5,4,3,2,1 now just do it.

I had the pleasure of being invited to a client’s summer party recently, during the evening we got on to the subject of business books and my client said that business books were just a waste of time and that they were all simply common business sense.

Now I guess to him this is very true, he runs a very successful business and is backed up by a great team so I suggested to him that is very much common sense to him because he uses a good amount of learned skills to run his business very successfully.

This reminded me of a book called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and in her book she goes on to say that humans tend to do things they “feel” like doing not what they “should” be doing. We all know that we “should” drink less, eat healthier, exercise more, stop smoking, go to bed sooner, not hit the snooze button. But do we do it? No, more often than not we don’t because we don’t “feel” like it.

So in life and in business we need to accept knowing what we should do is simple, but doing it is not easy. In Mel Robbins’ book she started with getting out of bed in the morning and how she was the master of the snooze button. One evening on her television she noticed an advert that was counting down, 5,4,3,2,1 and she thought to herself it was like a rocket launch and that in the morning she was going to count down from 5 and launch herself out of bed. It worked, not just for one day but for years after.

So what is the significance of the 5 second rule?  Mel did extensive research as to why this worked so well for her and the findings were it was a great area of distraction for the brain. Take the above example of getting out of bed in the morning, if we let ourselves think about whether or not we should get out of bed, within 5 seconds of active thought our brain will come up with lots of good reasons why we should hit the snooze button. Whereas the act of counting back from 5 distracts your brain to allow you to get up by the time you get to 1.

So how can we use this in business? Like I said above, often we know what we should do but ultimately we end up doing what we feel like doing so whether it’s:

  • I should get up to date information with the help of Xero accounting software;
  • I should write a business plan;
  • I should deal with that under-performing employee;
  • I should do that client tender;
  • I should start using social media.

All of these are simple thoughts but actually not easy to get going, so next time you have a moment where you know what you should do, don’t think about it, count down from 5 and when you get to 1 just do it.

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