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The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins - 3 Big Ideas

This has got to be the best life-hack ever


Welcome to 3 Things You Can Use, where Maddi and I decode self-improvement and entrepreneurship through books, three things at a time.

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This week's book is The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins.

The 5 Second Rule is oh so simple, but it has oh so much impact.

From activation energy, locus of control, starting rituals, metacognition, progress psychology and about four other buzzwords, this rule will have you reeling in excitement for your new lifestyle.

So, what are three things we can use from this book?

3 Things You Can Use

1. 5,4,3,2,1

You wanna know what the 5 second rule is?

Do ya?

Well I'll tell you in a minute.

Have you ever been in bed, it's early and you've got to get up for your super important day... but you just can't get up?

Or how about when you're sitting on the couch watching Netflix on your TV or your computer and you really want your house to be clean but you can't break the cycle of watching episode after episode to actually get up and clean it...

Well if you've been in these situations, or ones similar, then The 5 Second Rule is going to light you up.

What is The 5 Second Rule? It's a countdown. 5,4,3,2,1. A five second countdown.

Wait! Don't leave! This really works, seriously.

As soon as you get an instinct to do something good for you, countdown from 5, in your head or out loud, and physically move.

This interrupts your rationalization, "oh tomorrow will be a better day for this."

It interrupts your habit loops, "I'll do it after this episode."

And it gets you out of your head and gets you into action.

And you know what else it does...?

2. Action

Lights, Camera, Sit and think!

The 5 Second Rule pits acting on a split decision against sitting and deliberating. The prize? Fulfilment.

Guess which one wins?

When you choose to sit and think about whether to get out of bed or not, your best interests are not going to prevail.

Choosing to sit and think is choosing to let your feelings be the deciders. A few seconds of hesitation is all it takes to give your feelings the reins and kick your best interests out of the buggy.

But having the instinct to get out of bed and act on the split decision, 5,4,3,2,1, is going to get you out of bed, before your feelings get a chance to pamper and soothe you back to sleep while ignoring the life that you want for yourself.

As Tony Robbins says, "In your head, you're dead."

5,4,3,2,1 simple and action-orienting.

Though this isn't being a yes-person where you just say yes to everything. This isn't being an act on every impulse person or a never deliberate a decision person. In order to avoid this, this follows a simple rule. If it will make your life better or if it's good for you, 54321 do it.

So, when you first wake up and you get the impulse to get out of bed, don't hesitate. 5,4,3,2,1 get up.

Or, when you see the CEO and you really want to go talk to them, as soon as you get that impulse, 5,4,3,2,1 go talk to them.

3. The Psychology

The psychology of this rule is really surprising. It's just stacked with psychological tricks and benefits, and it's only a simple little countdown.

Starting with the countdown element of it. You have to count down because you aren't left with anything else but what you've decided to do when you reach zero. Counting up to five just makes you want to say six.

The 5 Second Rule is also known in habit psychology as a starting ritual. Habits are made up of cues, routines and rewards. 5,4,3,2,1 stands in as a cue, aka a starting ritual, for good habits. You can start your new habit of running by counting down from five and then putting on your running gear.

It also helps you to break the barrier of starting an activity. Have you ever noticed that it's much easier to clean your house once you've already started, than it is to get off you butt and begin? This is like in physics. To get something to move it takes more initially than it does to sustain the movement.

The 5 Second Rule gives you enough activation energy by distracting you from your emotions and smoothing out the transition to begin in the first place.

And finally, and most importantly, The rule helps with your psychology of the locus of control.

"The more that you believe that you are in control of your life, your actions and your future, that the control is in you, the happier and more successful you are going to become."

When you believe you are the locus of control, you are happier. The one way that psychology has shown to increase your feelings of control in you life is to have a bias towards action.

Acting, as opposed to choosing to stay in bed or to keep watching TV or to put your head down and avoid the CEO, acting is what fills the bucket of control.

This rule is metacognition at it's most fundamental. Trick your feelings and lizard brain and put your best interests in the cock-pit with 5,4,3,2,1.


About to ruin your day by deciding to stay in bed? 5,4,3,2,1 and get out of bed!

Actions are usually the better choice if the alternative is to do nothing.

The 5 second countdown is a wrench to throw into the psychological gears of laziness and procrastination.

The 5 Second Rule can be a game-changer. The rule doesn't make things easier -- but it makes them happen.

This book also, through the lens of the 5 second rule, covers topics like anxiety reappraisal, focus, some research on sleep inertia, procrastination, anchor thoughts and authentic pride, so if you're interested, check it out below!

That's all for this one!

Thank you for watching, if you're not subscribed, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss next week's video, and -

we'll see you next week!

Want to Read it?

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The 5 Second Rule (Audible Version)

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(These links give me a little bump if you decide to use them. Thank you!)


Punching Sounds by: Mike Koenig

Reading Photo at end of video by: Marketa

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