When the alarm clock went off each morning all Mel Robbins felt was dread. She didn’t want to face the day.
She hit snooze and kept pressing it until she had to crawl out of bed. She was broke, exhausted and her marriage was falling apart. Feeling stuck, she escaped by sleeping as much as she could and drinking too much. The more she thought about her life, the more afraid she was to do anything. Even the smallest things like getting up to make her kids breakfast felt hard.
Every night she’d promise herself that the next day would be different. That she’d wake up earlier, have a better attitude, be nicer to her husband, go to the gym. But the next morning, when the alarm would go off, her old fears would come back and she’d hit the snooze button again.
One night, after a couple of drinks, Mel saw a commercial that featured a rocket launch. Why can’t I do that too? she thought to herself. Launch myself up like a rocket? 5-4-3-2-1…
The next morning instead of pressing snooze, she counted down 5-4-3-2-1 and she stood up. She launched herself out of bed for the first time in months. She used the same countdown the next day, and the one after that. And then she started to view moments throughout the day when she had an instinct to improve her life as five-second windows where she could push herself forward.
She used the five-second rule to make it to the gym, to cut down on her drinking, to search for a job and to improve her marriage. Since then she has taught thousands of people the rule, helping them make tremendous changes in their lives. Today Mel owns a multi-million dollar business, teaches the five-second rule around the world and has become a best-selling author. (Her newest book, The Five-Second Rule, was just released last month.)
Mel says; “The Rule doesn’t make things easy. It makes things happen.” The basis of the rule is that the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will stop you. 5-4-3-2-1-Go! When you feel yourself hesitating before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-Go and act. There is a small window of time between the moment you have an instinct to change and your brain stopping it in its tracks. But if you begin the momentum before your excuses overwhelm you, you can prevent your mind from blocking you. Simply start counting backwards to yourself – 5-4-3-2-1.
If you do not take physical action within 5 seconds, your brain will destroy the instinct to grow.
Simple, but not easy. The counting helps you to focus on your goal and distract you from the excuses in your head. But if you do not take physical action within 5 seconds, your brain will destroy the instinct. Count down and then GO. Take action. Speak up at the meeting. Put on your sneakers. Hold back the insult you were about to say to your spouse. Send the email to that potential client. Do anything that is related to your goal.
“These five second windows, as I call them, are the critical moments between you changing your life and your brain stopping you” Mel Robbins writes.
The 5-second window can change the smallest of habits, but it can also lead to some of the most significant choices in our lives. And when we look back at the past, we can see how these windows of opportunity preceded massive changes in the world. Rosa Parks made a 5-second decision not to move to the back of the bus, and sparked the beginning of the civil rights movement. When Ron Lauder, of the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire, came back from his service as an ambassador in Austria, he felt the full weight of the growth of anti-Semitism, and he took that window of opportunity to begin his own philanthropic foundation dedicated to rebuilding devastated Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe. Mr. Lauder continues to speak up against anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda. No hesitation. No self -doubt.
Take life one 5-second window at a time and launch yourself forward toward your goals.