I’ve read a lot of personal development books. I mean, a lot.

Some were game-changers like Deep Work by Cal Newport and Atomic Habits by James Clear. Some were lovely motivators that added to my subconscious in subtle, inspiring ways like You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero and Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. And some ended up being DNF because I just couldn’t connect like The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

Some books struck a chord so deep within me that I re-read them on a yearly basis, like Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert … oh my gosh, I love that book … and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

And then there’s The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, which is now listed among my favorites. Why? Because unlike so many others, it offers a tool … a concrete, specific action you can sink your teeth into and use on a daily basis to improve your life.

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I had first heard about The 5 Second Rule the same way so many others did: In Mel Robbins’ first TEDx Talk called How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over. The concept was simple and yet so effective:

If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.


If you decide to go for a run, write a chapter scene, or make an important call, quickly say to yourself 5-4-3–1 and then take action. Because otherwise, you’ll talk yourself out of it.

But it looks like it’s going to rain soon. I’ll run later when the weather is nicer.

Maybe I should load the dishwasher and start some laundry before beginning that chapter. Wouldn’t hurt to throw a roast in the crockpot plus pay those bills, too. I’ll write later once that’s done.

It’s probably too early for a phone call … I’ll call later.

But then what happens? Later never happens and the task goes undone, leaving you frustrated, annoyed, and farther from your goals.

After listening to the TED Talk, I had a good understanding of the concept, but because I was still struggling to utilize it, I purchased the e-book version.

Have to admit … as much as I love Mel Robbins, I abandoned the book after chapter two. My reasoning had more to do with laziness and resistance, however, and not the content, although I have read reviews from many other readers who did not connect with the book. Some also found the many social media screenshot testimonials to be annoying, which did break the flow.

I decided to give the book another try while riding the productivity struggle bus a week ago. (Actually, it was more like I was being run over the struggle bus like I was a human speed bump, back and forth, over and over again, every day.) This time, however, I paid for the audio version on Audible.

Oh. My. Gosh. What a difference!

The audio version felt more like a conversation and informative podcast, with Mel often going off script, adding thoughts and details that made the testimonials make more sense with better flow. There were times when the stories she shared were so endearing that her voice cracked with emotion, leaving both of us in tears.

Her chapter on productivity completely smacked me in the face, resonating SO MUCH, that I listened to it three times. The testimonial she shared from a gentleman under stress was MY STORY, bringing goosebumps to my arms.

So. To wrap this up: Do you need to read this book in order to start utilizing the 5 Second Rule and change your life for the better? No. Everything you need to know is in her brilliant TED Talk.

However. I highly, highly recommend listening to the audio version so this concept will fully hit home.

And bonus? You can listen while loading the dishwasher and doing laundry. Total win-win for me!

What about you?

Have you ever tried the 5 Second Rule? If so, what were your results and how has it changed your life?

Thanks so much for reading, take care, and have a joyful day!

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