We’ve all been there. You plan to go to a workout class after work or you hype yourself up to finally speak up during your next group meeting, but when the time comes to do it, your motivation seems to disappear. According to Melanie Robbins, an accomplished lawyer, television host, author, and motivational speaker, you have 5 seconds to act before your brain shuts your motivation down.
The idea behind technique Robbins dubbed the “5 Second Rule” is simple: when you feel yourself hesitate about something you have been planning to do, she claims mentally counting down from 5 will activate your prefrontal cortex and prevent overthinking, self-doubt and fear.
The Science Behind the 5 Second Rule
Robbins’ technique may seem like a no-brainer, but it has scientific backing.
- Metacognition: The 5 Second Rule draws on metacognition, which is basically thinking about your thinking. This awareness allows you to avoid mental habits that may prevent yourself from changing or stepping outside of the daily activities that have become your comfort zone. Snoozing your alarm may be comfortable, while putting on your sneakers and going for a run is not—yet. The 5 Second Rule allows you to make your brain work for your goals rather than against them.
- The Prefrontal Cortex: Activating the prefrontal cortex influences motivation and allows the brain to metaphorically “start” an activity when it’s time. It also allows the body to ignore distractions and execute plans.
6 More Ways to Increase Your Motivation
1. Set Realistic Goals
Dreaming big is great, but small goals are better for increasing motivation because they are achieved more quickly. When you can see the end in sight and the payoff happens in a shorter amount of time, you’re more likely to stick with it. It’s also important that these goals be measurable and specific.
2. Make a Public Commitment
Most people have a certain amount of pride that they aren’t willing to compromise. When you make a goal, share them with your friends and family to make yourself more accountable. You may lose motivation or convince yourself not to do something if you’re the only one who knows about it, but you’re more likely to complete something if you told someone else your plans. Better yet, include your support system in your goals to make your motivation even stronger. If you know your friend is waiting for you at the trailhead, you’ll be more likely to meet them there instead of heading straight home after work.
3. Turn No Into Yes
A lack of motivation often comes with a litany of pessimistic thoughts. While negative thoughts can make you feel stuck, train yourself to focus on the potentially positive outcome instead. Looking at both sides of a situation can help you see that it really is possible and that your tendency to automatically go to the negative isn’t accurate. Developing a more balanced outlook can help you feel more motivated to try the things you want to achieve.
4. Make Tasks More Fun
It can be difficult to feel motivated to do something when you’re absolutely dreading it. When there is something you have no motivation to do, pair it with something you enjoy to make it better. If you’re not looking forward to your time on the treadmill, watch one of your favorite television shows while you walk. If you procrastinate when it’s time to clean your house, plan a long call to catch up with a friend to make it go faster. While adding fun is encouraged, it’s important to make sure you don’t let it distract you from performing the task at hand.
5. Take Time for Self-Care
If you’re not feeling your best, you’re less likely to be motivated to achieve much of anything. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly to help support your mind and body.
When life gets busy and you find it hard to maintain your energy levels naturally, taking a supplement can help. CoQ10 is a nutrient naturally produced in the body that is required to produce energy in its cells. When the body has low levels of CoQ10, the body’s cells cannot produce the energy they need to grow and stay healthy.
Smarter Ubiquinol is formulated with the active form of CoQ10, which means its antioxidant properties are ready for the body to use. Ahiflower Seed Oil, one of the highest omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acid profiles of any plant source in the world, is added to provide additional health benefits.
6. Look Fear in the Face
Oftentimes, where we lack motivation we overflow with fear. Jerry Seinfeld once joked that some people would rather be in a casket than doing a eulogy. While it likely got a lot of laughs, many people probably identified with the idea of being less afraid of the thought of death than having to speak in front of an audience. While fear is one of the most common reasons people give up on their goals, they don’t realize confidence is within their grasp. Facing your fears is easier said than done, but when you do, you’re given a special sense of accomplishment. The only way to conquer your fears is to look them in the face and refuse to back down.
Schawbel, Dan. “Mel Robbins: It Only Takes Five Seconds To Improve Your Career.” Forbes. 2017.
- Chick, N. (2013). Metacognition. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved [6.21.22] from
- Good Therapy. “Prefrontal Cortex.” 2019.
- Cohen, Jennifer. “Motivation Is A Muscle: The 7 Best Ways To Substantially Increase Your Productivity.” 2013
- Morin, Amy. “What to Do When You Have No Motivation.” Very Well Mind. 2022.
- Van De Walle, Gavin. “11 Vitamins and Supplements That Boost Energy.” Healthline. 2018.