The Five By Five Rule

what is the 5 by 5 rule

What is the five by five rule?

The five by five rule means you shouldn’t spend more than five minutes worrying about something that won’t matter in five years.

A few months ago I found this quote.  Simply stated; quit worrying about the little things.  At first, I thought, what a great quote, but then I started to actually use it.

We just moved into a fixer-upper home from the 1950s.  I am so happy and excited that we were able to get this home.  When we finally moved in we found out that there were a ton of problems that we were not expecting.  It was easy to make every problem seem like the end of the world.  The more we discussed the problems the bigger they seemed.

Then I came across this quote.  Every new problem I encountered I asked myself, is this going to matter in five years?

It is really funny how little a problem becomes when you think that far into the future.


Imagine the Past

Flip the quote around and try to remember something small that really really bothered you five years ago. 

I can’t remember even one little thing that bothered me back then.  My son was born five years ago, I can remember that.

Of course, there will be bigger problems and tragedies that happen that we can’t forget in five minutes time, but this rule is for the little things.


Examples of the 5 by 5 Rule

In the last three months, we had both of our cars break down.  In the end, both of our cars had to be replaced. 

This was expensive and extremely inconvenient, but I was able to use this rule over and over. 

Instead of letting the last three months depress me, I was able to put it into perspective.  I actually walked places too!

When I was driving home a week ago someone honked at me even though what happened wasn’t my fault.  This is an occurrence that use to get stuck in my head.  I would replay the scenario over and over. 

Now I just tell myself the rule and let it go

Someone makes a rude comment online to you.  First off delete it!  No one deserves that but then think of the rule. 

Believe me, you are not going to remember that comment in five years.


Negativity and Power

Don’t give negativity any power.  Every time a negative situation comes up I have decided per this rule that I am not giving it any power. 

Instead of getting emotionally wrapped up in the negativity, I am trying to approach it in a pragmatic way.

I guess I am dealing with negative situations as if they are someone else’s problem. 

Have you ever had a friend tell you all their problems and to you, the solution seemed so straightforward and clear?  Well, I am treating negative situations as if they aren’t actually my problem.

My car broke down.  Instead of crying and complaining, we got it fixed and still had a fun weekend. 

When the second car broke down, I went without a car for a week.

That week turned out fine.  Instead of getting angry and upset, I spent more time at home in the backyard and I made the most of my time doing stuff around the house.


5 by 5 Rule


5×5 Rule & Intentional Living

This rule works perfectly with intentional living.  I am using the rule to intentionally choose to not worry about the small stuff. 

I talk to friends and family that get so angry about the government.

They watch the news and let it ruin their day.  My grandpa used to watch the news and tell us the world was over! 

Yes, there are a lot of problems in the world, but letting them ruin your day isn’t going to fix them. 

By using the five-by-five rule I am intentionally letting the little negative things that happen go within 5 minutes and I am moving on.


5×5 Rule Conclusion

This five-by-five rule is very easy to implement and the more I use it the easier it gets. 

It works especially great with my kids.  When they are acting crazy I simply pause and say in five years I will probably miss this!

Have you ever used the five-by-five rule? 


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7 thoughts on “The Five By Five Rule”

  1. Laura

    cool things here…hi Shannon…Laura here glad to find amazing things and amazing people…i ask myself maybe you are ready for more in life

  2. syeda hameeda

    what matters now and what would matter in next five years is the most important thing to figure out and let go the rest if it isn’t worth it. thanks for sharing this rule !

  3. Judith

    Awesome rule! I am going for it!

  4. I’ve heard this quote before and I absolutely love it! Your article was so sweet ~ especially about the birth of your son.

    I do have to say someone said something to me so incredibly hurtful… almost life-changing (to the point where we ended up leaving the church in the end)
    and I still remember it.
    That was over 5 years ago.

    In the scope of things, is it worth remembering? Probably not. But some things just stick with you – the lows, the verbal kicks and blows, the setbacks. everything.

  5. Déjà

    This was extremely eye opening for me. Thank you! I’m opting for the 5 by 5 lifestyle 🙂

  6. Mikey

    Another way to turn the 5×5 rule into something productive is not to dismiss it and become complacent, but to actively find ways to start working on it. Too much so, I have found with people today, is they don’t give you the space to actually put into practice what you can do to improve instead of just kicking you back down.

    I’m not sure how on topic it all is, but in my Christian walk over the past several years is that I have gotten the perspective that it is my turn to start doing the forgiving. People fuck up, it’s how things go. If the situation can be boiled down to having a lack of mallice, let it go – in time, you can become amazed at how people can grow and change.

    A trio of ideas I wish I knew of earlier: backwards law, kaizen, and now this.

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