Professional basketball player Lebron James throws some chalk dust into the air when it’s time to start a game.

Ludwig van Beethoven always began the day with coffee, which he prepared himself with great care—60 beans per cup.

Lady Gaga, upon waking in the morning, practices 5 minutes each day of self-directed love and gratitude through compassionate thoughts.

12-time Olympian medalist and competitive swimmer Ryan Lochte simply listens to music before he swims.

An exceptional student and Chemistry major I knew in college wore the same tie-dye shirt to every major exam.

According to Scientific American, "Rituals take an extraordinary array of shapes and forms.... People engage in rituals with the intention of achieving a wide set of desired outcomes, from reducing their anxiety to boosting their confidence, alleviating their grief to performing well in a competition—or even making it rain."

According to Scientific American, “Rituals take an extraordinary array of shapes and forms…. People engage in rituals with the intention of achieving a wide set of desired outcomes, from reducing their anxiety to boosting their confidence, alleviating their grief to performing well in a competition—or even making it rain.” Rituals can have a causal impact on people’s behavior and are surprisingly effective. A starting ritual, for example, prepares you to bridge the gap between one task and another. By adopting your own personal starting ritual, you more easily can defeat procrastination to start on a task that serves a goal.

“With this ritual, you are making a clear declaration: ‘I will do X, and then I will do Y.’ It’s both a habit and a rule–when that cup of coffee is finished, when that song ends, when the clock strikes 4, you begin the thing you need to begin. No debates, no exceptions,” writes Executive Coach Aaron Sugarman. Remember, a good personal starting ritual does not have to be intense, superstitious or overly involved. It can be something simple, fun and energizing that helps you follow your own instincts.

When reviewing others’ morning and productivity rituals online, you may feel intimidated or overwhelmed about starting your own. Waking up a full hour before your kids wake up to go to the gym and plan your day, practicing 30 minutes of meditation, running 10 miles or jotting down your dreams and goals in a journal may not neatly fit into the everyperson’s daily routine, at least not immediately. Finding quiet moments in which we can lead ourselves during any given day can prove quite challenging. Meanwhile, there are legions of product developers and programmers dedicated to “brain hacking,” or figuring out ways to hijack our minds to create new habits that keep us all addicted to the smart devices that live in our hands, pockets and purses.

Experts estimate that the mind thinks anywhere from 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day, so on average, that’s about 2,500-3,300 thoughts per hour. What portion of those, if acted upon, could result in a life-changing decision? A new product for your business? An uptick in self-confidence? What if there were a starting ritual that could help us hack our own brains to help us better honor our instincts and achieve our personal and professional goals? And what if it were as simple as counting 5-4-3-2-1?

Well, according to Mel Robbins, the creator of The 5 Second Rule and author of the book by the same name, there is such a starting ritual, and it truly is that simple. Simple, but not necessarily easy. Here’s her TEDx Talk on “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” which has been viewed nearly 7.5 million times.

Robbins calls her rule a form of metacognition that gives you immediate control over your thoughts and actions. Counting backwards requires focus and wakes up your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that helps you learn new positive behaviors. Improving our lives comes down to five-second decisions that change everything. “If you have an instinct to act on a goal,” she says, “you must physically move within 5 seconds, or your brain will kill the idea.”

If you have a goal of losing weight, (5-4-3-2-1) and set daily reminders on your phone to go to the gym or set up an initial consultation with a physical trainer.

If you have a goal of starting your own company, (5-4-3-2-1) and start a lean canvas.

If you have a goal of writing a book, (5-4-3-2-1) and start a working outline.

How to use The 5 Second Rule, invented by author, coach and motivational speaker Mel Robbins. Source: https://melrobbins.com/5-second-rule-everyday-courage/

Design your own personal starting ritual, or try The 5 Second Rule to transition from simply thinking about something to taking action that brings you closer to the reality you want, whether that’s getting out of bed before hitting the snooze button, introducing yourself to someone you’d like to meet or getting fit before the holidays.