Feelings are not proper guides to action, but they are a tremendous and compelling aspect of our lives. Whatever goals you are pursuing, there may be moments when you don’t feel like doing the task at hand. How do you manage this conflict?
Although you may not always feel like sticking to your diet, working on your writing, or speaking in front of strangers, if your chosen goals require these tasks, you need a way to overcome this resistance. To help you tackle this challenge, I recommend a technique called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.
The technique is simple, and you can try it out immediately. The moment you know that you should act on a goal but find yourself hesitating, count backwards from five, and then physically move. The technique works by prompting you to activate your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that is active when you focus and take deliberate action. Instead of telling yourself to “just do it,” this process gives you a trigger for doing it.
For example, a woman who needs to speak up more at work but is overcome with doubt can, when she has an idea to share, count down from five, then raise her hand. Someone struggling to stick to a diet who finds himself reaching for a bag of junk food can count down from five, put the bag down, and walk away. Someone who wants to get in shape, but finds himself procrastinating during his workout time, can use the technique to put on his shoes and get started with his exercise.
Robbins outlines the technique at length in her book, The 5 Second Rule, which I recommend. It illustrates many practical applications of the technique to change your behavior, overcome bad habits, and increase your productivity. It focuses on building momentary courage to act on your goals despite difficulty, uncertainty, even fear.
One thing I most enjoyed was the author’s focus on achieving your values through your own choices and effort. She is adamant that we are responsible for our happiness and can achieve it. She is clear that her technique won’t make changing your habits effortless—but will help make it easier.
Try the technique and see whether it helps. I’d love to hear how it works for you.