{BOOK REVIEW} The 5 Second Rule

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You ever read a book and – as you're still reading it – you get a sense that it's gonna fundamentally change your life? Like, it makes you see everything in a whole new way?

Boy, is that ever the case with this one.

I had heard of The 5 Second Rule but hadn't bought it because I wasn't sure it would really be as great as the hype. But when I found myself with an extra Audible credit the other day and the audiobook popped up in my "Recommended" list, I decided, What the heck, I'll give it a try.

I'm so glad I did.

Let me tell you why.


At its core, The 5 Second Rule is a simple book. The 5 Second Rule itself takes about five seconds to explain:

You have approximately five seconds to make a decision before your brain starts to talk you out of it. 

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This "rule" is backed by science. Your brain, evolutionarily-speaking, resists change because it wants to keep you safe. Way back when, change could mean getting eaten by a tiger just because you wanted to take a different path through the jungle one day.

Ergo, when we have an impulse to do something to change our situation, the human brain immediately starts coming up with reasons (or excuses) why we shouldn't do it.

To our brains, it's a matter of survival.

However, today we're not necessarily in danger of getting eaten by tigers when we go for a walk. Our brains don't need to freak the eff out when we get an idea to, say, wake up earlier, or speak up in a meeting, or send that email. Yet our brains still freak out regardless. 

When she was in a particularly dark phase of her life, Mel Robbins came up with a way to short-circuit this instinct by counting backwards (5-4-3-2-1) and then physically moving her body to get herself to take action. She started by using this technique to get herself out of bed earlier in the mornings, and when that was successful, she started applying it to other areas in her life as well. 

After explaining the basic principle of the rule, Mel Robbins spends most of the book describing how you can put it into practice in all kinds of situations:

  • how to increase your productivity,

  • how to improve your health,

  • how to beat procrastination,

  • how to stop worrying in its tracks, and

  • how to conquer anxiety and fear.

She also illustrates how the 5 Second Rule can improve your relationships, help you pursue your passions, and build self-confidence.

Wow! That's an awfully long list of potential results for such a simple rule. 

But as she points out, just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy If it were easy, we'd all already be doing it. Using the 5 Second Rule can be really difficult – but, as she implores, if we use it, we can take the necessary steps needed to create lasting change in our lives.

Let's just say the idea has taken off. 

Much of the book is comprised of testimonials from people who have used the 5 Second Rule in their own lives and found it tremendously helpful. She describes a TON of people who have written or spoken to her about how they've applied the rule to all kinds of different situations and experienced success. 

But the book hasn't enchanted everyone.

For one thing, there's a lot of repetition in the book. Robbins has taken a very basic principle and turned it into book-length material. Ergo, she's bound to repeat herself again and again. Which she does. 

And as I mentioned above, much of the book is made up of testimonials. Sometimes, I've gotta admit, it starts to sound like a commercial. 

Some reviews I've read online have been critical of the book for these reasons.

HERE'S THE THING, though: I don't mind it.

First of all, knowing that so many people have used this little trick to make significant changes in their lives gives me extra motivation to try it myself.

And as for the repetition, science also shows that our brains need repetition (lots of it, in fact) to remember something. After all, the 5 Second Rule won't work if you don't remember to use it when you're about to back away from making a decision to change.

So with that in mind, I welcome the repetition. In fact, as soon as I finished the book, I immediately started listening to it all over again.

So how can the 5 Second Rule help me in my business?

Not surprisingly, the answer is simple: use the rule to help you take action. So often, we get an impulse to do something that takes some guts — put ourselves “out there,” make a call, send an email, go to a networking event — and our brain almost immediately thinks of reasons to convince us why it’s a bad idea. Our brain thinks it’s keeping us safe, when in reality, it’s keeping us small.  

Use the 5 Second Rule to propel you into taking those action steps to get you out of your comfort zone. Take those risks. Easier said than done, I know, but you literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Be forewarned: Mel Robbins isn't everyone's cup of tea.

She's blunt. And she curses. A lot. Personally, I don't give a [bleep], seeing as I'm a pro-level pottymouth. But people with more tender ears may flinch at her delivery. Still, the message is worth listening to. 


I'm still in the process of implementing the 5 Second Rule in my life (I guess that's fairly obvious, seeing as I just finished the book). I'm starting out with trying to get out of bed earlier.

And it worked! I got out of bed at 5:45 AM this morning by using the 5 second rule. Considering I'm usually at war with my snooze button for a solid hour before dragging myself out of bed around 7:30 AM, this is a BIG DEAL. 

It will take some practice to get it to be reflexive, I think. But I'm confident I can get there.

I'm really optimistic about using the 5 Second Rule – for some reason, it just feels like it'll work in the long run. I truly believe I can succeed in areas where I have struggled before, and that's already a huge change from my previous mindset.

Have YOU tried the 5 Second Rule? How do you think it could help improve your life? Let me know in the comments!