Or, the most visible sign of fate playing its hand … running for a train or an elevator only to see the doors slide closed in front of you, and then bumping into someone you haven’t seen for years because you’re now behind your usual routine.

Whether it’s fate or simply coincidence, clearly our lives are shaped by things that are out of our control. Suddenly coming across someone you haven’t seen in 10 years might just be because they’ve recently moved into your area and share the same train or bus into the centre of town, or park in the same car park. Whether you believe that there is a bigger, “guiding hand” that moves us around our lives like pieces on a chess board or not, there are things that seem just to “happen” that can make us think twice about how our lives work.

Undoubtedly, there are things that go on without our knowledge that we can’t possibly control and that, reasonably, we can’t really attempt to.

Alternatively, there are many things that are certainly within our control that we either ignore or choose not to try and take the reins of. That might be because we don’t know how to, or because it seems like it’s just too hard to do.

We’ve just passed an annual event, New Year, for example, that many of us often use as an excuse to change something about what or how we do things – New Year resolutions. How many of us, though, honestly, just 30 or so days later either stuck to what we resolved to do for the whole month or January, or are still doing what we decided to change for the rest of our lives, starting January 1?

If we’ve slipped from that goal we set, is that because it was too hard in the first place (e.g. going to the gym 7 days a week rather than perhaps a more achievable 3) or because, actually, it’s just easier to do what we’ve always done?

Insanity or habit?

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – the quote attributed to Einstein as the definition of insanity. Clearly that is what New Year resolutions are about – making change to bring about a different “something” in your life – whether it’s getting more exercise, more sleep, more daylight, changing job, diet, cutting down smoking or all the million other things we all think we ought to change about ourselves once a year.

If we want to bring about change, or are in the slightest bit worried about something we do and at least want to reduce the risk of something bad happening to us, New Year often provides the spur we need to make that change. That’s why gym memberships spike around January – sales of indoor exercise equipment the same. It’s also why alcohol consumption drops at the same time.

It’s not just that we might hope that we’ll very soon feel better for the extra effort we’re making, it’s just as much about reducing the risks of things happening to us later in life – whether by controlling what we eat or drink a bit more, doing more exercise or cutting down on smoking. We don’t just think about “the here and now”, it’s just as much about the future.

Food, drink, cigarettes, work, exercise – they’re all key ingredients in our lifestyle – the way we live today. But what do we do every single day now that we haven’t even mentioned that takes more time and concentration than any of those things individually? We spend time online.

Whether that’s keeping up-to-date with social media, work emails, personal messaging or just general browsing, we now spend more time on that every single day than pretty much anything else … and at some pretty unsociable (and unhealthy) times of the day too!

Like it or not, our online habits are part of our lifestyle now

And yet, putting the associated health issues of doing that to one side for a moment, do we think of “risk” in the same way for our online habits as we do for all the other things we think about changing at New Year?

If not, ask yourself the same two questions we asked about all our other things we decided to change, but then fell short. Is it because the goal we set was too hard in the first place, or because it’s just easier to do what we’ve always done?

More often than not with what we do online, we simply fall into habits and then stick to them because it makes life easier. Recycling the same password just makes life so much easier, doesn’t it? Making sure our “friends” are completely up-to-date with every last thing that we did that day is what they expect, isn’t it? That’s what “friendship” is online nowadays, isn’t it?

I suspect that if you asked people to question the sanity of just those few things, at least 8 out of 10 of us would think that it sounded crazy … and yet so many of us do it. Just the same way as if, when asked about our daily habits we all replied that all we eat is processed food 5 days a week and do no exercise, probably 8 out of 10 of us would realise what that meant for our health – both in the here-and-now, and for our future.

That’s when some of us decide to make a change, to take control.

And that’s where we come in … all we’re asking you to do is to ask yourself the question as to whether what you do online is as safe as it can be, and if it isn’t, to consider doing something about it.

If you then want to do something to help yourself, don’t make the goal too hard – don’t go from zero days a week at the gym to attempting to go every single day. Set a reasonable target – if you only use one password for most of your online accounts, try using 3 or 4 … or 5 and try and make each one “strong” and unique.

We have so many tools and tips to help you do that, we can make that change even easier for you.

Just like any resolution though, you have to want to make a change … the question is, do you?

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