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Mel Robbins’ The 5-Second Rule Book Review Part 1

10 Mins read

CHAPTER 1 – Five Seconds to Change Your Life

“If you are searching for that one person who will change your life, look in the mirror.“

What is the 5-Second Rule?
A powerful metacognition technique that is only ever working on one thing: YOU… That it just takes five seconds to change your life and it involves action. Only through action can you unlock the power inside you to truly become the person you’ve always wanted to be.


How the 5-Second Rule can change your life?

  • Break the habit of hitting the snooze button.
  • Master self-monitoring
  • Become more present and productive
  • Stop doubting and start believing in yourself, your ideas, and abilities.
  • Have Inner strength to become a better, much happier person not for others
  • but for yourself.
  • Wake up the inner genius, leader, rockstar and change agent inside you.
  • Have clarity to hear greatness and having the courage to act on it.
  • Embrace change and the power of courage.
  • Ignore your fears and let your courage and confidence speak for you.

Five seconds of courage makes all the difference.

CHAPTER 2 – How I Discovered The 5-Second Rule

“Courage is found in unlikely places.”

This chapter talks about the darkest days of Mel’s life. Every time she wakes up in the morning, all she feels is dread. She felt defeated. She was 41, unemployed, in financial ruin, struggling with a drinking problem, and had zero confidence in his husband’s abilities to fix their problem.

She knew what she had to do to take her life around but could not make herself take action. Mel kept hitting the snooze button, the behavior was already a closed-loop pattern in her brain. She was always promising herself to change “Tomorrow.” The birth of Mel’s 5-second rule came after watching a TV ad of a rocket launching.

5..4..3..2..1. Launch. Just like that rocket, she thought to herself she’d do the same in getting out of bed the next morning. And at 6 in the morning, although she felt dread.. she finally did not hit the snooze button.

Change is hard

You know what you should or could be doing to make things better but you could not make yourself do those things. Even the small things like getting up on time. Knowing what you need to do isn’t enough to create change.

That’s the thing that makes changing so hard. Change requires you to do things that feel hard and scary. It requires courage and confidence.


5-second rule, move so fast, you won’t have time to talk yourself out of it.

Your brain and your body send you signals to wake up and pay attention. It may sound stupid at the moment but when you honor those signals with deliberate action, it can change your life.

When it comes to goals, dreams, and changing your life, you have to bet on yourself.
That bet starts with hearing the instinct to change and honoring that instinct with

Ignore how you feel. Don’t think. Just do what needs to be done. Instead of hitting the snooze button, count backwards. 5..4..3..2..1. Launch yourself out there.

CHAPTER 3 – What Can You Expect When You Use It?

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

The 5-second rule is a “starting ritual” that activates the prefrontal cortex, helping
to change your behavior.

When you count backward, you mentally shift the gears in your mind from your default thinking to what psychologists call “assert control.” You are distracted from your excuses and make you focus on a new direction. There is a five-second window between your initial instinct to act and your brain stopping you. You are holding you back five seconds at a time. Pushing yourself to take simple action creates a chain reaction in your confidence and your productivity. You create momentum and experience a sense of freedom and power. By using the 5-second rule, you break out of a mental jail.


Locus control: the more you believe that you are in control of your life, your actions and your future, the happier and more successful you’ll be.

Motivation is a myth. If you want to improve your life, you’ll need to get off your rear end and kick your own butt. You control your own fate.

The 5-second rule gives you the framework, the courage, and the method for how to push yourself to change. It will haunt you and it will not make things easy but it makes things happen.


You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than five seconds. We hold ourselves back in the smallest, most mundane moments every day, and that impacts everything.

It’s not the big moves that define our lives; it’s the smallest ones. The moment you decide not to take action on those small things… over time, those small decisions build and you’ll keep repeating the pattern of hesitating and doubting yourself that these actions are now encoded in your brain.

CHAPTER 4 – Why The Rule Works?

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” –

How to use the rule?

