This week I thought I’d touch on a serious life hack that I use ALL the time. I’m amazed that we’re so far in and I haven’t shared this trick with you!

Mel Robbins, who has a formidable skill set as a lawyer, journalist, and keynote speaker, gave a talk at the 2011 TEDx San Francisco called “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” . The last couple minutes of her address deal with what she calls the “five-second rule” for self-motivation. Basically, it boils down to this:

Every day we have strong impulses in our heart and soul to take action that disrupts our complacent misery and improves our lives — it could be getting out of bed right when the alarm rings for a workout, raising our hand to make an important suggestion in a business meeting, or just talking to somebody interesting at a party. When those impulses occur, we have about five seconds before the primitive brain engages safety measures and suppresses the thought. (Remember, the unconscious mind likes to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and maximize its efficiency at doing both).

So how do you get out of the funk?! The key is to steel yourself to action by counting down, sort of like a rocket ship. You count: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … and then you DO the thing that you should do, even if you don’t want to.

I’m not gonna lie: it’s really hard to do this. The unconscious brain doesn’t want to work. It wants to keep you safe and comfortable. Once the unconscious mind is accustomed to its sad, boring routine, you’ll have to drag it kicking and screaming into the light by action, and the five-second rule is one such way to disrupt unhealthy patterns. But with time and practice, you can look ahead to the reward you will feel for making good on your impulse to action.

As you apply the five-second rule, you’ll be able to loosen your unconscious mind’s grip on your life. You can remind yourself how good it will feel once you do The Thing your unconscious doesn’t want to do, and you will be accustomed to action. As you take steps to take control, the payout will be WELL worth it!

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