Insights: You Can do Anything for Five Minutes

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five minutesEvery week I show up at my boot camp at 6 am. It is not only difficult to get there that early, but by the end of it, we are all struggling to keep going. However, without fail Jenny, one of the participants, will say “you can do anything for 5 minutes.”

In my mind I am often saying to myself “grrrr.” But, as much as I hate to admit it, she is right, and her attitude does help as I find myself saying the same statement, which in turn is replacing my “grrrr.” 

When she was not at class last week, one of the other participants took over her role, and what came out of her mouth but “you can do anything for five minutes.” It made me laugh.

So, two lessons here. 

First, when something is challenging or that you are dreading, if you can break it down and put a positive spin on it, it can make it easier.

I very much dislike going to the dentist, but I always remind myself that in an hour it will be over and my teeth will feel great. 

I also find getting things done first thing in the morning helps as you do not have to think about it all day; it does not leave any room for procrastination or the space for excuses, which also gives us an opportunity to back out. 

I so often hear people talk about how they plan to exercise at the end of the day but something always comes up. It is more difficult to let something get in the way in the morning (except sleep!). 

Second, it was interesting that when Jenny was not at the boot camp, someone else took on her role of motivating us. I do not believe Jenny realizes the influence she has had on us.

As Napoleon Hill said, Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.

Do you realize the power of your words and how much they influence people? More than you probably realize. But remember they do not only influence others but also yourself. 

What you need to know is your words come from your thoughts. The problem with this is about 90 percent of your thoughts are unconscious. Your unconscious is feed by your past experiences.

This can be scary! The more present we are with ourselves, the more aware of our thoughts, the less our past influences us, therefore the more we are able to direct our lives.   

I know part of the reason I like to hike is that it really brings me so present to everything around me from my body to how I feel, to my environment. Even though it is sometimes tough, I like that feeling. 

I am living intentionally. 

So often what we do in life is not intentional but rather, automatic.

Have you ever driven home from work and not remembered the drive home? Most of what we do in life we are doing from the unconscious part of the brain because it takes much less energy. However, we have the ability to slow down and pay attention and then make a decision of what we think, what we say and what actions we do. 

All these thoughts, words and actions are affecting you, your children, your partner, and those around you.

As Lao Tzu wrote, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

So Jenny, even though I might be “grrr-ing” under my breath, your words have influenced me. And yes, you can do anything for five minutes–if you choose to.


Dr. Shelly Zavala can be reached at or [email protected].

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