The 5-second rule

One of the quickest hacks to snap yourself out of procrastination or your comfort zone takes only five seconds. How? Simple. Just count down to five.

I learned this strategy from Mel Robbin’s book The 5-second Rule and it has worked wonders since I’ve started to use it! Alright, full-disclosure — I have used this and a couple other variants throughout my life but it’s only now that I know it’s a legit “rule.” (Wink, wink.)

Here’s what I love about this rule — it gives me just enough time to distract myself from acting on my impulses, urges or even anxieties! Instead of doing what I would usually do, I found myself redirecting my energy to do something positive.

For example, I almost never write at this time. It’s close to 6 in evening and I’m tired, disoriented and almost irritated (just being honest, though I try my best to be happier) from a hard day’s work. And there’s still a lot to be done! I was in my recliner and thought of trying out this experiment. I counted down from 5, pulled out my phone and started to write.

So, what’s great? I won’t have to wrestle with my mind going through the same excuses that I bring up for not writing today. (You thought writing every day is easy? It’s not. But it’s not only when you don’t schedule it. And I usually don’t. There! I found a solution too!) But guess, what, the past couple of days I’ve tried the 5-second rule right before I write and it has worked magically!

I’m wondering if writers who wait for inspiration to strike can benefit from this rule. My guess is, absolutely! While counting down wouldn’t change your life (at least not right away), it will give you a shot of adrenaline and make you a more courageous person.

Think about the last time you were in a meeting hesitant to raise a point. What might have happened if you had used the 5-second rule? Without a doubt, you would raise your hands and make your point. I know that for sure because I’ve done that in the past. Not that I’m afraid of speaking in public or making myself heard but there are times when your mind’s trying to convince you to play it safe out of either necessity or procrastination (which is our way to cope up with stress).

I know I do this well when I’m just about to squat or bench or deadlift a heavyweight (especially a PR). I refocus my thoughts and reset my mind by counting down. You know how it feels when the lift is over and you’ve achieved a personal record. It’s just out of the world.

The applications to the 5-second rule are varied. The best way to use it is to try it often. What are you waiting for?

Five, four, three, two, one…

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