When Mr Awesome and I were in Vegas last December, one of our favourite speakers was Mel Robbins. I have to confess I had never heard of her until then, and she was sandwiched between a bunch of other speakers in the agenda with no real differentiation. But here’s the thing – the other speakers were all network marketing professionals that have achieved significant success in their network marketing businesses. More or less, they all had a similar story and outcome, meant to inspire us to greatness in direct sales, I presume.

And then there was Mel. She is not a network marketer. She’s a lawyer, she’s a coach, she’s a world-renowned keynote speaker. She has a story. And she has a rule that has changed my life.

Little did I know then that I was watching a woman who, in a very short period of time, would COMPLETELY CHANGE how I operate.

Mel Robbins is the creator of the 5 Second Rule – and no, she didn’t invent the rule that you have five seconds to pick up food you’ve dropped on the floor. This is a rule that she created without even realizing it, in an effort to save her own career, her family, her marriage…I won’t share all the details because her telling her own story is WAY more powerful (check it out here). But suffice to say, she was in a bad place and needed a shift. And with something as simple as counting backwards 5-4-3-2-1 and getting out of bed, she changed her life.

What is The 5 Second Rule? It’s a metacognition tool (big science word for the win). As Mel says, most personal development books tell you WHAT you need to do, but the 5 Second Rule is HOW you do it. Here is her explanation of the Rule:

The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you.

I’m trying to figure out how to write this post, because I could share with you all the sections I have highlighted in my copy of her new book – that’s the hard copy I bought AFTER the Audible version because I became so obsessed that I needed BOTH – but I don’t want to give away all the awesome content. I could never do it justice anyway, but I want everyone I know to know about the rule, start using it, BUY THE BOOK…so I will share a few of the nuggets that really connected for me and started the obsession.

We all have habits we’re trying to stop, or new habits we’re trying to create. For the ones we want to stop, we instinctively and logically KNOW we should stop them, but we don’t FEEL like it. We have done these habitual actions so many times that we’re in a “habit loop.” They are now patterns encoded in our brains.

And believe it or not, by using this small rule, this one technique of counting backwards, you can break through that encoding and build the RIGHT habits. And yes, you have to physically move, AND you have to count backwards. These are key to the success of the rule, which she explains further. You are building new patterns in your brain, you are interrupting your current way of thinking and acting. Mel has done the research, she has investigated the heck out of why something as simple of counting from five to one actually WORKED to get her out of bed that day.

In her book she says that once you start using the rule, it will begin to haunt you. And it’s true. I use it for everything – getting out of bed, getting my workout gear on, pushing play on my workout, saying NO to a treat or going for that extra snack or serving. And I tell EVERYONE about it. The Rule finally got me back on track with my eating.

It is EMPOWERING to take control of the habits that have been dragging you down. It is empowering to know that you are in charge of your decisions and actions. I had been in a bit of a downward spiral lately – losing that control, letting my habits and less-than-ideal choices derail me from my goals. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t downing a litre of vodka and a bag of Doritos every night, but I was having larger portions that I should, I was having too many treats, my snacks were getting a bit out of hand…and I was FEELING it. My PANTS were feeling it. The Rule has empowered me to get back on track.

I cannot say enough about this book. But the best thing you could do is GO AND GET IT. Actually, you don’t even have to GO anywhere. I 100% recommend the audio book version on Audible – she does her own narration. She is a fantastic public speaker (here’s another example). If it wasn’t for my obsessive need to highlight the crap out of things that inspire me, put notes in the margins and stickies throughout, the audio version would have been enough.

I haven’t even gotten to the part where she addresses fear and anxiety. Even strategies to combat the fear of flying. And there are SO many stories of real people that saw her speak and immediately started using the rule, to incredible results. Even BEFORE the book was published. This one small rule WORKS.

I encourage you, even before you buy the book, to TRY the rule for yourself. The next time you are about to make a “not awesome” choice, that second you hesitate, count 5-4-3-2-1 and take action to a better decision. Put the cigarette down, don’t press snooze, buy that book some amazing person told you to get, push play on your workout – just DO IT. You’ll be glad you did.