The August book club discussion of the book 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

The 5 Second Rule is very simple. When you have an instinct to act on your goal, you count down backwards from five, five, four, three, two, one, and then physically move to prevent your brain from stopping you. Whenever you feel like you want to act on a goal or a commitment, and then afterward you hesitate, you should use the rule. The counting helps you focus, and it distracts you from the part of your brain that will make you think about your fears and negative thoughts. It’s a great tool, but you have to actually use it. If you don’t use it, you fall back into a part of your brain where fear and uncertainty control your decision making.

The five second rule is a metacognition tool and it creates immediate and lasting behavioral changes. It’s basically a brain hack to help you accomplish goals. There is a relationship between the physical movement and the thought processes that happened. That’s why you have to have a physical movement after the countdown. The backwards countdown signals to your brain that something is going to happen after you reach one. Taking an action after the countdown creates a feeling of joy and being in control.

There is a golden rule of habits that psychologists talk about. It says that to change a bad habit, you have to replace it with a different (hopefully good) habit. Every habit has three parts- a cue, a routine and reward. The five, four, three, two, one countdown is a cue. Taking a positive physical action is a routine. The pleasurable feeling afterward is your reward. This creates a new habit loop.

There are two kinds of procrastination- productive procrastination and destructive procrastination. Productive procrastination is when while in a creative process working on something, you put it aside for a period of time. Your mind can wander and bring you back to it later. The mental wandering is where you come up with your most creative ideas. Destructive procrastination is when you avoid things you need to accomplish or do. You know that there will be negative consequences as a result. The five second rule can help you make progress when you were otherwise in destructive procrastination mode.

Buy the book on Amazon.

Learn more about the author, Mel Robbins.