Summary and book review of “Change Your Life In Seven Days”: How would you feel if you woke up one morning to find your life had become exactly how you want it to be? Paul McKenna explain all about his life change in this book.
By Paul McKenna, 2004, 208 pages.
Note: Sylvie from the Jobs Avec Vue blog wrote this guest column. This is how she introduces herself:
My greatest wish is to create my own job on the Internet and become completely free to live and work absolutely anywhere.
This is my life story. My life gradually takes me further and further off the beaten path. You can follow my journey in my blog. I relay my experiences, results, and frustrations. In short, I describe anything that can help you if you undertake the same adventure.
Change your life in 7 days, pretty eye-catching title, no?
Yet, “Change Your Life In Seven Days” led me to define EXACTLY what I want to do with my life. This book pushed me to create my web business.
Book review and summary of “Change your life in seven days”
Often the most significant changes come from alterations to our perception, rather than to the world around us. In the blink of an eye, we can change the way we perceive the world.
The author, Paul McKenna, inspires us to think about what we really want and challenges us to ask ourselves the right questions. He helps us discover what we really want to do with our lives.
He begins by asking this question:
How would you feel if you woke up one morning to find that your life had become exactly how you want it to be?
- How would you know that the miracle had happened?
- What would you see?
- What would you hear?
- How would you feel deep inside yourself?
- What changes would occur in your career?
- In your relationships?
- In your finances?
- And in your health?
The person you will be in 10 years time is the result of the actions you take now. Therefore, if you continue to do what you have always done, you will simply remain the same!
The author invites us to take control of the areas of our lives that have direct influence over. It is useless to worry about things we cannot control.
In “Change Your Life In Seven Days” book, he asks us to respond to a series of questions and to do a number of exercises every day for 7 days. Using the author’s process, we can take responsibility for our lives.
1st Day: Who are you really?
Outlining his observations with a bit of psychology and history, the author reminds us that our behavior is the direct result of the person we think we are. In other words, we behave according to the image we have of ourselves.
It is this image of ourselves that dictates how we behave and what drives us. We act in accordance with the type of person that we think we are!
If we waste too much time and energy hiding a negative image of ourselves from the world, we will not live the life of our dreams.
We can summarise this concept as follows: “Our truest self is like a shiny diamond. As life gets us down, the diamond can get cloudy, which masks its true shininess. So, if we cover the diamond with a concealer like nail polish, we try to appear more attractive to the rest of the world. However, if we were to polish the diamond and remove the cloudiness, our true diamond nature would reveal itself to those around us. Therefore, we would no longer need the nail polish!
Learn to know yourself then reprogram your self-image for success.
Initially, the author asks us a series of questions in order to get to know ourselves. We must unmask what we claim to be and discover the negative, paralyzing image of ourselves. Then, we will know who we really are and understand our truest, perfect self.
- Who are you when no one is watching?
- If you felt perfectly secure, what would you do differently?
- Who would you be if you lived without fear?
Finally, Paul McKenna encourages us to become ourselves through imitation. We can achieve this through visualisation and imitation of gestures, words, and behavior of our “perfect self“.
It is through this imitation of the perfect person that we will make the necessary changes to our day-to-day behavior.
Note from Sylvie: The psychological aspects encountered during this first day may seem too abstract. However, the exercises and questions the author suggests throughout the book are very real and relevant. I intentionally excluded these numerous exercises in this book summary. It seemed more important to initially understand the thought processes that led the author to create these practical exercises.
2nd Day: The brain’s user-manual
Learn to control your emotions!
At first, Paul McKenna reminds us what an emotional state is (love, anger, fear, confidence, apathy, curiosity…). Then, he explains that it is not influenced by external stimuli, but by internal processes. These processes are very quick, but they can be explained by our physiology and our internal representations.
By using our body and physiology differently (posture, breathing, muscle relaxation), we can influence our state of mind, resulting in different thoughts and feelings.
