How Does the 5 Second Rule Work?

How Does the 5 Second Rule Work?

How does the 5 Second Rule work?  And does the 5 Second rule actually work?

For any of you who have not heard of “The 5 Second Rule”, it is a mental exercise and technique made popular by motivational speaker and life coach Mel Robbins.

The 5 Second Rule is aimed as an impulse mechanism to help people take action on their goals and to once and for all end their bad procrastination habits.

Does the 5 Second Rule actually work?


Indeed it does.

Previously, I had written a similar post on "The 5 Second Rule" to my internet community. The post was highly touted.

Within the first 24 hours after I posted my article, more than 20+ people who read my post applied the 5 Second Rule.

All 20+ people reported back that they had immediate success in taking action. It worked! 

How does the 5 Second Rule work? It worked!

Bad procrastination habits that existed with these folks for years immediately reversed when they applied “The 5 Second Rule.”

I knew there would be some success, however the feedback I received within 24 hours was astonishing.

The sheer amount of immediate success stories that happened when applying the 5 Second Rule I did not anticipate. It was mind-boggling.

This truly was an eye-opening revelation.

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How does the 5 Second Rule work? Don't Overthink it

Don’t Overthink, Just Take Action

In one of my recent posts, that ONE item I mentioned over and over again as THE BIGGEST PROBLEM for everyone on the list, was my #20.

My rule #20 simply stated, “Don’t overthink, just take action”.

My Top 20 List and Beyond

However, just like psychological quicksand, the more we struggle with this procrastination problem - and at its core it IS a procrastination problem - the further into its grasp we fall.

Then again, if you are reading this, it may well be because of something else you are avoiding. The good news? You are 5 seconds away from doing it!

For the REAL key to overcoming our procrastination problem is a well-documented reverse mental technique called The 5 Second Rule.

How does the 5 Second Rule work? It's in the Neuroscience

How Does the 5 Second Rule Work: The Neuroscience Behind Overthinking

The real reason we all have such a grand aversion to #20 is deeply rooted in neuroscience and how the prefrontal cortex of our brain works.

Procrastination is not a reflection of your attitude, work ethic, or competence. It is actually a behavior meant to help us cope with stress. Whether it's something we need to do for work, a relationship, or our health, procrastination is basically a coping mechanism.

 When we turn to Facebook or watch YouTube videos as an excuse for avoiding a task such as writing an important blog post or doing the training, it’s a way that we escape from a cause of stress. What we are avoiding isn't the task but rather the stress we are associating with the task.
It's a survival mechanism

Procrastination is a Survival Mechanism

I will even go one step further to label procrastination as a survival mechanism, one that is deeply rooted and has been carried down through our ancestral DNA. A survival mechanism that evolved in an environment where stress was like radar, helping us avoid things that were likely to compromise our chances for survival.

If we needed to go out and hunt for food but also imagined that there might be wild sabre-tooth tigers running around outside our cave dwelling doing the same, we'd most likely put off getting food and find a nice corner to scratch out a few wall drawings.

Cave art

Isn’t it truly mind-boggling that our most amazing insights into humanity's first artistic inclinations were the result of our Neanderthal ancestors procrastinating? I certainly believe it is!

How does the 5 Second Rule work? It will beat procrastination

How Does the 5 Second Rule Work to Beat Procrastination

Since we now know how our brains work, and that procrastination is associated with stress, the key to eliminating #20 is triggering the fast acting part of your brain while at the same time limiting the influence of the slow acting part of your brain that is causing all of us to “overthink.”

No-brainer decisions, like our impulse to save a drowning child, are actually driven by that very fast-thinking part of the brain. We most often call it going with our gut but it's also a way evolution has wired us to speed up what might otherwise be a very slow and ineffective decision-making process.

Hence, the key is to do whatever we need to do in 5 seconds.

Here’s the solution. Think Apollo Moon Landing!

Count aloud, “5,4,3,2,1……” and then just DO it!!

This counting “mechanism” by itself will shut off the slow acting part of your brain and trigger the fast acting part of your brain. It’s really that simple.

Counting 5,4,3,2,1

One more thing: for this method to work you absolutely MUST COUNT BACKWARDS!! This cannot be overstated. Counting “1,2,3,4,5…” is not the same as counting “5,4,3,2,1…” as the former (counting up) implies an open-ended “infinity.”

The implication of “zero” for the latter is telling your brain to act!!

My 2 step Process

My 2-Step Process to Taking Action

When you learn to harness the awesome power of this technique properly and consistently, this will change your life.

Our Challenge of #20 will never be an issue again.

So here I my 2-Step Process to Taking Action:

Acknowledge your stress

1. Acknowledge that you're stressed.

Don't over analyze this. Just accept that what neuroscience has proven you're dealing with is not a fault, a defect, or an inability in YOU but a reaction to stress. It's real, and it's driving your decisions.

That takes a bit of the pressure off and enables your prefrontal cortex to play a role in your next decision.

2. Make a five-second decision that is directly contrary to the stress response.

Simply go, “5,4,3,2,1…” And Do It.

When you act with courage, your brain is not involved. Rather than try to rationalize the stress by thinking "How can I cope with it?" Confront the stress. If it's a phone call, then pick up the phone and make the call. If it's writing, then make the decision to write whatever you can for the next five minutes.

The key is to activate and then do, not activate and then think about doing. Like anything else in life that promises to change a fundamental behavior, it takes time to build a new habit. This will not happen overnight, but with consistent practice you will form a new habit. A habit of TAKING ACTION.

A Word of Caution: If you use “The 5 Second Rule” to make a decision that you then analyze for the next five hours, you've just fallen back into the same trap.

How does the 5 Second Rule work? Just Go 5,4,3,2,1

How Does the 5 Second Rule Work?  Just Go "5,4,3,2,1"

So anytime you need to take action, think of the Apollo 11 lunar landing countdown, and say aloud to yourself, “5,4,3,2,1….”.

Take off!

And when the implied countdown hits “zero” just get up and GO DO IT!

You will be amazed at how simple and effective this technique can be!

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!