Approximately 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. They chronically avoid difficult tasks and may deliberately look for distractions. Sounds familiar?
We often assume that procrastination is simply a matter of willpower, but in reality, the situation is far more complex than that. Anxiety, lack of motivation or fear of failure – so common feelings in middle aged-, can cause us to delay unnecessarily. Too often, we find ourselves procrastinating because we’re not sure what to do first. We feel overwhelmed, confused, or disorganized. We put off getting started because we’re not sure what the first step is.
According to Mel Robbins, author of ‘The 5 Second Rule‘, there is a simple way to stop screwing ourselves over.
Neuroscientists have found that people have about a five-second gap between a stimulus and the way they typically respond to it – Mel Robbins says -. It’s within this gap that you have the power to change your life. When you decide to do something, count back 5-4-3-2-1, and immediately take action. The more you do that, the more your brain gets wired for action and the less you’ll fall victim to your mental resistance.
The simple act of counting focuses you on the goal or commitment and distracts you from worries, thoughts and excuses in your mind. Of course, you must push yourself, even when you don’t want to. It’s about taking control of your own life, one push at a time: “The moment comes – she explains-. You feel the instinct. You know it’s tied to a goal. Right now. It’s a window. A window of opportunity“.
For Mel Robbins, physical movement is key. “That doesn’t mean you have to jump up and start doing squats. All you need to do is move in the direction of your instinct. If you do not take physical action within 5 seconds your brain will kill the instinct“.
This could mean a number of things. It means saying something you’ve been holding back. Speaking up at a meeting. Putting on your running shoes. Grabbing that healthy snack. Holding your tongue instead of saying something mean to your partner. Sending that email to a potential client or mentor. Anything that’s related to your goal.
These 5-second windows, as she calls them, are the critical moments between you changing your life and your brain stopping you.