The 5 Second Rule Summary In English

The 5 Second Rule

About Book

The 5 Second Rule

The 5 Second Rule 

Mel Robbins

The 5 Second Rule
The 5 Second Rule summary 
The 5 Second Rule summary in English


Can 5 seconds change your life? According to the speaker and author Mel Robbins, it can; and in more ways than you can imagine. 

Do you dream of pursuing a career you’re passionate about? Do you want to improve your health or your relationships? Do you want to become more confident and face your fears head-on? 

The 5 Second Rule will teach you to stop holding yourself back and take action so that you can finally create the life of your dreams. This simple technique will help reshape your habits and transform every aspect of your life. With Robbins as your guide, you will learn how a simple commitment can radically change your future. 

How I Discovered the #5SecondRule 

Sometimes in life, even the simplest of tasks seem incredibly difficult. Things like replying to an email, or going to the gym, can feel paralyzing. This is how author Mel Robbins felt every day at the age of 41. 

For Robbins, getting out of bed at the sound of her alarm was the most challenging task. As soon as she woke up, she thought of all the difficult things she was dealing with: bounced checks, a bank foreclosure on her house, not having a job, struggling as a wife and mother, and drinking to ease the pain. Snoozing the alarm felt like a small act of defiance. She began each day in a state of utter chaos. 

As much as Robbins wanted to change her life; she didn’t know how. Until one night, when she heard a commercial on TV. It featured the typical 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 countdown of a rocket launch. Inspired, Robbins decided the next day she would propel herself out of bed like a rocket. 

Though it seemed silly, when her alarm went off, Robbins counted down from five and got out of bed without snoozing the alarm. Thus, the #5SecondRule was born. 

What You Can Expect When You Use It

When you feel the desire to act on a goal, count backward from five to one and physically move your body. This is how the #5SecondRule creates tangible results in your life. 

What Robbins found, and what psychological research supports, is that there is a five-second window between your instinct to act, and your brain making the excuses that prevent you from taking action. By implementing the #5SecondRule, you get out of your way and act to support your goals. 

The five-second window appears all the time throughout your day. When you employ the #5SecondRule, you will find yourself making small decisions to support, rather than sabotage your goals. You will stop making excuses and avoid the bad habits that get in your way. These small decisions will eventually add up to big results. The #5SecondRule works as long as you use it. It will help release the fear from your life and let you take control of your decisions. 

Why the Rule Works 

The #5SecondRule works because it is simple. When you feel the urge to act on a goal or feel hesitant about something you should do, use the #5SecondRule to take action. Count backward: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1, and then move your body as soon as you hit “1”.

This forces you to act; rather than being stuck in a loop of hesitation or overthinking. The longer we spend thinking about something, the less likely it is that we will take action. This rule helps break this negative common pattern of human behavior.

You can use the #5SecondRule in three key ways. First; use it to change your behavior by forming new habits and breaking bad habits that aren’t serving you. Second;  use it to act with everyday courage by helping you conquer uncertainty and fear, so you can act with confidence. And third; use it to control your mind by silencing worries and negative thinking. 

This rule can be used to improve any part of your life because it is working on your neurological response. By replacing a bad habit with the #5SecondRule, you can create lasting behavioral change. 

Everyday Courage 

While we often think of acts of courage as those bold and brave acts that shape and define history; courage is also found in everyday acts of living. Those moments of fear or uncertainty challenge us to be courageous in our ways. Courage can be found in every one of us. It serves as a push when we need it most; helping us to overcome hesitation and take action in our lives. 

Everyday courage can take many different forms. Rosa Parks, for example, exhibited extraordinary everyday courage when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama in 1955. When Rosa Parks later recounted her story, she said that she had not planned it or paused to reflect on the consequences. She acted as she did at that moment because enough was enough. She was sick of being discriminated against as a black American; and so without hesitation, she stood up for herself. Being courageous does not always mean changing the world. It can also mean changing yourself. 

What Are You Waiting For? 

We have all played the waiting game; waiting for the right time to start a business or feel confident. Whatever the reason for waiting; it is holding you back. Every moment you wait, you’re not just delaying your dreams, you’re actively working against them. The truth is, there is no “right” time. None of us know how long or short our lives will be. All we have is the present and what we choose to make of it. 

