The 5 Second Rule

Kelly Otterson, LPC, is IOME's newest trained supporter and full time employee!! We are so excited for her to join the IOME team!

Kelly is originally from Savannah, GA but moved to Colorado in 2015. She has been in the mental health field for 9 years and has a variety of experience. Kelly specializes in trauma, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem/body image. Kelly has a particular passion in utilizing a holistic approach when working with clients to promote overall health and wellness. Kelly wanted to share a profound, research-backed way to accomplish your goals: 


"Are you someone who struggles with procrastination, taking action, or just simply getting something done when you really don’t feel like doing it? I can tell you that I have struggled with all of the above. I had developed a pretty impressive ability to talk myself out of just about anything. While this allowed me short term relief, I eventually and always found myself in a time-crunch, stressed and regretting that I didn’t start sooner. However, I have learned a great way to break this habit and be more productive (and less stressed!) while working towards my goals, whatever they may be. 

According to psychologists, the ‘Golden Rule of Habits’ says, to change a bad habit, you must replace it with a different habit. Every habit has three parts: cue, routine, and reward. When you silently countdown from five (cue), take a small positive action (routine), and get a pleasurable feeling of control (reward), you’ve created a new habit loop.

Thus, let me introduce you to the habit-breaking concept from Mel Robbins’ book, “The 5 Second Rule”. To use this tool, the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must count down 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or implement an action towards that goal or your brain will stop you. That’s right, it only takes your brain 5 seconds to move on from an idea! I chose to share this particular concept with you because this tool can be used for any goals (mind, body, and soul), in any place, at any time. I should note that while this technique is simple, it isn’t always easy! It will take practice and consistency, but it also only takes 5 seconds so it’s worth a try right?

How to use the rule:

  • Using the Rule is simple. Whenever you feel an instinct to act on a goal or commitment, or the moment you feel yourself hesitate on doing something you know you should do, use the Rule.
  • Start by counting backward to yourself: 5-4-3-2-1. The counting will help you focus on the goal or commitment and distract you from the worries, thoughts, and fears in your mind. As soon as you reach “1,” move. That’s it.
  • Physical movement is the most important part of the Rule because when you move, your physiology changes and your mind follows.

The 5 Second Rule is a research-backed metacognition tool that creates immediate and lasting behavior change. Metacognition, by the way, is just a fancy word for any technique that allows you to beat your brain in order to accomplish your greater goals. One thing most of us don’t realize is that patterns of thinking like worrying, self-doubt, and fear are all just habits—and you repeat these thought patterns without even realizing it. As you use the rule over time, you’ll experience a shift inside yourself that is much deeper and that impacts confidence and inner strength. When you silently count down from five, your brain knows something needs to happen after one; it’s the universal cue to act. And when you take a deliberate action immediately after counting down you generate the joy of feeling in control.

That’s the 5 Second Rule in a nutshell! I hope you find value using this tool and can use it to feel more confident and ready to work towards your goals. If you have any questions for me or would like to reach out to schedule a session, you can email me at [email protected].

I am so excited and grateful to be joining the IOME community and getting to be a part of your journey! :)"


We are so thankful to have Kelly be a part of the IOME team. If you would like to learn more from Kelly, just reach out! She would be a great support for you in your self care and therapeutic goals!


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