What is it about the human psyche that convinces you whenever you enter a competition or buy a raffle ticket that you’re going to win? I mean, deep down, if you were honest with yourself, you’d realise the odds are totally against you. But just the thought of scoring something for nothing creates such a frisson of excitement that I’ve decided it’s an essential part of any list of fun activities. So:
#7 Enter competitions
This isn’t a new venture for me. Some sixteen years ago, I won a trip to New York, flying business class and staying at a 5-star hotel on Fifth Avenue for a week with $1000 spending money.
I‘m not joking.
It was the most magnificent holiday of my life. However, it stopped me entering any more competitions for several years. As a prize, it was – well – un-toppable.
But with that now a distant memory and with time on my hands, I’ve been revisiting the heady days of entering competitions.
People who regularly win prizes say there are certain tricks to increasing your chances. The big Jackpot lotteries are fine if you like dreaming large, but with the odds of winning them somewhere around 1 in 20 million, the emphasis is on ‘dreaming’ here. No, they recommend trying smaller, perhaps local competitions, especially if there’s a bit of effort involved. Apparently the 25-words-or-less type of competition cuts out a lot of potential entrants who don’t get around to thinking up a slogan, so this shortens your odds.
Reading the free local newspaper a few months ago, I found an article about renovations being done to a well-known hotel in the main street. As a piece of journalism, it wasn’t all that fascinating – until I hit the last line. They were offering a $100 dinner voucher for the person who emailed them with the best name for their planned roof-top restaurant!
My frisson came back. How many people would read this slightly dull article to the very end? And then think up a name for the restaurant? And then send it in? I figured I had about a 1 in 4 chance of winning this voucher.
It seems that no one else read the article to the end, no one else came up with a name, so together with 6 friends, I enjoyed a delightful $100 meal on my birthday in the rooftop restaurant when it opened. (And fortunately, not named after my suggestion)
Then I was visiting my local bakery a few weeks back when a sign said that if you put your name and address on the back of your docket and left it in the box on the counter, you had a chance of winning 3 bottles of wine.
When they didn’t actually print out and give me a docket for my purchase, I realised that would probably reduce the playing field quite a bit, so the next time I bought bread, I stood my ground, insisted on my docket, filled out the details and dropped it in the box.
Bingo! The next week I got a call to say I’d won 3 bottles of wine. Clearly I was their only demanding customer that week.
Of course, there’ll be endless times when you don’t win anything, but even then, there can be surprising advantages.
For almost a year, I’ve been entering a monthly competition where I have to take a photo of myself in my garden for a particular horticultural company. No luck in the winning stakes of course, but I’ve now realised that I have twelve months worth of terrific photos of my garden in all its seasonal glory.
A clever friend recently told me about snapfish, a website that allows you to convert your photos into all sorts of products, ranging from photo albums, cards, wall art and the like for very reasonable rates. So now I plan to turn my twelve losing entries into a calendar of the garden.
It’s just a pity that I’m holding up the company’s gardening product with a silly grin on my face in every photo…