The Rule works because it is so simple. There are all kinds of tricky ways your brain kills your urge to act. Some of my most favorite researchers, professors, and thinkers have written bestsellers and delivered epic TED Talks detailing how our own minds betray us with a seemingly endless list of tricks including cognitive biases, the paradox of choice, the psychological immune system, and the spotlight effect.
What all these great researchers have taught me is that the moment you want to change, break a habit, or do something hard or scary, your brain goes to work to stop you. Basically, your mind tricks you into thinking things through. And the moment you get tricked into doing this, you’ll get trapped by your thoughts. Your mind has a million ways to talk you out of acting.
That’s the neurological reason why it’s so hard to change. As I mentioned in Chapter One, change requires you to do things that are uncertain, scary, or new. Your brain, by design, will not let you do such things. Your brain is afraid of things that feel uncertain, scary, or new, so it will do whatever it can to talk you out of doing those things. It is part of your hard-wiring, and this hesitation happens really fast. That is why you have to act even faster to beat it.
The Rule leverages and is an example of some powerful and proven principles in modern psychology: a bias toward action, internal locus of control, behavioral flexibility, the progress principle, starting rituals, the Golden Rule of Habits, authentic pride, deliberate action, “If-Then planning,” and activation energy. Throughout this book, you’ll learn more about these principles as we go into greater detail about how you can use the Rule in specific areas of your life.