We often wait for others to give us the push we need to pursue a dream. We want reassurance that we have a good idea or that we are capable. Instead of looking for external validation; push yourself from within. Find the courage to put yourself out there; no matter how scary or nerve-racking it is. The right moment doesn’t exist. 

Take E.L. James, author of the wildly popular book, Fifty Shades of Gray. Without an agent or a book deal, James, a working mother, began writing Twilight-inspired erotica in her free time. Eventually, she gained the confidence to write a book, which she self-published. That book sold a million copies in just four days. 

When we consider taking an action, we want a guarantee that it will pay off. But most of the time, there is no guarantee. You must believe that the outcome does not matter. What matters is that by putting yourself out in the world, you are waking up to your power within. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo auditioned 600 times before he landed his first role. Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, launched 51 games before finding success. Picasso created over 50,000 pieces of art during his lifetime, yet only 100 were masterpieces. 

Opening yourself up to the world allows you to embrace opportunities and possibilities you would never be exposed to otherwise. With the #5SecondRule, you can stop playing the waiting game and find the courage to act on your dreams. 

You’ll Never Feel Like It

Although we may like to think of ourselves as logical decision-makers; feelings are the true drivers of our decisions. This explains why change is hard; we know what we should do, but our feelings ultimately make the decisions. 

The #5SecondRule helps address this by overriding your feelings, forcing you to quickly take action. To be successful, you must separate how you feel from how you act. When you’re first starting, it’s not exactly about the results. What’s important is that you did something; you took action. 

Imagine you work at a company and one of your goals is to be promoted. You’ve: read books, attended seminars, and worked with a coach. You know you need to speak up and share your ideas to be promoted, but find it difficult. 

This is where you can easily employ the #5SecondRule. Break your habit of remaining silent at meetings because you’re second-guessing yourself. Count 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and push yourself to speak up and share. 

How to Start Using the Rule 

Change is simple, but it`s not always that easy. The best way to adopt the #5SecondRule in your life is to start with the Wake Up Challenge. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier; and when it goes off tomorrow morning, countdown 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 -1 and launch yourself out of bed. 

This is an effective way to implement the #5SecondRule for several reasons. For one, it is straightforward. When your alarm goes off, you will choose to follow the rule or you will blow it off. If you can change your morning routine, you can change any part of your life. And, you will experience what psychologists call “activation energy”. This is the big initial push you need to make a change. You will find that even though it takes a very big push to get yourself out of bed early, the day quickly becomes easier from there. 

Just as Robbins used the #5SecondRule to stop snoozing the alarm and face her day; it also became a catalyst to help make other positive changes in her life. Stephen has a similar story. He had been out of work for four months when he began using this rule; starting with the Wake Up Challenge. Getting up earlier changed his mindset, and he was able to find a job that he truly enjoys. Stephen can now pay his bills and put some money in his savings. One simple change had a positive snowball effect; changing his entire life. 

Improve Your Health

Many people have the goal of improving their health; whether it means: losing weight, improving cardiovascular fitness, or healing from an illness. While we have access to more information than ever before about how to live a healthy life; it is still a huge struggle for many people. This is, again, where our feelings come into play. 

You know you should choose to make your lunch rather than buy fast food, but you don’t feel like it in the morning. You know you should go for a run instead of watching TV, but you just don’t feel like going outside in the cold. This is where the #5SecondRule comes in. 

Cut off the thought pattern of “I just don’t feel like it”, by employing this rule. As soon as you have the instinct to put on your gym clothes or choose water over soda, don’t let your feelings get in the way. Count down from 5 and go with your gut. Your feelings don’t matter. It is your actions that will create lasting changes to your health and well-being. 

Charlie used this rule to take back his life. In February 2014, he was 383lbs. Until the day he listened to Mel Robbins’ Ted Talk. From that day on, he began using the #5SecondRule to take actions that would benefit his health, rather than cause further harm to it. Charlie lost 176 lbs., and he was able to completely turn his life around. He did this by overriding his feelings and taking the actions he knew would get him to a better state of health.

Increase Productivity

Productivity relies on your ability to focus. This is two-fold.  You must manage distractions so you can focus on the task in front of you; then prioritize the tasks that are truly important, rather than getting caught up doing useless tasks. 

Start getting serious about managing distractions in your life. We are well aware that our electronic devices and their constant notifications are extremely distracting. Decide that these distractions are not worth it, and then remove them. This is simple, but not necessarily easy. However, cutting out the constant barrage of notifications from your phone or laptop will make a huge difference in your productivity. 

