We all have this one thing on our to-do list that we just keep re-writing week after week after week endlessly until we’re sick of it. It is there, we remember it and as much as it is uncomfortable to have to remind ourselves about it, it is easier not doing the thing than actually getting up and doing it. The thought of doing the thing is uncomfortable, we don’t feel confident, we feel anxious as it may be an important step, sometimes we just feel lazy because it could be a lot of work. Such cases vary from anything from booking a doctor’s appointment for the blood work you were supposed to do a year ago, to doing your taxes, to signing up for a course or asking for a pay raise, to starting that online business you’ve been dreaming about. I for sure have a few things like this on my list and I am working hard to work through this list and do all the scary things as soon as possible.
Strangely enough, what I find particularly terrifying and difficult are all the things to do with my own emotional wellbeing. Things that constantly occupy my mind and greatly affect my day to day mental state are the ones I resolve last. It can take me weeks to tell my flatmates I want to move out, it is never the right time to speak to the boss about quitting that side job and its just awkward to remind that friend who owes you money that they should pay up. Contrary to what seems logical, instead of relieving myself of the emotional discomfort I keep doing nothing about it, apart from occasional venting to someone on Whatsapp. These should be normal topics that people communicate to each other and easily talk about – I am scared and can go on for months without doing anything about the situation.
Since I have embarked on this self-improvement journey I have been trying to be more bold and demanding and actually go after all my wants and needs. In an effort to get inspired, motivated and just see how other people are dealing with fears of this sort I have read a fair share of articles, watched YouTube videos and listened to podcasts. Some were longer, some shorter, some more informative and practical, some filled with inspirational quotes and rather esoteric but what they all seem to agree on one thing: getting what you want is very simple. It may not be easy, but it is simple.
There is only one rule when it comes to success, there’s only one rule when it comes productivity and there’s only one rule when it comes to getting everything you’ve ever wanted…. You’re never going to feel like it!
Now imagine – if you only did the things that you don’t feel like doing, the things you postpone endlessly you will have everything you’ve ever wanted. In those areas where you’re happy you go and do the thing but in those areas where you’re not happy… you don’t feel like it. Sounds familiar, right?
So how can you be effective with yourself knowing that you’re never going to feel like doing all the work that it takes to have things work out the way you want?
You’re going to use the 5 second rule.
The 5 second rule is a concept developed by Mel Robbins which she expands on in her book The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage but which boils down to doing the thing straight away. From the moment you have the idea, the thought comes to you and you feel like you maybe should take action but you don’t feel like it, you’ll do it later, the timing is awkward…. no. Just go and do it because you’ll never feel like it anyway. Not later, not tomorrow, never.
It’s not as simple as, “Just do it.” If it was that simple, we would all live our dream lives and have everything we want. There’s something really basic that has to happen before we take action – we must learn to overcome our own feelings. Because of the way your brain is programmed, when your thoughts and feelings are at war, when there is a debate between what you know you should be doing and what you feel like doing, your feelings are always going to win.
If you have an hour listen to the podcast below. If not, keep reading.
We all struggle with something.
Do you ever find yourself making to-do lists and then not following through on them? Like every single day? Or thinking, “What the hell is wrong with me? I know what I’m supposed to be doing, why can’t I just do it?” I know I am. Like every single day.
I guess we can all agree that knowing what to do will never be enough, just knowing why you need to do it will never be enough. So we need is something that’s going to put us into a state of action, something to trigger us to actually getting up and doing the thing. Because if you’re sitting around waiting for motivation, well, it’s not coming. We keep finding reasons why it’s not a good time and why doing it later is a better idea, we rationalise to the point when it’s almost absurd. I know for sure I am guilty of that. I had my friends catching me multiple times listing all the reasons why doing something wasn’t going to work out and how it’s all going to end up really bad and we’re all gonna die in the end just because I asked for a pay raise or wanted my flatmates to stop eating my food.
The sad news is, though, that if you don’t start doing the things you don’t feel like doing, you will wake up one year from today and be in exactly the same place.
So here’s the simplest definition of the 5 second rule:
If you have an impulse to act on a goal or idea, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.
If you have a goal of losing weight, you can take action by researching healthy meals, reading before/after success stories, and setting reminders on your phone that will prompt you to go to the gym.
If you have a goal of starting your own business and have no idea where to start Google it right now and research companies in your field to see what they’re doing. Then google a free business plan template and fill it out. Get serious about it and put your intentions in writing.
Whatever your goals are, whatever the scary things are, show the world, and yourself, that you’re serious by taking action, even the smallest steps, RIGHT NOW.
I mention the 5 second rule because I really like Mel and the way she talks and explains these mechanisms. Of course we all know we should just do the thing, but hey, if it was easy, everyone would do it. Apparently the key to success is to start before you are ready, but precisely that is what makes it so scary, so it is imperative to realise you will never be ready. So may as well start now.
I should probably practice more of what I preach but I have actually been pretty good about it recently. I have asked for things I was scared to ask for, I went places I was scared to go and generally exposed myself to more uncomfortable situations than I have before. It is only scary in your head, after you take the step life goes on and more often then not everything turns out in your favour. So yea, don’t be afraid little one!
And if you need an inspirational quote, here’s a good one:
“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.
You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.
You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.
And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
You died when you refused to stand up for right.
You died when you refused to stand up for truth.
You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the sermon “But, If Not” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 5, 1967.”