The beginning of a new year is such an exciting time. I love the motivation buzz I get from thinking about the changes I’m going to make, the goals I want to reach, and becoming a better version of myself.
But a few days into January, my enthusiasm fades and keeping my resolutions becomes so much harder. A recent study even shows that 88% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.
So why is it so difficult to change our habits and stick to our goals?
Because we don’t feel like it.
Your brain’s most important job is to keep you safe and it considers new things scary and risky. When you stop to think about what you need to do to reach a goal or consider your feelings about doing it, your brain will do whatever it takes to talk you out of it.
We make almost every decision based on how we feel in the moment, and our feelings are almost never aligned with our dreams and goals.
When it comes to resolutions, you aren’t battling your ability to stick to a diet, exercise more, quit smoking, or advance your career. You are battling your feelings about doing it.
The good news is that even if you can’t control how you feel, you can always choose how you act. The secret to keeping your resolutions and achieving your goals is: you must ignore how you feel and do it anyways.
So how do you push past your feelings?
With the 5 Second Rule, a powerful research-backed metacognition technique for tricking your brain and pushing you to change and accomplish your goals.
The rule is simple: the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, start counting backward from 5. Once you get to 1, take action before your brain tries to stop you:
5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. GO!
Counting backward works by shifting the gears in your mind and activating a different area of your brain, the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is activated when you focus on something or take deliberate action. Counting backward also helps you focus on your goal and interrupts hesitation, overthinking, talking yourself out of it, and holding yourself back.
And no, counting upwards doesn’t work because then you could keep counting forever and never take action!
Use the 5 Second Rule whenever you feel an instinct fire up to act on a goal or resolution, or the moment you feel yourself hesitating on something you know you should do.
So if you want to start waking up earlier, once your alarm goes off, don’t hit the snooze button. Instead, count 5..4..3..2..1..GO and kick off the covers and get out of bed.
If you want to quit smoking and have a craving, 5..4..3..2..1 and start doing something else to redirect your mind.
If you want to start going to the gym but you don’t feel like working out, 5..4..3..2..1 and lace up your shoes and head out the door.
If you want to cut down on alcohol and find yourself pouring a drink, 5..4..3..2..1 and put the bottle down and walk away.
If you want to lose weight, 5..4..3..2..1 and put down the bag of chips and grab a healthy snack instead.
If you’ve always wanted to take a cooking class, instead of hesitating and talking yourself out it, 5..4..3..2..1 and go online and enroll.
See how easy it is?! Now go and kill it in 2018!
To find out more about the 5 Second Rule and how you can use it to be more productive, beat anxiety, face your fears, and much more, I highly recommend Mel Robbins’ life-changing book, The 5 Second Rule. Check it out here