Anytime there’s something you know you should do, but you feel uncertain, afraid, or overwhelmed…take control by counting backward 5- 4- 3- 2- 1. That’ll quiet your mind. As soon as you get to 1, move.

Why it works?

Counting backward quiets your mind. It distracts you from your worries, prompts you to act, and interrupts the habits of hesitating.

When you count up, you keep counting. When you count backward, there is nowhere to go after you reach 1.

Just Do It vs 5SR:

“Just Do It” is a concept—it’s what you need to do. The #5SecondRule is a tool—it’s how you make yourself do it. Nike’s tagline recognizes the fact that right before we act, we first stop, and think. The word “JUST” acknowledges that we’re all struggling to push ourselves to be better. We hesitate. Nike knows we have greatness in ourselves outside of our excuses and fears.

The 5-second window:

The longer you wait between your initial impulse to act and physically moving, the louder the excuses get, and the harder it becomes to force yourself to move.

Those five-second decisions turn into 50 seconds and then 500 seconds when the fear is deeper.

If it works for you to shorten, personalize the rule and make it work for you. “Why contemplate life’s complexities when you can be moving ahead after just 3 seconds. ”

Where to use it?
  • Change behavior: create new habits and pull yourself from destructive ones
  • Act with courage: quiet your self-doubt and build confidence
  • Control your mind: stop the negative thoughts; break anxiety, and fear

Every time you catch yourself hesitating, it is a push moment! The five-second window is opened and it is time to 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to push yourself forward and be bigger than your excuses.

Change your decisions and you’ll change your life. If you have the courage to start, you have the courage to succeed.

CHAPTER 5 – Everyday Courage

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

  • It’s a push. The kind of push we give ourselves when we stand up, speak up, show up, go first, raise our hand or do whatever feels hard, scary, or uncertain.

    Everyday life is full of moments that are scary, uncertain, and difficult. Facing these moments and unlocking the opportunity, magic, and joy in your life requires tremendous courage.

    The power of push: It’s a moment when your instincts, values, and goals align, and you move so quickly you don’t have time or a valid reason to stop yourself.
  • It’s a birthright that is inside all of us. You were born with it and you can tap into it anytime you want. It’s not a matter of confidence, education, status, personality, or profession. It’s simply a matter of knowing how to find it when you need it. And when you need it, you’ll probably be alone.
  • It’s what transforms everything. Inside every decision there exist five seconds of courage that can change everything in our lives.
    When you push yourself, you may not change the world, the laws, or spark a civil rights movement but you’ll change something equally as important—you’ll change yourself.

    It’s not the big moves that change everything, it’s the smallest ones in your life that do.

CHAPTER 6 – What are you waiting for?

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Whatever reason you use to hold yourself back—you are wrong. It’s not safer to stay quiet. It’s not better to keep the peace. It’s not futile to try. It’s not risky. You are wrong. There is no “right time” to improve your life. The best time to do it is right now when your heart tells you to move.

Fear failure, rejection, or not being good enough.
• Ask what if you’re wrong?
• So what?
• What are you waiting for?

Stop yourself from letting those worries drag you into a parade of worries that take control of your mind. You can assert yourself and push yourself to think about something empowering. You step back into the present moment and go for what you want. And you can do it in five seconds flat.

Stop waiting.

Don’t wait to feel ready. We are all capable of greatness. Sometimes there is no next time, no second chance, or no waiting. Stop waiting. It’s now or never.

You may be afraid of finding out that you suck. But what really sucks is being older and regretting that you never went for it.

There is no right time. There is only right now. You get one life. This is it. And it’s not going to begin again. It’s up to you to push yourself to make the most of it and the time to do it is right now.

The ending isn’t the point. Starting is.

You really are just one decision away from a completely different life. Almost doesn’t count. To change anything, you have to actually do it.

CHAPTER 7 – You’ll Never Feel like it.


We make almost every single decision not with logic, not with our hearts, not based on our goals or dreams—but with our feelings. And our feelings in the moment are almost never aligned with what’s best for us.

Study after study shows that we opt for what feels good now or feels easier rather than doing the things that we know in our hearts will make us better in the long run.

