50 pages 1 hour read

Mel Robbins

The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2017

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Summary and Study Guide


The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence With Everyday Courage is American motivational speaker Melanie Robbins’s second book on self-help (2017). Its content is largely derived from Robbins’s immensely successful 2011 TEDx Talk entitled “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” which has since been viewed over 31 million times online. At the lowest point of her life, Robbins was dealing with financial debt and battling stress and anxiety to the point where she found it difficult to accomplish basic daily tasks. However, she found a simple way to get out of her rut and regain control of her own actions: She refers to this method as the #5SecondRule, and it is the main topic of the book. Robbins describes how she came up with the idea, offers scientific explanations for why the rule works, and uses numerous anecdotal evidence from her audience to explore the various applications and benefits of using the #5SecondRule.

The 5 Second Rule has sold over 200 million copies since its first printing and has been translated into over 30 languages. It was featured as #1 on Audible’s Nonfiction Book of the Year and Amazon’s 6th Most Read Book of the Year in 2017. Purchasing the book gives readers access to a 31-session course on Robbins’s website, cheat sheet quote cards, a reading guide, and a community group where readers can share their progress with others.


The 5 Second Rule is separated into five parts, with a total of 17 chapters. Every chapter opens and ends with a motivational quote, none of which have been repeated in this guide. All chapters also contain multiple social media posts of people who have been using the #5SecondRule to change their lives; only those that are directly relevant to the overarching argument of the chapter have been summarized in this guide.

Part 1 is comprised of the first four chapters and sets the foundation for the rest of the book. Its main purpose is to define the #5SecondRule and explain how Robbins discovered it, how to apply it, and why it works.

Part 2 includes Chapters 5 to 8. It encourages readers to start using the Rule immediately. It argues that using the Rule allows people to gather courage in the face of uncertain situations. Over time, it helps build confidence and empowers users. In doing so, the Rule improves people’s sense of control, which ultimately can contribute to increasing their happiness and success.

Part 3 covers Chapters 9 to 11. Each, respectively, provides examples of how the #5SecondRule can help people improve their health, increase their productivity, and beat procrastination. Part 3 aims to offer additional evidence in support of the #5SecondRule.

Part 4 shares the same aim as the previous section. It covers Chapters 12 to 14 and describes how the Rule can help people stop worrying, cure anxiety, and beat their fears in the long run. This section explores how unnecessary worry can cause anxiety and decrease both productivity and people’s overall happiness.

Part 5 is comprised of Chapters 15 to 17. It argues that the #5SecondRule can ultimately empower people by helping them build confidence, pursue their passions, and enrich their relationships. Robbins encourages readers to use the Rule in everyday life to build self-confidence; she believes this will ultimately help people lead a successful and fulfilling life.