When an idea to do something bold pops into your head, you have five seconds to act on it before your brain kicks into survival mode and talks you out of it.
That’s the idea behind Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. It has nothing to do with the hot dog you dropped on the ground at the BBQ last weekend. It has everything to do with interrupting this natural defense mechanism that your brain is invoking so you can get around it and do something bold in spite of yourself.
Here’s the Rule: when you have an idea, count backward from five (5–4–3–2–1) then act. Launch, like a rocket taking off. Despite its simplicity, there’s a lot of psychology packed into it, which Mel covers.
Most of the book is dedicated to the Rule, how she came up with it, and hundreds of examples of how it has helped people change their lives ever since she mentioned it, almost in passing, at the end of her 2011 TED talk. She also goes a bit into how you can use the Rule to overcome anxiety through reframing it as excitement and how she overcame her fear of flying through anchor thoughts.
Throughout the book, she hammers home one point that I absolutely love: change is simple, not easy. There’s a difference. Having an idea isn’t going to change your life, but acting on that idea will. The 5 Second Rule is a simple tool that is surprisingly effective at closing the gap between the two.