Three monthses

By Dr Lucy Rogers. Posted

You can do anything for just three months. And Life is just a succession of three-monthses.” Tweeted Nessa Cason (@SuperScienceGrl) recently.

The phrase ‘three monthses’ has a lovely comfortable Winnie-the-Pooh feel about it. They’re simple to visualise. Things of the unexpected, or unknown unknowns, are less likely to occur in that time. In three months, things are pretty much going to be how they are now, with maybe a slight variation in the weather. So to change something in my life and ‘only have to do it for three months’ is possible. There are various ‘100 day’ challenges out there, but, to me, three months sounds a lot less daunting. There’s only three of them, for a start.

Nessa readily agreed that the ‘three monthses’ was “shamelessly stolen from Malcolm Tucker’s ‘life is just a succession of five-minuteses’.” But threes are better. Lots of things come in threes – wishes, primary colours, little pigs, and blind mice, to name a few. In photography, there’s a rule of thirds. In storytelling, the ‘rule of threes’ is known as a triad, and ‘the three R’s’ used to be Reading, Writing, and Wroughting (making). If only that had remained the case…

I have found it also only takes three days to go from ‘this is really hard, awkward, strange’ to ‘this is okay, I can do this’. And by a day, I probably mean eight hours. A while ago I completed a bushcraft survival course where, using nothing but our skill, knowledge, and determination – and a knife – we made fire, built a shelter, foraged for plants, and tried to work out how to catch a fish. After three days (and because we had found some carbohydrates), we were almost comfortable. Everything we did after that made life a little more pleasant.

The same when I started soldering – I had designed and ordered a large pile of Open Collector Driver PCB’s (see p44 for the circuit) so I could control small motors from a Raspberry Pi. After three days (I took breaks!) my soldering skills had improved from ‘I need to gear myself up to do this’ to ‘oh, the soldering iron is already on and in my hand’ without me thinking about it.

And to make this a triad, there’s the first three days of a new job. Day one is daunting, you’re learning important things like where the toilet is, what the WiFi code is and so on. By day three, you even know the name of the person you are sitting next to and may even be recognised at reception.

These rules are just guidelines, of course. You won’t get the third degree if you break them…

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