Stop procrastinating with the 5-second rule.

Launch into action with the 5-second rule before your "mental brake" kicks in.

Franz Wiesbauer, MD MPH
Franz Wiesbauer, MD MPH
23rd Mar 2018 • 3m read

A few years ago, Mel Robbins hit a very low-point.

Her husband’s restaurant business was failing and they were struggling to survive. She spent nights worrying about the future, plotting out how she was going to solve their financial problems and keep their family afloat. She was so stressed out (and depressed) that getting up in the morning was impossible. Mel became great friends with the snooze button and her kids were running late to school every day. She simply didn’t have the energy to get up. One day, she stopped getting up altogether.

That’s when she knew something had to change. Mel made a profound realization that moment. She’d spent so long THINKING about ways to fix her life that she forgot to simply DO. Hitting the snooze button wasn’t getting her any closer to a resolution and she knew that. But she was struggling to find the motivation to take action. Mel realized that knowing what to do, and why you need to do it, will never be enough. Waiting around for motivation to act is a bad idea. What we need is something that will help us launch into action because if we don’t start doing the things we don’t feel like doing, we’ll wake up in a year and have made zero progress.

Quite simply, you are never going to feel like it. Period.

We all have big dreams and ideas that we want to see happen. But how often do we actually *act* on those ideas? Almost never. Sitting in our comfort zones requires way less energy than it does to try something new or do that thing that we know we probably should. If you’ve ever tried to get a kid to do something they don’t want to do, you’ll know first-hand what that feels like. It’s frustrating to push against that little voice that wants to stay where it is. So how do you get over the initial stumbling block that stops you from starting–and maintaining–a good habit?Mel came up with something called the 5-second rule and the TEDx talk where she explains the philosophy behind it is the one of the top 20 most popular TEDx talks in the world.

The 5-second rule is basically this: If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

The hardest part is starting and the 5-second rule forces you to start. The 5-second rule acts on the mental emergency brake we all have that stops us from acting on those little impulses that we know we should.

The impulse to go for a run because you need to lose weight. The impulse to raise your hand at work when you feel like something needs to be said. The impulse to start that Medmastery course because you want to take your medical career to another level. We all know the feeling when that impulse breaks through our mental chaos only to be shut down again by our internal “brake”.

The answer is simple. Act before the “brake” comes down. Know you need to listen to the alarm clock and go for that run? Get your feet on the floor within 5 seconds of waking up. Know you should probably hone your ECG interpretation skills? Start your first video right now.

The point is this: just do.

Do you have any tips for “starting”? Share them below!