The three-second rule

No, this is isn’t about how long a piece of food that you dropped can stay on the ground before you shouldn’t put it in your mouth anymore.

For several years, I dealt with a lot of stress. In the process, I picked up or came up with quite a few techniques to reduce or lower my stress level.

One thing that consistently stressed me out was making decisions: what to eat, where to go, whether to stay, whether it would be appropriate to say something—and so on and so forth.

These things stressed me out because I was scared—scared of making the wrong choice. And the longer I considered my options, the more scared I became. 

So if you:

  • Have a tendency to overthink
  • Frequently suffer from indecision
  • Find lots of day-to-day situations scary
  • Experience a lot of stress daily

Then try out this rule.

The three-second rule: When you are considering whether to do something scary, you must decide in the first three seconds from the moment you start considering it.

See a cute guy and want to say hi? Do it within the first three seconds after you see him. If not, too late—you don’t “get to” approach anymore.

At a party and you don’t know the person you sit down next to? Either introduce yourself within the first three seconds, or don’t.

Found an article online and not sure whether to post it on social media (because you worry it might offend people, or because people might disagree with you or with the article)? Post it in the first three seconds, or don’t.

The three-second rule works because you always win.

Either you give yourself permission to do the scary thing quickly, so you only experience the fear for a few seconds (until you do the thing). And then you did the scary thing!

Or you don’t do the thing, but you give yourself permission not to reconsider because the three seconds have passed, so the stressful moment passes quickly.

Next time you find yourself considering whether to do something scary, decide in the first three seconds.


— Peter

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