“New year new me” … sound familiar? It’s that scripted reset button we use when the new year, a new job or that opportunity for change starts rolling in. It’s that flickering moment where we pull out those hidden reserves of motivation and inspiration to change our life, to do better… to be better. Add a quick google search and we now have all the tools we could ever need to achieve what we want. No excuses, right? Well maybe.
As a society we are so well-connected that finding the right resources is easy. We know that that our growth lies in the ability to step outside our comfort zone, to put in hard work to reap the rewards. What we don’t have access to is an endless supply of motivation, the kind that switches on when the regular routine of our busy lives takes over. So, we procrastinate, we push things to tomorrow and start to rationalize our actions with thoughts of “maybe this is just it,” or “maybe I should settle for what I have.” Our goals are momentarily put on hold until the next wave of motivational energy comes flooding through. Yet it’s this type of rationalized procrastination that can be debilitating and seriously affect our careers, relationships, and quality of life in ways that we know are unhealthy.
So how do we break free from old habits and create new ones?
If it was as simple as “just do it”, we would all have everything we want. We wouldn’t hesitate or deliberate on the consequences, the decision to act would just be there. While it is an unnatural habit this is not unobtainable. Research has shown that there is a way to disrupt the indecision cycle by to activating other parts of your brain, it’s called ‘The 5 Second Rule.’ According to Mel Robbins, former CNN contributor and author of the book “The 5 Second Rule” there is a systematic ‘5 second window’ to get the brain responding to challenges that come unnaturally.
The rule is simple: “If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.”
Mel Robbins explains that ‘The way that our minds are wired and the fact about human beings is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are trying to keep us alive, and in order to change, in order to build a business, in order to be the best parent, the best spouse — to do all those things that you know you want to do with your life, with your work, with your dreams, you’re gonna have to do things that are difficult, uncertain, or scary. Which sets up this problem for all of us: you’re never gonna feel like it. Motivation’s garbage. You only feel motivated to do the things that are easy.”
While this technique doesn’t instantly free us from procrastination, it does offer us a solution in conditioning the mind to focus on what is important. Doing things that we know are going to take physical, emotional or intellectual energy are always going to be hard and unfortunately, motivation doesn’t just happen. Motivation its driven by choices that take time, patience and self-discipline. Change can’t manifest itself out of thin air and it is up to the individual to make the hard decisions to embrace a challenging but more rewarding life.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from Mel’s book and from my own challenges is that you are literally “one decision away from a completely different life”. Putting things off and procrastinating is not only counterproductive but is an active decision to do the opposite of what you want in life. Don’t wait for motivation to hold your hand. Start taking the right steps or making the bold (sometimes hard) decisions today… 5 seconds could mean the difference of a lifetime.