Why the 5-second rule works for life

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The Science Behind the Rule

Can change your life in five seconds? Heck no! However, overtime baby steps and actionable habits can lead to success. You do not need some special tool, course, or book to change your life. What you will need is force behind you and the thing that can help or hurt you – your brain.

Years ago, I was working at an organization that focused on mental health. My role was public relations and communications and I set out to stop the stigma of mental health. Little did I know I would come down with a severe case of anxiety and mild depression. It got to the point that I was literally crying in my office about four times a day.

Reaching Out for Help

That is a story for another day. Here is the shortcut to the happy conclusion, I got help.

I had the opportunity to talk to a therapist about my stress, my workload, my fears, and my demanding schedule. I am grateful that I had that opportunity to talk to someone, because I know some people do not know whom to turn to in these situations. My husband and my close family knew what I was going through and were super supportive, but I wanted and needed a professional.

The greatest takeaway from visiting the therapist was she instructed me to write down five things I wanted to accomplish for that day and only do those things and nothing more.

Simply huh?

I implemented that because it was simple enough for me to remember and keep up the habit.

I only had a few sessions with her because thankfully, I left that job. I had to leave.

Six years later, I do not regret leaving.

Why did it take a therapist to tell me to pace myself? When I started implementing boundaries and mindset changes into my daily routine, my life forever changed.

But why did I wait so long to get help and to ultimately leave my job? Why did I wait until I was crying in my office four times a day, after meetings, and on the weekends? I’m not sure.

Moving From Autopilot to Decision Maker

Now I know my health and wellbeing are worth more that climbing up some make-believe career ladder.

I wish I had more tools in my toolbox like “write down 5 things every day to accomplish” or the 5-second rule I learned from motivation guru Mel Robbins.

Here is the science behind the 5-second rule and it is not the one where you quickly pick up food from the floor. Ha!

What does it take to move from autopilot to decision maker?

Think about all the places that you can use the 5-second rule. Negotiations, family, grocery store, gym.

You realize the amount of hopes and dreams and potential you discard when you overthink. We all know what to do, but none of us know how to make ourselves do it. – Mel Robbins

Go back and read the secret of breaking a bad habit. Mel Robbin’s cornerstone message is there.

Here is the short version…

Your mind is going to protect you by not letting you do anything too risky. Its job is protect you. The mind can also move you into action. Outsmart your brain with the 5-second rule. Here is what you do.

Now count down from five – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Again 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Say it with gusto! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!

Eventually, you will get into the habit of doing this starting ritual and take action on all the things you need to accomplish.

Simple. Don’t make this hard.

Five second rule for life, trick your mind to work for you not against you

The Science: Metacognition

How does something so simple work? Metacognition. It is defined as awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. Thinking about your thinking.

You can outsmart your own brain in furtherance if it is important to you. “When you count backgrounds, 5,4,3,2, 1, you interrupt what researchers call habit loops, encoded in your basal ganglia (the part of the brain that controls habits and emotions),” says Mel.

It moves to your prefrontal vortex and when you hit number 1 in the countdown, your habit has been interrupted. You have interrupted procrastination. You are now off autopilot into decision mode.

Mel says the countdown is a starting ritual. The 5-second rule, when repeated, triggers you to act in confidence.

It does not work if you count up because you can just keep going.

Counting down requires focus.

5,4,3,2,1, prompts you to move.

Think about the military and how they use counting down to line up troops. Or in a large assembly to quiet noisy kids in a gym.

The 5-second rule works on your mind too. Tell your mind to do something and it works for you.

Mel says, when you have a chance to go from autopilot to decision maker, everything changes. EVERYTHING.

Are you stuck? Do you need a countdown? Say it out loud 5,4,3,2,1 and just do the thing!

Do you like motivation and mindset posts like this one? Let me know in the comments.


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