How much simpler does it need to get? A quick course of action that continues to change the trajectory of my life; day after day, decision after decision. And I’m not even finished the book.
The 5 Second Rule had been popping up in my Audible recommended reading list for the past several months, given my proclivity to download the work of self-help (or as I prefer self-awareness) authors. After Mel Robbins’ name came up in conversation repeatedly last week, I was prompted to take action and downloaded the book for my Alberta road-trip. And I’m so grateful I did.
Before I even completed the book, I decided to put Mel’s 5 Second Rule to the test and was amazed with the results.
What exactly is the #5SecondRule? It’s a simple, research backed metacognition tool that creates immediate and lasting behavioural change.
If you’re not familiar with Mel’s work, I bet you’re asking two questions; First, what is the 5 Second Rule? And, second, what were the results? Let me start with the first. The 5 Second Rule is tool you can implement when you’re feeling fear, dread, doubt or worry come over you in those immediate moments following your inclination to get something done; pay a bill, call a relative, hit the gym, make a smoothie, think a happier thought.
Rather than procrastinating and rationalizing why, or why not, to take action, you simply count back from five: five, four, three, two, one... and move on it. That’s it. It’s that simple. And I can tell you, from personal experience it works. Mel outlines the science behind it in her book. But if you’re looking for a game changer, look no further.
By the fifth chapter, my curiosity got the better of me and I was itching to try it out. En route to see a friend, Kari sends me a message letting me know she’s stuck in a meeting and invites me to wait at a nearby coffee shop. As I’m driving, I know there is a beautiful walking trail to my left, or the coffee shop to the right. My brain moves to rationalize why taking a walk in my formal business attire may not be the best choice, although I know I have trail runners packed in the trunk. Perfect moment to try the rule out. Five, four, three, two, one... cross over three lanes of traffic and turn left. As I near the park, I realize another friend, I haven’t connected with in years, lives a block away. I start rationalizing why dropping in on friends unannounced is rude and completely unacceptable. I “five, four, three, two, one it” and turn left on her street. I kid you not, she was just stepping out the front door with Taxi and Tupac (her dogs), about to take them for a walk. Needless to say, we spent over two hours catching up and reconnecting.
Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for just a 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.
The following day, I’m in sitting in Calgary’s airport lounge, waiting the two hours before my 8pm return flight home, when I look across the room to see Darci Lang, author of the brilliant book Focus on the 90%. In the best of circumstances, I would be running through my cross-check list before making an approach: buttons done-check, teeth clear of debris-check, breath minty fresh-check. But today of all days, had been a long, hot, grueling day. I resorted to putting my hair up in a messy top knot and kicking off my heals in favour of a pair of tried but true mules, and vowing to do what it would take to make it through the next three hours, until I could make it into my comfy, beckoning bed.
And there, in the middle of my “just-hold-it-together” commitment, sat Darci. Looking fresh, brilliant, and radiantly positive. You know where this is going. That’s right, I sucked it up, top knot and all, counted back from five, told the bartender I was momentarily abandoning my station at the bar, but I’d be back, and slid out of my chair, put one foot in front of the other, until I found myself standing in front of Darci Lang, telling her how much I enjoyed her book, and the influence her work has had on me. We proceeded to chat about writing, books and presenting, and before I knew it, we were exchanging contact information in the hopes of possibly collaborating on a future project. So there you have it. It wasn’t perfection. Heck, it wasn’t even pretty, but it was real, and it was proactive!
Ten chapters, three days and five seconds later... my journey has taken a new trajectory, and I’m only just getting started. Now to return CRA’s call! :) Five, four, three, two, one...