Making better choices can happen as quickly as five seconds. Joan recently had the opportunity to speak with Mel Robbins, the creator of the Five Second Rule and author of The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage.

Q. What is the 5 second rule?

Joan: According to Mel, we live our lives inside a gap between what’s happening to us and our reaction to it and that gap is about five seconds long. She believes that by implementing her five second rule, which is simply counting back from five to one and then taking action, we can transform every aspect of our life. The premise is that by counting through the five seconds, in which we usually begin to think and allow excuses to come in, we can close the gap, be in control, and override bad patterns in our mind. She says this enables us to take action and to create positive new habits.

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Q. What happens when we change for the better and the people around us resist the change? How do you get past that?

Joan: In my experience, people who are whole, self-confident and happy with themselves would support positive change in your life. They would want you to succeed and grow. It’s usually the people who are not happy with the direction of their own life that feel the need to put or hold another down. Happy people build others up; they don’t tear them down. They’re not jealous about your success, they celebrate it!

When I had lost my self esteem and self confidence and desperately needed to reclaim my identity, it was someone that was very close to me that mocked my dreams and put me down. Initially, it devastated me because I believed his words. However, as I got stronger and wiser, I realized that the comments directed at me actually had very little to do with me. They arose from that person’s need to keep me small so we would be compatible. For selfish reasons, he didn’t want me to grow. When I began to believe in myself, his words meant less and less to me and now they don’t hold any meaning for me.

The way to get past it is to ignore it. It’s that simple. Don’t give life to negativity from another person. Know who you are, believe in yourself! As you grow into your own and gain confidence, those words will have no impact on you. It’s your choice!

Q. What if the change you need in your life stems from unhappiness with your job, or a toxic partner and the change pushes you into a direction that scares you, albeit necessary?

Joan: Change is scary, there is no doubt about it. You spend so much time trying to keep things the same, where you are comfortable. But, the one truth that can be said about life is that change is inevitable. Parents will die, children will grow up and move out, companies will go out of business, spouses will cheat. Holding on to things that keep you stuck or unhappy is a waste of this precious life you’re given.

The fear of the unknown, stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a change, keeps most of us stuck in place. But, without moving away from the ordinary, you’ll never experience the extraordinary.

No one who has achieved greatness or lived life to its fullest played it safe. Sometimes you have to just go for it. Close your eyes and count – five, four, three, two, one, and then take action. Get out of your head. Eliminate the gap where the negative thoughts and excuses come in and create new habits and patterns!

Q. Why do we make excuses to change our lives, even if it's better for us?

Joan: We make excuses and don’t take action because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of the unknown. We tell ourselves: “I’ll stay in this crappy job because at least I have a paycheck and security,” or “I’ll stay with my husband because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone – he’s better than nothing,” or “This marriage gives me financial security,” and the list of reasons goes on.

Yes, the unknown is scary, and yes, a setback may occur, but it is also the place where wonderful, amazing things happen. Just think of the possibilities. You could get the job of your dreams with a higher salary. You might meet someone better suited for you who makes you happy. You may embark on a new journey with tremendous financial rewards. You’ll never know by playing it safe and staying stuck!

Q. Do you think some people don't want to change because they would rather be unhappy?

Joan: I don’t think that it’s a matter of wanting to be unhappy, I believe they are stuck because they feel safe with what they know. They get used to their unhappiness and it becomes as natural to them as breathing. It takes work to step out of that role, eliminate or move through the fear that holds one back, and take action. Mel Robbins shared with me about a time in her life when she was depressed, in financial crisis, drinking too much, and found it difficult to get out of bed each morning. That was when she created the five second rule; she knew something needed to change. It is precisely in the time when we are unhappy and stuck that it is most important to take action. As Mel would say, five…four…three…two…one…go!

Listen to my interview with Mel Robbins and learn more about how the Five Second Rule can transform your life: