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How to “Just Do It”: The 5 Minute Rule

5 Minutes

It’s mid January – how are you feeling about your first few weeks of this New Year? Have you made any changes so far that you’re feeling excited about? Or are you well into the phase of accepting that change is hard and have given up?

It’s ok if you may have given up already on the idea of a resolution. It’s not hard for this overwhelming list of ‘to do’s’ and obligations to pile up on us again. Have you exercised as much as you wanted do? Eaten as well as you said you would? Drank more water?  Maybe you have made changes and are feeling positive that you can make them stick. Regardless of where you are, it’s never too late to do more, and to be more.

The trick is to keep it simple. Don’t over think it. Remember that famous tag line, you know that one, the one that sums it all up in three simple words? That’s right, Just Do It. Those are powerful words for a reason.

I’m often reminded of this when I’m trying to nag my eight-year-old into bed. The resistance put up to not do what ought to be done (I borrowed that phrase from a great book I just read) is often more of an energy drain than the act of getting ready itself. The same goes for getting outside for some fresh air and exercise, be it walking, running, hiking, cycling, or otherwise. Sometimes the thoughts we have of changing, lacing up those shoes, and heading out the door are more of a drain than if we simply just went and did them.

As someone who knows the art of procrastination like no other, it’s easy to relate to the overwhelming weight of undone tasks. It is also all too easy to choose to do just those things we enjoy doing, versus the things we know we ought to do. I’ve often used a great trick from a friend of mine that can get me into just about any activity (yes, including washing the floor on my hands & knees) – she calls it the 5 minute rule.

just do it

Once you decide to do something but could be feeling you ‘don’t have the time’, or ‘aren’t in the mood’, tell yourself you’ll do it for just 5 minutes. Tell yourself that after just 5 minutes you can stop, and go back to whatever feels like it is more important than what you want to be doing, but aren’t. I’ve yet to see this method fail, particularly when it comes to getting outdoors, or writing that letter to your mom or best friend you’ve been putting off for weeks.

Just starting is one of the most powerful things you can do to make change happen. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Goethe, and it goes, “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” I reference this quote almost daily in my life, and often in my blog.

So as tough as starting might be (and if your list is long, it could be scary), don’t over think it. You won’t do everything over night, but you might do one thing that could start a whole new approach to tackling all those things you’ve been putting off. By not allowing them to keep piling up, you won’t be wasting all that productive energy feeling buried under a list of undone projects, and feeling bad about another day of not getting them done.

Regardless of what those might be, try the 5 minute rule, and the next time you think of what ought to be done and feel resistance, recognize that resistance as your cue – to just do it. It is usually the things we resist the most that are things that make us feel the best once accomplished, like my eight year old getting a good night’s sleep, or getting that 30 minutes of fresh air a day that our bodies crave.

So get outside, get in the kitchen, or get into the yoga room and give yourself 5 minutes. Just do it. Because no matter how busy we get, we’ve all got 5 minutes to initiate and cultivate positive change in our lives. It literally is the very least we can do.

Photo Credit: Shira McDermott

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