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The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins • how to change your life • overcoming procrastination

Book cover of The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

There are thousands of shallow books speaking about how to take action, how to find courage and motivation and so on, but this book is really worth reading. At least you should know the rule as it has a scientific background. The 5 second rule talks about how to overcome our natural tendency to procrastinate various things. When you fear something or when you feel like you do not want to do something that you should be doing, we might call it anxiety or procrastination. You might call it also resistance which means anything that stops you from moving from a lower level of action to a higher level. There are many examples of such behaviours – speaking out when you need to speak out, getting up out of your bed in the morning, going to the gym, going for a run, getting to work on time, calling back to your friend, decision to not look for a job actually, it might be anything that would improve some part of your life.

We all make all these tiny decisions all day long, and we don’t even realise it. All these actions or, actually, lack of them, take us so far off track. Then, suddenly, you might wake up one day, like Mel once did, and you look at your life from a broader perspective, and you think, “How the hell did I get this place” and more importantly, you think how can you could get back to the place before your choices.

The story presented above is not theoretical, at age of 41, Mel found herself like a complete failure. After a few years of running her restaurant business, she went bankrupt. To make it worse not only she had lost all of her savings, but also so many of her friends and family members had invested in the business.  There was real tension between the truth of what was happening and what she had to do in public because her business was public. She named it a shame, failure, embarrassment.

So once she woke up and she had trouble with standing up, she was depressed. She knew what she needed to do, but somehow she felt this resistance. Suddenly, she recalled some document about NASA spaceships seen on TV the day before, and she decided to be like one of these rockets. Instead of hitting the snooze button she said five, four, three, two, one and shot out of her bed like a rocket and started her day.  Later, she started using that over and over again in order to overcome her blockades. 

“Change is hard. Logically, we know what we should do, but our feelings about doing it make our decision for us. How you feel in the moment is almost never aligned with your goals and dreams. If you only act when you feel like it, you will never get what you want. You must learn how to separate what you feel from the actions that you take. You can’t control how you feel. But you can always choose how you act.”

There is a lot of psychological reasons behind this approach. Simply put, we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable, difficult or frightening. Our brain is designed to protect us from all these things because our brain is trying to keep us alive. In order to change, in order to be the best spouse, in order to develop our career, all these things that you know you want to achieve in your life, with your dreams,  aspirations, with your business you are going to have to do things that are tough, uncertain or scary. So our minds are designed to stop us, at all cost, from doing anything that might hurt us. We all have a habit of hesitating. As an example, we are sitting in a meeting and you have this incredible, bright idea, and instead of just vocalising it you stop and you hesitate.

Now, none of us realises that when we hesitate for a few seconds, just that micro-moment allows our brain to send a stress signal to whole your body, and after five seconds it’s done, our brain win. “Right before we’re about to do something that feels difficult, scary or uncertain, we hesitate. Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than—you guessed it—five seconds.”

Next, thanks to social media, the book provides a few stories of other people who embraced this approach and succeeded in various areas. This was actually my most favourite part – reading about other people’s stories, about their courage and how they decided to do something different with their lives and how they made a huge change.

The five-second rule is very simple and there are many ways to attack this problem, but I really enjoyed how the author gave her advice. The book is very entertaining and supported by good psychology of life. You don’t necessarily agree with everything Mel says in the book but it’s an encouraging book and I believe there is a lot of wisdom in the book.

On the other hand, I have to say that the book redundant. I got it from the marketing point of view. You need to add fluff such as countless paraphrases, bigger fonts, major quotes and summaries to make the book’s size bigger.

The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage
by Mel Robbins

Final rating:

Interesting story
Complexity of ideas
Flourish language

In the article I made use of a few author’s interviews.

Book details:

Size: 267 pages
Published: 2017


Other information and reviews of this book on Goodreads:

Other useful links:
Mel Robbins’ website:
Mel Robbins on Wikipedia:
Other book talking about motivation and procrastination:  Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

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