The Five Second Rule - Mel Robbins

The Five Second Rule - Mel Robbins

Video Book Summary

Download all of the Mind Maps here.

Book Summary Notes

The Five Second Rule

“You are about to learn something remarkable—it takes just five seconds to change your life. Sounds like a gimmick, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s science. I’ll prove it to you. You change your life one five-second decision at a time. In fact, it’s the only way you change."

"This is the true story of the 5 Second Rule: what it is, why it works, and how it has transformed the lives of people around the world."

"The Rule is easy to learn and its impact is profound. It’s the secret to changing anything. Once you learn the Rule, you can start using it immediately."

"The Rule will help you live, love, work, and speak with greater confidence and courage every day. Use it once and it’ll be there for you whenever you need it.”

Tool For Habit Change

  • The Five Second Rule is one of the most effective tools to help you with habit change
  • This is the 'how' of getting yourself to do the things you know you should be doing!
  • This is also the 'how' of getting yourself to 'stop screwing yourself over' as Mel talks about in her TedTalk

Five Second Rule

“That’s one of the things I’ve learned using the 5SecondRule. When it comes to goals, dreams, and changing your life, your inner wisdom is a genius. Your goal-related impulses, urges, and instincts are there to guide you. You need to learn to bet on them. Because, as history proves, you’ll never know when your greatest inspiration will strike and where that discovery will lead you if you trust yourself enough to act on it."

"This is how some of the world’s most useful inventions were discovered. In 1826, John Walker discovered the match while he was using a stick to stir a pot of chemicals, and when he tried to scrape the gob off the end—it ignited. He followed his instinct to try to recreate it and this is how he discovered the match."

"In 1941, George de Mestral invented Velcro after noticing how easily cockleburs attached to his dog’s fur."

"In 1974, Art Fry got the idea for Post-It Note because he needed a bookmark that would stay put on a page in his hymnal until Sunday’s church service, but that would not damage the pages when he removed it."

"That’s even how the Frappuccino was born. In 1992, an assistant manager at a Starbucks in Santa Monica noticed that sales dropped whenever it was hot outside. He had an instinct to make a frozen drink and he followed it, asking for a blender, tinkering with recipes, and giving a Vice President a sample. The first Frappuccino rolled out in his store a year later."

"When it comes to change, goals, and dreams, you have to bet on yourself. That bet starts with hearing the instinct to change and honoring that instinct with action. I feel so thankful that I listened to that dumb idea about launching myself out of bed like a rocket because everything in my life changed as a result of it."

"Here’s what happened: The next morning the alarm clock rang at 6 a.m. and the first thing I felt was dread. It was dark. It was cold. It was winter in Boston and I did not want to wake up. I thought about the rocket launch and I immediately felt like it was stupid. Then, I did something I had never done before—I ignored how I felt. I didn’t think. I did what needed to be done."

"Instead of hitting the snooze button, I started counting. Backwards. 5..4..3..2..1.. And then I stood up.  That was the moment I discovered the 5secondrule."


Mel Discovered the Five Second Rule when she wasn't feeling so great..

  • She was 41 and unhappy in her marriage, struggling with finances and drinking a little too much!
  • Every morning she dread getting out of bed and hit the snooze button so many times that her kids sometimes missed the bus. 

Then one night she saw a TV commercial with a countdown..  5 4 3 2 1 Blastoff!

  • That's when she decided that the next morning she would blast herself out of bed..  Like a rocket!
  • And..  It worked!  A silly idea at first..  But it lead to something pretty extraordinary!


"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"

The brain is built to conserve energy.. That's one of the reasons why making any real change can feel so hard!

  • Because of this we often 'talk ourselves out' of doing the things we know we should do to move towards our goals..
  • The Five Second Rule is this beautiful little tool to help us act on our better instincts!

Getting Up From Desk

I sit at my desk a lot..  Even though I bought a standing desk!  

Other than this I exercise and try to eat healthy..  But sitting is the new smoking!

SO.. I want to stand up and move around more during the day!

  • This is what I practiced the Five Second Rule with..  
  • Every time I get the impulse to stand, stretch or just move I do it! 5-4-3-2-1 Blastoff!

The Long Game

“To play any game, you have to start. To win, you’ll need to keep going. If you want to make your dreams come true, get ready for the long game."

"Life is not a one-and-done sort of deal. You’ve got to work for what you want."   

"Do you know the game Angry Birds? Rovio, the brand that created the game, launched 51 unsuccessful games before they developed Angry Birds."

"How about The Avengers star Mark Ruffalo? Do you know how many auditions he did before he landed his first role? Almost 600!"

"Even Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times."

"My favorite vacuum cleaner is Dyson. And there’s no wonder why it doesn’t suck at sucking up the dirt. James Dyson created 5,127 prototypes!"

"And this last one will blow your mind. Picasso created nearly 100 masterpieces in his lifetime. But what most people don’t know is that he created a total of more than 50,000 works of art."

"Did you see that last number? 50,000. That’s two pieces of art a day."

"Success is a numbers game. And you’re not going to win it if you keep telling yourself to wait. The more often that you choose courage, the more likely you’ll succeed.”


Fear of 'Failure' is one of the most common reasons we don't act on our better impulses..  

But 'Failure' is really just an illusion.. 

  • The people listed above are looked at as some of the most successful people to have ever lived!
  • Even they failed more than they succeeded!  

