Book notes: The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins book summary.

The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins


Synopsis: “Throughout your life, you’ve had parents, coaches, teachers, friends, and mentors who have pushed you to be better than your excuses and bigger than your fears. What if the secret to having the confidence and courage to enrich your life and work is simply knowing how to push yourself?

Using the science of habits, riveting stories, and surprising facts from some of the most famous moments in history, art, and business, Mel Robbins will explain the power of a “push moment”. Then, she’ll give you one simple tool you can use to become your greatest self.

The 5 Second Rule is a simple, one-size-fits-all solution for the one problem we all face – we hold ourselves back. The secret isn’t knowing what to do – it’s knowing how to make yourself do it.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

Not really sure what to expect with this book. I got this on an Audible sale / promo, and the reviews and ratings looked pretty good. It seems like this book is providing some sort of framework or tool to help the reader accomplish their goals. I’m usually a bit reserved on things that claim to be a “one-size-fits-all solution” but I’ll give it a shot. Apparently, the author has created success in her life, in her relationship and her career, so I’m sure there is some value in this concept.

Key notes:

  • 5 second rule: the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move before your brain kills it
    • It is a powerful, meta-cognition technique that changed everything about her life, work, and sense of self
  • Once you use the rule to push yourself out of your head and into action, you’ll be astonished by how easy it is to make a 5 second decision that changes everything
    • The ability to make a 5 second decision can change your life
  • You’re one decision away from a completely different life
  • No matter how bad your life is, you can always make it worse
  • Change requires courage and confidence
  • When you focus on problems, your mind magnifies them.
    • The “spotlight effect“: The more you worry, the more overwhelmed and uncertain you’ll feel
  • Listen to your inner instinct and inner genius to change, and honor it with action

Chapter 3: what you can expect when you use it

  • The rule will give you a framework, courage, and a method for how you push yourself to change
  • There’s nothing more powerful than the feeling of confidence and pride that you gain in yourself when you realize you can rely on yourself and you can keep trudging forward to face whatever challenges life throws at you head on
  • She mentioned the rule as an afterthought at the very end of a TED talk, then it went viral and people started using it and changing their lives
    • She then started to research all about it and why it works
  • A moment of hesitation is a kiss of death

Chapter 4: Why the rule works

  • The moment that you feel yourself hesitate on something you know that you should do, that’s when you use the rule
  • Physical movement is the most important part of the rule because it changes your physiology, and then that means your mind is going to follow along with it
  • How you can use the rule:
    1. You can use it to change your behavior and habits
    2. You can use the rule to find the courage you need every single day
  • Golden rule: in order to change any bad habit, all you’ve got to do is replace the behavior pattern that you repeat
    • Starting rituals are critical for break my bad habits because they interrupt the pattern and trigger positive new behaviors
  • You listen to what your heart tells you to do, you don’t stop and think
    • Greatness is not a personality trait, it’s inside all of us
  • Seth Godin says a different part of our brains is activated when we think about what’s possible rather than what’s required
    • Same is true when you focus on being courageous rather than the fears that stop us

Chapter 6: What are you waiting for?

  • You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. But also, you never regret the shots you take, but you do regret the shots you don’t take
  • We dodge challenges because it protects our ego
    • In today’s world, you validate your ideas by pursuing them
  • Waiting until you are ready is the same as expecting it not to happen
    • The world rewards those of us who are courageous enough to stop waiting and to start
    • You push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and begin. There’s no other way
    • You must find the courage to start, whatever that may be
  • Success is a numbers game. Successful people are prolific and go through more rejection before they find success
    • You’re not gonna win if you keep telling yourself to wait
    • The more often you choose courage the more likely you are to succeed at getting what you want

Chapter 7: You’ll never feel like it

  • Your feelings make it so hard to solve your problems and do the things you know you need to do with your life
    • Our feelings in the moment are almost never aligned with what’s best for us
  • We make 95% of our decisions by what we feel
    • We are feeling machines that think, and not the other way around
    • If you do not learn how to untangle your feelings from your actions, you will never unlock your potential
    • You cannot control how you feel, but you can always choose how you act
  • Using the rule is so freeing because not only do you seize the moment, when you beat your fears, you take ownership of your life

Chapter 8: How to start using the rule

  • Activation energy is the minimum amount of energy required to begin a chemical reaction
    • Chemists have found that this initial amount of energy is much higher than the average amount of energy that’s needed to keep a reaction going
  • Alarm clock challenge:ย Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and use the five second rule to get up in the morning

