It’s a super simple strategy and only 5 seconds to help you beat procrastination, end your bad habits, and boost your performance!
In 2008, author, entrepreneur, and award-winning television commentator Mel Robbins was jobless, penniless, and out of options.
Mel’s husband Chris had made the wrong investment and the family went bankrupt. Then Mel opened a new page in her life. Simple, everyday decisions like getting out of bed in the morning suddenly turned into a real effort.
He describes those difficult times as follows:
“I just didn’t have the motivation to play those cards that life gave me and that I put on over time.”
Mel Robbins realized that he needed more than motivation to get himself out of this depressive psychology. Just as Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman discovered, he needed a strategy because 95 percent of his decisions were not based on logic or rational thinking. Because these decisions were based on emotions.
Mel Robbins continues:
“Most of the time there will be things you have to do and you won’t feel like you can do it. It’s a big mistake in moments like these to sit back and think that you just have to stay motivated!”
The 5 Second Rule
Impressed by the rocket launch video that had become a cliché in a television commercial, Robbins decided to get himself out of bed the next day with the same poise and determination. When the alarm clock rang, he counted down from five “like NASA rockets” and got out of bed.
And realized that it works, it makes it work!
So he repeated this every day. He soon began to think that anything he really didn’t want to do would be easier to handle. In just five seconds… He was now able to easily do things he didn’t want to do before. This 5 second rule soon became his new rule.
Robbins has this to say about it:
“Life and business, in particular, force you to do things that you are uncomfortable with and that you do not enjoy. This will allow you to get the results you want. The secret to overcoming it is not just waiting for the desire to do it to form in you.”
The Importance of Five Seconds
It is estimated that a person makes about 35,000 decisions a day. And often these decisions are made unconsciously. Robbins says 95% of these decisions are based on emotions. Worse still, negative emotions such as fear, anger, and uncertainty seem to have a strong influence on our decisions.
Research shows that there is a time window of roughly five seconds between a thought, idea, or intuition and the brain’s act of supporting or killing it. Robbins talks about it this way:
“You have your whole life in this five-second window. If you have that awakening and take control of the situation right before you make a decision, you will see that everything changes.”
5 Seconds Scientific Perspective
So how can something so simple have such a big impact?
Rather than defaulting to known defense mechanisms, counting backwards from five (5-4-3-2-1) forces your brain to stop, focus, and engage in something else. Your brain now allows us to avoid other strong emotions such as fear, doubt, anger, which can lead to bad decisions.
It also stimulates the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is active when changing behavior, learning something new, or directing your thoughts. Robbins says:
“Instead of letting your brain sabotage you, you are using a meta-cognition technique to shift gears in our minds and facilitate change.”