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Review: The Five Second Rule – Mel Robbins

“The Moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will make you stop.”

There is something so simple about Mel Robbin’s ‘Five Second Rule’ that it would be very easy to dismiss it. Being realistic here, this book could’ve easily been about half the size of what it actually is. The ‘five-second rule’ principle itself is taught thoroughly within one chapter and the remaining 15 chapters are generally made up of explanations, practical uses and testimonials from people who have used it.

That would be the advantage of being one of the most booked female speakers globally is that Mel Robbin’s has had the ability to get in front of people… A LOT of people. She is also very vivacious and has one of those personalities where you find yourself thinking, ‘you know what… I wouldn’t mind having a drink at a bar with Mel and just chatting about life.’ There is something infectiously likeable about her and I think that has resonated with the many audiences that she has been in front of over time.

Mel begins ‘The Five Second Rule’ by telling us about how bad her life had become. She was on the brink of a deep depression. Her career was a mess. Her relationship was on the verge of failure. She was all too ready to feel that life had it in for her. She then stumbled across the five-second rule one night watching television and seeing footage of a rocket taking off. She had wanted to get out of bed earlier to begin a fitness regime and she wondered what it would be like to ‘launch herself out of bed’ instead of hitting the snooze button constantly. The next morning, she was surprised to five that by counting from 5 down to 1 and then acting on impulse, she was beginning to create a brand new habit that would continue to impact her life almost hourly.

Any form of hesitation or procrastination, she would utilise the five-second rule to push through the negative self-talk and self-doubt, taking action in a way that was meaningful and outcome focused. She used to when she needed to find the courage to complete things that she, quite simply, just did not want to do or was frightened to do. Admittedly, I think we can all see how we can be guilty of that ourselves.

She focuses a chapter on the concept of courage, exploring how for many of us, this is a concept that is generally aligned with extraordinary people and achievements. She rightfully points out that we all face moments of courage each day, whether it be simply getting up to face a day full of challenges, committing to something that we don’t want to do (such as losing weight or making ‘that’ call), or even just being authentic and real.

She shows how the rule can be used to improve your health, increase productivity, manage anxiety, overcome fear, build confidence and enrich relationships, all using the five-second rule principal.

The five-second rule, really, works much like a pattern interrupt. Mel argues that in the five seconds after we’re faced with a situation, we can have so much self-talk that prevents us from acting in the way that we would like, we actually talk ourselves out of what we really want to do. Utilising the five second rule, we block that negative self talk and, provided there is action as soon as we have finished the countdown, we begin to build new ways of thinking and new behaviours that allow us to achieve more of what we want – more action, more focus, more confidence, more skill and, ultimately, be more authentic and real.

As I said at the start of this review, the rule can be deceptive in it’s simplicity however, having tried it over the past week, I have to say that I believe there is some merit in this. While I haven’t used it all the time, in the moments when I felt it was worth trying out (and, frankly, my past week has been filled with far more stressed than usual), I have to say that I was surprised at how effectively it worked. So much so that I have recommended it to some of my clients in the past week and I’ll be curious to hear just what they’ve been able to do differently next session as a result.

If you wish to watch Mel’s infamous TED Talk, check it out below.

You can purchase the Kindle version of ‘The Five Second Rule’ at Amazon, hardcopy at Book Depository, or check out Mel Robbins on her Youtube channel.

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Book Review: The Happiness Trap