'Failure' isn't a stopping point it's a learning point!

Everyday Courage

Overcoming failure takes something Mel calls "Everyday Courage" another beautifully simple concept!

Everyday courage is the courage it takes to be committed to the long game..  

  • The courage it takes to do the small things every day that move you towards your goal..
  • The courage it takes to act on your better impulses..  

How can you show a little bit of everyday courage today?

Excitement or Anxiety?

“I first used this ‘reframing strategy’ as a public speaker. I get a lot of questions about public speaking and specifically how did I get over my fears and nerves about public speaking. My answer always surprises people: I have never gotten over my fears and nerves; I just use them to my advantage."

"I speak for a living. A lot. In 2016, I was named the most-booked female speaker in America—98 keynotes in one year. Amazing. Do I get nervous? Absolutely. Every single time."

"But here's the trick: I don’t call it ‘nerves.’ I call it ‘excitement’ because physiologically anxiety and excitement are exactly the same thing. Let me say that again. Fear and excitement are the exact same thing in your body. The only difference between excitement and anxiety is what your mind calls it."

"The first time I ever really gave a legitimate speech was that TEDx Talk in San Francisco. I remember standing backstage listening to one PhD after another PhD give their talks, thinking to myself, ‘This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever gotten myself into. I am going to sound like a complete moron compared to these smart people."

"My palms were sweaty. My heart was racing. My face was hot. My armpits were dripping like Niagara Falls. My body was preparing itself for ACTION! It was getting ready to do something. But I told myself that I was nervous. I labeled all those sensations as a sign that something bad was about to happen and the nerves got worse."

"Want to know something wild? Six years and hundreds of speeches later... I still feel the EXACT same things in my body back stage. My palms sweat. My heart races. My face gets hot. My armpits start dripping. Physiologically, I’m in a state of arousal. I’m about to go into ACTION and my body is getting ready. I feel the exact same thing as fear, I just channel it in a positive direction.”


This is a reframing technique that Mel is teaching us here..  Instead of thinking 'I'm Anxious' think 'I'm Excited'

Because as Dr. Shad Helmstetter would say..

  • "You're mind simply believes what you tell it the most"
  • Using this technique to re-frame your anxiety is very powerful!

Say it outloud..  Say it in your head..  Begin to know that Anxiety is really just Excitement!


What is excitement really? 

It's a state where you are ready to perform at your absolute best..  

  • So why wouldn't your body give you all the symptoms of Anxiety?
  • Increased Pulse and Bloodflow
  • Increased Awareness
  • Single Minded Focus
  • All of these are good things!  They help you perform..  But when we see them as 'Anxiety' they become negatives!


“Managing distractions is like following through on health goals. You’re never going to feel like it; you just have to make yourself do it. You already know that being addicted to your phone, texting, and answering emails is a distraction... but stopping it feels impossible."

"Even though you know you should turn off pop-up alerts, silence your phone, and stop checking email every five minutes, this knowledge doesn’t change your behavior."

"I could bury you with research about how bad this is, but it wouldn’t change your behavior. This is where the #5SecondRule comes into play—you don’t have to want to do it, you just have to push yourself to do it."

"First, you must decide that distractions are not good. Interruptions of any sort are the kiss of death for your productivity. Research shows open office spaces are a nightmare for focus. Checking email can become an addiction because of what behavioral researchers call ‘random rewards.’ You have to decide that your goals are more important than push notifications. It’s that simple."

"Then, you just remove them. I’m not claiming this is rocket science. I’m also not going to tell you that it’s easy. But I promise you that if you use the #5SecondRule, you’ll actually do it.”

Death by Distraction

There are so many distractions in today's modern environment..

  • Phone
  • Social Media
  • YouTube ;)
  • Other People's Problems

This wouldn't be a problem if..  Our minds weren't wired to specifically be looking for these distractions!  

  • What if our minds were wired specifically for deep work? 
  • What if we only craved focusing on one thing until completion?

I believe that it's possible to re-wire your brain to crave that type of focus..  Through the power of deep work and flow!

  • Flow states are the most enjoyable thing for human beings..
  • Actually if you're accustomed to Flow states you CRAVE them!  
  • I know since starting this YouTube Channel I have become addicted to creating these Mind Maps..  It's my favorite thing to do!  Like seriously.. 

What Should You Do?

Mel says you need to just remove distractions..  and I agree!  

  • Turn on restrictions on your phone and give someone else the password!  (This is a game changer)
  • Turn your phone onto GreyScale so it's not as enticing!
  • Put an app blocker on your browser for your distraction websites..  
  • What other things could you do?

But you also need to feed your mind something!  So learn to feed it deep work and flow states..  Make it crave those conditions to push your skills to their limits!

Reveal Your Greatness

“Yes, you can move mountains. Whatever is happening right now, this is it. This is your life. And it’s not going to begin again. You can’t change the past, but in five seconds you can change your future."

"That’s the power of everyday courage. When your heart speaks, honor it, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1- and move. One moment of courage can change your day. One day can change your life. And your life can change the world."

"There is greatness in you. The time to reveal it is now. 5...4...3...2...1...GO!”

Simple Concept

I love the Five Second Rule because it's such a simple concept..  

But as Mel shows in this quote it has exponential effects!

  • One moment to change your day
  • One day to change your life
  • One life to change the world
Back to blog