You also need to hone your focus on the big picture. This means actively structuring your day towards your goals. It also means taking advantage of the first two to three hours of your day; which, research shows, is peak timing for productivity. 

Robbins increased her productivity by taking control of her mornings. She established a strong morning routine and stuck with it. She kept her phone in the bathroom so that when she woke up there was no temptation to check her notifications. While brushing her teeth, Robbins reviewed her “must-list”. These are the things she needed to do to advance her personal goals. 

She took thirty minutes before seven thirty to plan out her day; specifically scheduling her “musts”. Robbins completed her morning routine without her phone to minimize distractions. You can adopt a similar approach to tap into the power of your morning routine and increase productivity. 

End Procrastination

Many of us struggle with procrastination at some point in our lives. Sometimes, procrastination can be productive; like when you are working on a creative project or idea. Taking a step back for a few days helps you see your project with fresh eyes. On the other hand, destructive procrastination eats away at our goals and lives. Destructive procrastination means that you know you have work that needs to get done and that there will be negative consequences if you don’t do it, but you procrastinate anyway. 

What many people don’t know is that this destructive procrastination isn’t a sign of laziness; it’s a coping mechanism for stress. It’s not the email or the paperwork, that’s stressing you out. It’s something bigger; like financial stress or personal matters. Avoiding a difficult task can bring temporary relief, but in the long run, just creates more stress. 

You can tackle destructive procrastination by using the #5SecondRule with three simple steps. First, forgive yourself for procrastinating. Use this rule to stop the negative self-talk surrounding procrastination. Then, ask what your future self would do. Imagine yourself as the person you wish to become to jolt yourself out of your pattern of procrastination. Finally, use this rule to get started. Take steps to address whatever you’re avoiding; even for just 15 minutes at a time. 

The method is simple, but it requires you to take action. Here’s an example of what this might look like in practice. Scott is a Ph.D. student with a wife and a baby at home. He feels overwhelmed by financial stress; which leads him to procrastinate on important tasks and deadlines. His procrastination is starting to cause serious problems. He feels like a failure. First, Scott forgave himself for procrastinating.

He realized that his financial stress should not influence his work in the lab. Now, he can begin to assert control over his life. Next, he imagined what a future version of himself would do. He envisioned himself as a professor. This helped him to make rational decisions. Finally, Scott employed the #5SecondRule to get started on the tasks he’d been putting off. Without overthinking, he just dived right in! 

Stop Worrying

If you are like most of us, you spend too much time and energy worrying about what might happen instead of enjoying life. For many, worrying is a default setting we slip into when we aren’t paying attention. Ultimately, it robs us of our ability to enjoy beautiful moments, and make the most of our time. 

The #5SecondRule can stop worrying in its tracks; which may be one of the most profound changes you can make in your life. When your mind drifts towards dark or negative thoughts, you don’t have to go along with them. Instead, use this rule to redirect your thinking. 

Robbins recounts a time when she was waiting for her daughters to return from a trip to Peru. Throughout the day, her mind repeatedly turned toward negative thoughts, like plane crashes, airline delays, and lost baggage. But she used this rule to redirect her thinking. When she caught herself in a negative thought, she counted down from five and at one she thought of how excited her daughters would be to tell her about the trip. 

You too can use this rule to reframe your thoughts when worries arise. Replace your worry with a positive feeling. If you feel yourself slipping into negativity, ask yourself what you want to remember, or what you are grateful for at that particular moment. 

End Anxiety 

Anxiety is worry amplified and out of control. The way to take control of anxiety is to understand it and reframe it. We all experience moments of normal panic at some point in our lives;  like when we nearly get into a car accident. Anxiety is when panic arises without a trigger. You can be doing something as innocuous as pouring your morning coffee when overwhelming and unexplained panic sets in. 

Therapy and medication are two tried and tested means of dealing with anxiety. Another method you can use is this “reframing strategy”.

 This works by reframing anxiety as excitement; which is the same for our bodies. It is only our brain that divides them into different things. When you feel anxiety setting in, you can stop it from erupting into panic by using the #5SecondRule. Count down from five and tell yourself instead that you’re just excited! 

