The 3 Second RuleApr 19, 2022
Do you find yourself struggling to find motivation or take action? Do you put off your most important things to get done and find yourself keeping ‘busy’ but not creating meaningful progress and results? Do you feel like procrastination is a curse you’ll have to live with forever? The 3 second rule can help with all of that (and no, it has nothing to do with how long it’s safe to eat food after it’s fallen on the ground).
In a nutshell, the 3 second rule is a way to say to yourself ‘ready or not, here I go’. Whenever you find yourself delaying to act you will count down, out loud, 3, 2, 1, GO! And then immediately get started on whatever it is you’ve been putting off.
Before we go any further, it’s important for a reminder that you should not mistake how insanely simple this can be for something that is not extremely effective. Sometimes we read what seems like the most obvious ‘well, duh’ type of advice, and we write it off or roll our eyes at it. This is one of those things that is so simple, yet can powerfully change your ability to act.
Mel Robbins even wrote an entire book on this, The 5 Second Rule, and although I candidly did not read the whole thing - I read enough, and have enough experience with using this technique, that I can summarize it for you in a couple minutes time:
Basically, if we put off taking action when we have an impulse to do so, for longer than 5 seconds, our likelihood of acting decreases and we start defaulting to INaction, procrastination, or having to rely heavily on willpower. Sure, you can use 5 seconds if you want, but I’ve found 3 seconds works just fine and creates even more urgency on taking action. By training ourselves to act, right away, we can take the hardest step in taking action - the act of getting started.
How many times have you found yourself super motivated after listening to an encouraging podcast, sermon, motivational speaker or video and thinking ‘this time will be different, I’m unstoppable and ready to take action.’ And what happened next after days, hours, or even just minutes passed by? You probably went back to your daily routines and possible bad habit of procrastination. Don’t worry, you’re not alone - but you need to start retraining yourself if you ever want this to change.
Next time you find any ounce of procrastination creeping up, of doubt, of worry, of fear, or of anything keeping you from taking action: start counting down and get ready for takeoff. 3, 2, 1, GO. Not feeling like getting to the gym today? 3, 2, 1, GO - stand up, get your shoes on, and start heading there. Not wanting to pick up the phone to call that client/friend/family member and have the tough conversation? 3, 2, 1, GO - start dialing. Wanting to snooze the alarm and put off getting your day started? 3, 2, 1, GO - rip the sheets off and stand up.
You can apply this to anything and everything. This technique has helped myself and so many other people I’ve worked with in everything from working out, taking cold showers, getting themselves on camera for social media, saying sorry, sitting down to write for a book (or article like this), to even changing their mood and DECIDING that it’s not okay to stay stressed/angry/anxious/tired.
Before you discount this technique - go try it out. You owe it to yourself to give it a shot and start taking action, no matter how simple or silly this can feel. You’ll be surprised at the effect this can have on your ability to just take action, and you’ll be even more surprised at the effect taking consistent action can have on transforming your life. What are you waiting to take action on? Quit thinking about it and start acting on it - 3, 2, 1...GO!
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