In this post I will share my review of The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. I LOVE this book and have used the method myself so will surely be able to answer the question, Does the 5 Second Rule Work?
How did The 5 Second Rule come about?
Mel Robbins was going through an especially trying time in her life. She had enjoyed success as a personal coach previously and (to cut a long story short!) was excited to be offered a job as the host of a TV reality show. However, it was not meant to be and the show got shelved after only a few weeks – just at the worst possible time, when her husband’s business, into which they had sunk every penny, including the house, started to fail.
It was at this time that she got into the habit of hitting the snooze button on her alarm clock – facing the reality of the financial struggle (which was also having a negative impact on her marriage), was just too hard. She would then get up late which meant the kids were late for school, she couldn’t face the thought of starting to look for a job and had started drinking to excess in the evenings.
In her heart, she knew that she had to change – she desperately wanted to, and told herself that tomorrow would be different but still found herself reaching for the snooze button despite her good intentions.
Then one night, just before she went to bed, there was a rocket-launch on the TV with the familiar 5-4-3-2-1 countdown and she thought ‘That’s it, I’ll launch myself out of bed tomorrow…like a rocket. I’ll move so fast I won’t have time to talk myself out of it’. Incredibly, when her alarm went off next morning, she counted down as planned 5…4…3…2…1. and stood up!
Why does it work?
What Mel had been doing during this period when she couldn’t face life, was taking the time to think about whether to take action or not. In her negative frame of mind, it isn’t surprising that she decided against taking action. And it wasn’t just getting up in the morning (although that was where it all started), it was talking herself out of looking for a job, taking some exercise or having a drink. The magic of the 5 Second Rule is that when you act within 5 seconds, you don’t allow your brain the time needed to talk yourself out of it.
Mel believes it was her subconscious mind, her inner wisdom signaling her to pay attention to the rocket launch and sending her a very clear set of instructions. She says ‘When it comes to goals, dreams, and changing your life your inner wisdom is a genius. Your goal-related impulses, urges and instincts are there to guide you. You need to learn to bet on them.’
Mel was absolutely dumbfounded that something so simple could work – but it did work. Every. Single. Time. Then an interesting thing happened – she started to see opportunities to use the Rule in other areas of her life. Previously, if she knew she should do something, she would think about it then come up with a whole load of excuses.
So she made a promise to herself – if she could see an opportunity to do something that would be a change for the better, she would use the Rule. Again, it worked! Going for a run, drinking when she shouldn’t, being mean to her husband, looking for a job, you name it. And her life was back on track. Yes, she still had a mountain to climb but was completely committed to turning her life around using The 5 Second Rule.
What else does it work for?
One of the key concepts of the book is that succeeding in life takes courage and that can even, sometimes, mean just getting up in the morning. Additionally, some people are naturally predisposed to a lack of self-esteem and for others, it’s been life’s knocks over the years that have found them lacking the confidence to speak up.
Mel studied people over the years who have shown great courage and found something very interesting. When Rosa Parks, the woman who sparked the American Civil Rights Movement in 1955, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, she said that she had just had enough. She had not planned it, in fact didn’t take a moment to think about it, she just acted. And that is the key. Had she stopped to think about it, the chances are she would have talked herself out of it and the course of history may have been different!
How can you use it?
Think of the last time you could have done with a bit of courage but backed down. Maybe you should have spoken up about a family situation you were not happy with, or maybe you should have gone ahead and got the information you needed about going to back to study, to start a business or apply for a new job. You can use the 5 Second Rule to take action in any area where you find yourself stuck.
Mel says ‘You may think you’re protecting yourself from judgment, rejection, or upsetting someone, but when you make excuses and talk yourself into waiting, you are limiting your ability to make your dreams come true’.
Have a think about something that you struggle with. Especially in these challenging times (at the time of writing, let’s just say that most of us have got more time on our hands than we need!), what can you not get done? You can use the Rule to get going with all things, large and small. If you don’t feel like it but you really want to get it done, the 5 Second Rule is your go-to solution!
How can something so simple have such a massive impact?
Essentially the 5 Second Rule works because it is so simple. Your mind is constantly trying to find ways to stop you from stepping out and taking action (keeping you ‘safe’) but when you act within the 5 seconds you bypass your hardwiring and get on with the task.
Who is this book for?
This book is for anyone who wants to change their behavior so they can pursue the life they want. It can be used to improve your health, increase productivity, end procrastination (I mentioned this book in 10 Ways to Stop Procrastinating by the way), end anxiety, beat fear, build confidence, pursue passion and enrich relationships. Who wouldn’t want that? Unless your life is perfect from top to bottom, you need this book!
One Last Thought
I first learned about The 5 Second Rule through a YouTube video, and when I saw there was a book, I thought ‘why do I need a book for such a simple philosophy?’. However, I came across the book in hardback in a shop, started reading it and could not put it down! It is so well written and even has an explanation of how to handle anxiety (which Mel has suffered from in the past). I have used the Rule myself and can tell you it absolutely works. From getting up for my Miracle Mornings (it’s such a habit now I don’t need to use it anymore) to something simple but irksome like ironing a cushion cover that I DID NOT want to iron – I can get the job done. There are also many testimonials in the book from people who have used it to change their lives. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Have you read this book or have you had any experience of using The 5 Second Rule? If so, please let me know about your experience in the comments as I would love to hear your views.