A super simple strategy that will help you beat procrastination, end your bad habits and improve your performance, and it’s only for 5 seconds!
In 2008, author, entrepreneur, and award-winning television commentator Mel Robbins was jobless, penniless, and out of options.
Mel’s husband Chris had made a wrong investment and the family went bankrupt. Then Mel turned over a new leaf in her own life. Simple, everyday decisions, such as getting out of bed in the morning, suddenly turned into a real effort.
She 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 she needed more than motivation to get herself out of this depressive psychology. Just as Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman discovered, she needed a strategy because 95 percent of her 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 only have to stay motivated!”
The 5 Second Rule
Impressed by the rocket launch video that had become a cliché in a television commercials, Robbins decided to get herself out of bed the next day with the same poise and determination. When the alarm clock rang, she counted down from five “like NASA rockets” and got out of bed.
And realized that it works, it makes it work!
So she repeated this every day. She soon began to think that anything she’s not really willing to do would be easier to handle. In just five seconds… She was now able to easily do things she didn’t want to do before. This 5 second rule soon became her new rule.
Robbins has this to say about it:
“Life, and business in particular, is about pushing yourself to do the things that are uncomfortable so that you can achieve the results that you want. The secret is all about not waiting until you feel like it.”
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 the way we feel in the moment. What’s worse, negative emotions like fear, anger, and uncertainty seem to have strong influence over 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 emotions growing such as fear, doubt, anger, which could 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 switch the gears in our minds and facilitate change.”