Separate what you feel from the actions that you take.

You are not battling your ability to do something. You are battling your feelings about doing it. The biggest mistake you could make is to buy into the lies your feelings are telling you. If you don’t learn how to untangle your feelings from your actions, you’ll never unlock your true potential.

Small but monumental steps.

Our minds aren’t stupid. It’s not like you can just tell your mind, ‘Think Positively.’ You’ve got to nudge it a little more along.” I believe you must do more than nudge. You must push right through the feelings that stop you and do the work to break the habits that hold you back. And then, you need to replace each and every one of these destructive habits with a habit of courage.”

CHAPTER 8 – How to Start using the Rule

Push yourself

That first bout of activation energy is so uncomfortable, but If you don’t get that huge push (like you did as a kid when your mother turned off the TV and said, “It’s a beautiful day, get outside and go do something.”) your brain will inevitably take you down the path of doing nothing.

Wake up Earlier

This one small act of getting up when the alarm rings demonstrate that you have the inner strength to do what needs to be done.

If you can get up on time, start your day powerfully, plan ahead, think about your goals, and focus on yourself, all before you get bogged down in your daily routine, then you will simply accomplish more. This is the first step to taking control of your life.


I can relate to Mel Robbins and the people who testified on the book in so many levels. We set a goal and we already know what we need to do at first. In losing weight, exercise. In mastering something, practice. In finishing a book, read! But a lot of us always end up not doing them and the challenge most of the time is not because we don’t have the ability to do them nor the tools; we just don’t get started.

The beginning is indeed always the hardest. We need that push to get up and take the first step. Just like when your mom opens up the curtain to tell you to wake up and start the day. Not all of us has somebody who can push us and of course, we should
not have to rely on other people to push ourselves up to achieve something. It’s something we must all learn to do on our own. That’s discipline.

Me, I personally believe that I am a disciplined person. I have no challenges waking up, I launch myself out of the bed on or before the sound of my alarm. On workdays, I always strive to maximize my shifts. I work, rarely take a mid-shift break, and get my
tasks done. But just like Mel Robbins, I also have my fair share of troubles in beating the Governor in my head.

I have goals that I fail to achieve because the devil in my head just tempts me with so many excuses each time I think about doing them. It could be the weekends when it tells me to just relax and chill and take a break from any work and do them next time. It
could be rainy days, when it’s just really serene and a good time to sleep. It could be Mondays when I still have the entire week to do something. Other times, my own thoughts would always taunt me with fear and all these “what ifs?”. I delay some things
because I overthink them and I end up gathering so many reasons not to do actually
do them.

Mel is right, to get past through the temptations, you should just not overthink things and just act on it the moment you remember it. Too much thinking and your brain will talk you out of it. You will hesitate and hesitation is a killer. It does not just kill your action on that very moment. It kills your opportunity to get rid of your bad habits and it kills your first step in the long journey to self-discipline.

So moving forward, the moment we remember something, we use the rule. Count backwards, 5-4-3-2-1 and GO. Take action. Put on your running shoes. Grab that healthy snack. Raise your hand on the meeting. Call your customer. Talk to that attractive person.

For me, that’s 5-4-3-2-1 and get up, study with my son. Do my Kaizen Personal Notes. Clean my room. Bath Suki (our dog). These are my daily challenges I procrastinate on that I must overcome and should be able to overcome with the 5-second rule. If I
overcome my “Governor” and take control in these small mundane things, I can lead myself well to my big goals too.

The point is not about how those decisions are going to end up, it’s all about being able to push ourselves to start NOW.

Again, DISCIPLINE, not motivation. As they say: "Motivation only exists as a noun. But discipline has a verb form. In other words,
discipline is something you do, and choose to do; motivation is a thing that can come and go, which you cannot choose to do or control."

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About author
A Mass Communication graduate, Necta wrote digital content for over 3 years across a number of industries before joining NaXum. She is now enriching lives as the President of Operations of one of the greatest referral marketing system providers.
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