Chapter 9: improve your health

  • This can be boiled down to one word: Focus
    • Two types of focus you need in order to master productivity
      1. The ability to manage distractions
      2. The skill of focusing on what’s truly important to you in the big picture
  • The addictive quality of email is the exact same psychological make up as the addictive quality of pulling a slot machine lever
    • It’s a concept called random rewards
  • The first 2 to 3 hours of the day are the best hours for your brain
    • Sleep inertia is that hitting the snooze button has a negative impact on brain function and productivity that can last up to four hours
    • ย If you’re constantly tired during the day in the morning, it’s because you keep hitting the snooze button and then starting a new sleep cycle while you wake up
  • 42% more likely to stick to your goals if you write them down
  • Parkinson’s law: work expands to whatever time you give it. Therefore, planning a stop time for work will make you more intentional with your time and more productive with it

ย Chapter 11: End Procrastination

  • Productive procrastination: If you are working on a creative project or innovative idea, research shows that procrastination is not only good but actually really important
    • When you set aside a big project and give your mind time to wander, it’ll allow you to come up with divergent ideas to enhance your project
  • Destructive procrastination: When you are avoiding things that need to get done, and you know there are going to be negative consequences
  • Procrastination is not a form of laziness. It is a coping mechanism to deal with stress
    • Procrastination is nothing more than a subconscious desire to feel good right now so that you can feel a little bit of stress release
  • When you procrastinate, you are really taking a mini stress break from the bigger stresses you feel overall
    • Avoiding something you feel is hard gives you a small sense of relief, and doing something you enjoy gives you a boost of dopamine
  • The first step to curing yourself of the habit of procrastinating is forgiving yourself
  • Use the five second rule to break procrastination habit by making yourself start, starting small

Chapter 12: Stop Worrying

  • More than any other change, ending your habit of worrying will create the single biggest positive impact in your life
  • Use the five second rule to break your mental pattern, and then re-frame your anxiety as excitement
    • Physiologically, anxiety, nervousness, fear and excitement are the exact same thing to your body
      • What your brain calls what your body is doing is the secret
    • Anxiety reappraisal: reframing your anxiety as excitement works

Chapter 14: Beat Fear

  • Anchor thought: this is a thought relevant to the trip you are taking that will anchor you if your fear sets in

Part Five: Courage Changes Everything

  • Confidence isn’t a personality trait, it simply means you believe in yourself. It is a skill
  • Authentic pride is the pride that you feel when you push yourself outside your comfort zone to do something that matters to you. You surprise yourself
  • Confidence in yourself is built through acts of courage
    • You prove it to yourself by showing yourself that your own instincts are worth acting on
    • Nothing comes naturally until you practice it. This is why you must practice acts of every day courage
    • You have the ability to improve, change, or enrich every single aspect of your life through action

Chapter 16: Pursuing Passion

  • Passion is energy. Passion is a state of being, not a thing. It’s a state where you feel energized, excited, and want to dig in and learn more that you lose track of time
  • If you can’t stop thinking about something, make it a new hobby. Do not try to make money at it, it is the wrong way to start at something
    • Nothing will suck the passion you feel out of a hobby more than pressure to make money at it
  • You can make anything happen in your life if you do the work and if you give up your timeline
  • The Alchemist, which she highly recommends
    • Main message: “the whole universe conspires to help you when you follow your heart
  • Silence is always the problem
    • Deciding not to say what you feel creates cognitive dissonance between what you truly believe in your heart and what you actually do in the moment
    • Overtime your silence causes your problems to build which can break your relationships
    • Silence creates distance, truth creates connection
  • Sometimes, there is no next time
    • When your heart speaks, say it
    • Leaving nothing important unsaid. Just say it.
  • Quote: “you’ve been assigned this mountain so that you can show others it can be moved
  • You can’t change the past, but in five seconds, you can change your future. That is the power of the five second rule. When your heart speaks, honor it

Closing thoughts:

I loved this book! Lots of solid principles on taking action towards things that are important to you. The 5 Second Principle is divulged early on, but most of the book distills how to implement this tool and many examples of how other people are implementing it.

Mel starts off by explaining what the rule is, then goes into the context of why we don’t do what we know we should do. Then she leads into the concepts of procrastination, how to slowly implement challenges to break the existing habits, and then how to use courage to build confidence. The last sections of the book discuss the importance of acting on what’s important, particularly speaking up when your heart says something, and how silence creates distance.

I enjoyed how actionable the author made the rule and the abundance of examples. I will also say that the author read the book and she is the most entertaining and easy to listen to reader of almost all the audiobooks i’ve listened to so far. You can really tell that she’s a TV show personality. Her tone, how she enunciates, and how she speaks overall makes it really easy to stay engaged.

Overall, fantastic book that I highly recommend if you feel like there are really big things in your life you want to change but can’t seem to get started. While this won’t solve your problems, it will give you a solid strategy that can make a big difference if you implement it.

Nutshell: How the 5-second rule can empower you to break bad habits, start new ones, and begin to change your life for the better.

Rating: 4/5

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