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The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins: Book Summary

The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins: Book Summary

Wouldn't it be great to hit every aspect of your day with the power of a rocket ship? Strangely enough, you actually can. Well, according to world renowned speaker, CNN contributor and best selling author Mel Robbins. She created the 5 Second Rule strategy around this very principle, then she wrote an amazing book about it.

Let’s look at how she details out this principle in her book... 

The 5 Second Rule Summary

Launching Like A Rocket

Counting is a tactic you have probably used many times to motivate yourself to do something. Maybe it is 1, 2, 3… ready? Or maybe you have counted backwards from 10 slowly to calm your nerves or your temper. Mel Robbins created her own simple counting technique that does involve rocket ships!

Before she was the commanding figure she is today, she was unemployed with little money, drinking more than she should, and struggling to be the wife and mother that her family needed. One morning, after seeing a television commercial that showed a rocket launch countdown, she decided to launch herself out of bed in the same way. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… go!

Remarkably, it got her out of bed. That was the birth of The 5 Second Rule and the life changing principles behind it. 

The Principles Of The Rule

Mel describes her rule as, “If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.” So if you are not happy with where you are in your life, then you can use Mel’s 3 reasons to change your path. 

Reason 1: Little acts of courage make you braver over time

Who is your biggest hero? They probably stand out to you as an amazing person with strength, bravery and success. But have you ever thought about where they began? They weren’t always that strong, brave and successful. In fact, they may even have begun shy, anxious and lacking in confidence.

Instead of magically becoming this heroic figure, they actually just made small and courageous choices throughout their life that began to add up. Each one of those choices put them that little bit closer to the success that impresses you. They all add up to the thing that you idolize your hero for.

Mel uses the example of Rosa Parks to demonstrate this principle. On 1st December 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat on the bus despite the fact that she was black and the law stated she must stand for the white person who had just boarded. So, she was arrested. Four days later, she recruited a young preacher to help her organize a protest. He readily agreed and took the lead. That young preacher turned out to be Martin Luther King Jr.

Who could ever have predicted that these 2 potentially insignificant actions would be the building blocks for the Civil Rights Movement? These two did not know that they were making history, they just listened to their gut when it told them to act in a certain way. They would soon discover that ‘from each small act of courage, more courage follows.’ It simply builds, until you look back and realise how courageous you have been overall.

Reason 2: Don't waste time waiting for the right time

There will never be a perfect time to do something. There will always be reasons to procrastinate, or to scrap your plans entirely. You know that you want to change your life, but you spend most of your time waiting for the right moment for change to occur.

Deep down you probably know that moment is never going to happen. But you cling to it for 3 key reasons…

  1. Change is always new
  2. Change always bring uncertainty
  3. It is always scary

Regardless if what you want to do in your life, those three factors are always there. Whatever you want that you don't already have, will require you to do new, uncertain and scary things. There are no guarantees that a new venture will succeed, and it will be scary while you experiment.

Because you know these three factors will always be there, why delay? Why not just jump in and start today? There is no reason to wait around as the circumstances are not going to change. Use the five second rule to get you started, even if the first action is only a small one. It will be your first act of courage. 

Reason 3: Feelings are just suggestions you can override

Why do we insist on procrastinating? Mel answers this question by referring to world renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio's work, Descartes’ Error. He details that up to 95% of our decisions are based on our feelings and not on fact. He calls us ‘feeling machines that think, not thinking machines that feel’.

What he means is that we feel before we act, as opposed to thinking before we act. Because of this tendency, the simple reason we procrastinate is because we don't feel like doing something.

Mel suggests that we take our inspiration from athletes instead. Athletes consider their feelings to be suggestions, which gives them the ability to override them. They can then use the 5 second rule to push them forward to their goal. Have you ever felt like your legs were going to collapse, but you still managed to run further? Then you know that it is possible to override your feelings.

This is the simple act of psychological intervention. You are changing your behavior to impact how you feel instead of letting your feelings dictate your behavior. So if you choose good behavior, you will have good feelings as a result.

Mel Robbins is living proof that you can use the five second rule to change your life. That if you can push past the procrastination with small acts of courage, you can encourage good feelings by carrying out good behavior.

Are you ready to change your life? 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… go!

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