Robbins, a lifelong sufferer of anxiety, uses the reframing strategy every time she speaks publicly. Before a talk, her heart begins to race and her palms feel sweaty. Instead of telling herself that she’s nervous; she uses this rule to reframe the situation. She tells herself that she is not nervous; that she’s just excited to give a talk! 

Beat Fear

Part of being human is coming face-to-face with scary situations. Our fears take different forms, but what they all have in common is that they prevent us from enjoying our moments.  

When facing a frightening situation, there is a simple technique you can use to beat fear. It involves creating an “anchor thought”. This is something positive that would come as a result of facing your fear. While you are in a situation that scares you; you can hold onto this thought to help alleviate some of your fear. 

Robbins illustrates this technique by explaining how she overcame her fear of flying. On every flight she found herself imagining the worst happening, such as a plane crash or a terrorist attack; which made her afraid every time she flew. To conquer her fear, she began creating an “anchor thought” for each flight.

She chose something specific that she was looking forward to at her destination, like walking on the beach with her mom in Michigan. Whenever her sense of fear was heightened during the flight, she used the #5SecondRule to pull herself back into the present moment, and then focused on what she was looking forward to upon landing. Little by little, it worked. Robbins gradually eliminated her fear of flying. You can use this same technique in your own life; whatever your fear might be. 

Building Real Confidence

We sometimes think of confidence as a personality trait, but it’s a skill; one of trusting yourself and your abilities. As with any skill, becoming more confident is a matter of practice. Building confidence means taking small steps that push you out of your comfort zone. Over time, these small actions add up to big results; leaving you with real, unshakable self-confidence. 

You can use the #5SecondRule to create small challenges that build confidence. For example, Robbins challenged a group of engineers to use this rule to introduce themselves to three new people. One engineer in the audience found himself face-to-face that day with the company’s CEO, who he greatly admired; but he froze. The man spent the day feeling disappointed in himself. However, the next day, the engineer chanced upon the CEO again while out on a morning jog. Using this rule, he pushed himself to walk up to the man he admired and strike up a conversation. This gentleman had a rewarding conversation with his CEO and even shared a new idea he had. This small act of courage opened up new doors for him in the company and built his confidence. 

Pursuing Passion

You find your passion by taking an active role in the process. Start by exploring: noticing what makes you excited, or the things you can’t stop thinking about. Once you’ve identified something you’re interested in, go deeper: watch videos online, take a class, or talk to people in the field. Don’t hesitate when you find something that sparks your interest. Use the #5SecondRule to dive in and explore what sets your soul on fire. 

You’ll find that your continued exploration will build momentum; and will take you down a new path that aligns with what you are passionate about. Once that happens, new opportunities will present themselves. Have the courage to take the leap and follow your heart. Then, there will come a time when your passion project has the potential to become your life path or career. 

This will take time; both to reflect and plan for the path ahead. Instead of asking yourself if you feel ready to commit to a new path, ask yourself if you are ready. If the answer is yes, use this rule to give yourself that final push and take action on your dream. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1, make your dream a reality! 

Enrich Your Relationships

Improving your relationships is as simple as this; if you have something to say, say it. Often in life, it is hard to share experiences that are intimate or frightening. We default to leaving important things left unsaid because it feels easier. 

The #5SecondRule can help you express those important experiences; the ones you instinctively want to share, but your feelings hold you back. Count backward and say whatever it is you want to say. 

Mel experienced this firsthand when her dad texted her out of the blue asking her to call him. Immediately she ran through a list of bad scenarios: from a death in the family, to be in trouble. On the call, her dad explained he needed surgery for a brain aneurysm. Mel felt compelled to ask him if he was scared but began to stop herself. Using the #5SecondRule, she pushed on. She and her dad shared a beautiful moment; where he explained how fulfilling and joyful his life had been. Speaking up can feel scary or intimidating, but leave nothing important left unsaid. 


You have learned how taking just five seconds can disrupt old thought patterns and habits; helping you to act in a way that supports the life you want to live. You have learned that this simple technique can be applied to any aspect of your life: from your health and personal relationships to your career and business. You have learned how to pursue your passions and make your life more fulfilling. If you want to: start your dream business, start exercising, or just be more patient with your kids; this is where you start. 

The #5SecondRule gives you the power to radically transform your life. It works by disrupting old habits and negative thoughts, drawing you into the present moment. Pursue your passion, conquer your fears, and live the life of your dreams. It’s as simple as 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1, act!

Leave a Comment