Unemployed, facing bankruptcy, marital challenges, struggling with alcohol. It seemed like life was mounting challenge upon challenge on Mel Robbins. She responded with excuses, and nothing changed. Until one morning when she decided to rocket out of bed, instead of hitting snooze and giving herself every reason to stay in it. The 5 Second Rule was born… And it led to incredible transformation and growth in her own life that Mel now shares with others.
Mel Robbins is a dream guest for the Goal Digger Podcast, and it’s so special to finally have the opportunity to interview her on this show that started 499 episodes ago with a single decision. As Mel believes and teaches, you are one decision away from a different life.
In this conversation, we’re exploring the critical moments that set her on a new path, the 5 Second Rule that has become the foundation of her personal transformational journey and teachings, and the High Five challenge you’re invited to join to encourage, support, and celebrate yourself.
5 Seconds Changed Everything
At the very start of the conversation, Mel Robbins dives deep into the hard stuff — the time in her life when she felt anchored to rock bottom and the events that got her there. You have to hit play to hear the full context, but the abridged version is this: One morning, instead of marinating in bed like a “human pot roast” as she said, the image of a rocket on TV inspired her to count down from 5 and launch out of bed.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Up and out of bed. Taking on the morning, getting her kids to school, encouraging her husband rather than fighting with him. Mel decided to approach her days differently than she had before, and each morning started with a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown. Somehow, to her shock, it changed everything for her.
Little did she realize at the time that this countdown method actually has a firm basis in science.
Science of 5 Seconds
Mel explained, “We all know that you cannot think your way to a new life. You must act your way there. And inside of a five second window, you have a habit of hesitating and that habit of hesitating for five seconds. What I know now is this, the moment you start to think about what you need to do, the subconscious part of your brain kicks in where all of your habits are stored.”
For example, let’s say you’re sitting at a family gathering and you have this impulse that you need to say something. Maybe somebody in the family is droning on about politics and it’s getting toxic and you’re thinking they just need to shut up, and you have an impulse. So you start thinking about it and within five seconds you’re now trapped in the autopilot or subconscious part of your brain where anxiety, procrastination, perfectionism, and insecurity, and now you’re running on a loop. Instead of saying what you wanted to say, you’re now just thinking about it.
“If you go 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, just even in your own mind,” Mel continued, “What happens is you move from the subconscious part of your brain and the counting backwards requires you to focus on the counting that awakens your prefrontal cortex… That’s the part of the brain that you use when you learn new things. When you act with courage, when you think intentionally or strategically, it’s the part of the brain that gives you immediate control over what you think and do next. So by counting backwards, you are interrupting habits of thinking and habits of behavior that holds you back.”
“The fancy term is metacognition in the language of habit research,” Mel told me.
The High 5 Habit
Mel’s new book, The High 5 Habit, is out now. She told me she’s never been more excited for something she’s created, but Mel knew the book wasn’t ready (and she wasn’t ready) to have it out into the world until now.
“Just like the five second rule, it is born out of a very low moment in my life. It starts with a very simple and stupid sounding thing that has crazy amounts of science behind it,” Mel continued, “The theme that this book tackles is one that we talk about all the time that we all know we need to be better at, and that is self-love.”
“The five second rule helps you take action, and the high-five habit fundamentally changes who you are and how you relate to yourself,” she explained.
The habit is simple — high five yourself in the mirror. Press play to hear how this act of self-celebration and its impact on your self talk is again rooted in science and psychology. Mel put it simple, “When you receive a high five, it is a shared celebration of your existence. You are being seen, you are being celebrated for the unique person that you are. I am here to tell you when you make it a habit to raise your hand and high five yourself in the mirror, you will not only change how you relate to yourself, but you will change what is possible because you will be tapping into the single greatest motivational force on the planet. And that is feeling seen, celebrated and supported.”
Join the Challenge
The High 5 Challenge invites you to wake up five mornings in a row and begin your day with a high-five in the mirror. You’ll also receive journal prompts and be invited to post a photo of yourself so millions of people can cheer you on, too. Join the challenge and get the book at high5habit.com.