He demonstrates how we can take control of our emotions at any time. By learning to change the images and thoughts we create mentally, we take control of our lives. This way, we will learn to lessen unpleasant or stressful experiences and to intensify positive or useful ones. Athletes undergo both strenuous mental training as well as rigorous physical training to ensure peak mind and body fitness for competitions. With enough practice, we can also influence our state of mind at the optimal moment. We can then access a set of tools and resources for situations that require the best of ourselves.
The author shows us how we can create instant confidence in ourselves. Better yet, thanks to Pavlov’s reflexes, we can create a confidence switch. This will allow us to trigger this feeling of confidence instantly when we need it.
However, we have to practice and repeat these visualisation exercises very regularly for them to become effective!
3rd Day: The power of a positive perspective
Paul McKenna shows us how our beliefs can limit us and how to ensure they don’t trap us.
How we perceive life primarily affects our life experience. We feel and behave differently based on the meaning we give to situations or events. This is determined by our past experiences. When we think a situation is bad, this is usually because we compare it to another situation that we think is better.
However, choosing how we perceive things provides us with more options, and thus more flexibility. More flexibility increases our ability to influence the results of all situations.
The art of re-evaluating the world positively does not mean ignoring problems. It means we have enough flexibility to have our point of view work for us and not against us.
How do we re-evaluate what is going on in our lives with this positive perspective?
Ask yourself the right questions!
Questions that will direct our attention to different solutions, and not questions with a negative connotation!
Take the question: “Why can’t I do that?” This question assumes that we cannot do the task at hand! In order to understand the question, our mind will search for all the reasons why we cannot perform the task.
Rather, if we ask ourselves: “How can I do it more easily?” This question assumes that we can do it, there are many ways to do it, and it can be done easily. These assumptions act as a compass, and our mind searches for ways to make things work.
Positive questions challenge our brains to seek more information. It puts us in a different, more open mind-set.
Paul McKenna, inspired by the work of Katie Byron, explains that these kinds of questions can also be applied to our relationships. Instead of thinking that people act only selfishly or to satisfy their needs, he suggests we try to understand the positive intention behind their behaviour. Thus, we can transform potential conflicts with an open mind to the point of view of others.
Seven key perspectives for success
The author recently had the opportunity to study and work with people considered to be geniuses or to be extraordinary in some way. He discovered what he calls the seven key perspectives for success, all common amongst these people.
- You are the expert on yourself: It is a simple observation that nobody knows you better than yourself.
- You are not broken, there is nothing to “fix”: Dysfunctional behaviour comes from a positive intention which once had its place but is no longer relevant.
- All the tools are already process by you for succeed: A person who already lives their genius life learned to access their tools at the right time. That is the only difference between them and you. Change Your Life In Seven Days – helps you to acquire these tools!
- You can accomplish everything as long as you divide the task into small enough chunks: If you train your brain to divide huge tasks into simple and achievable steps, these seemingly insurmountable tasks become possible.
- If what you do does not work, do something else: We often hear people say about failure: “But I have always done it like that!” or “I am not that kind of person”. The truth is, what seems normal to us is the product of how we are programmed rather than our potential. If you want to produce different results in your life, you will have to step out of your comfort zone and do something different.
- Failure does not exist, only experiences exist: In reality, successful people admit that success manifests itself when you are done with failure. They make more mistakes than people who do not succeed. Every mistake or failure is a hidden opportunity to learn.
- You are now creating your future: Whatever your past difficulties, every moment of every day gives you the opportunity to make choices and create new results.
4th Day: Build your dreams
During this 4th day, the author proposes to establish a list of objectives. But “we will put these objectives in a proper order as a means to a better life”.
That, in my opinion, is the strength of “Change Your Life In Seven Days”. In this chapter we will define life objectives to achieve a better life and the life we have always dreamed of!
There are three essential things you need to do to get a great life:
- A clear direction (your dream)
- A well-aligned compass (your values)
- Important steps to take on the way to your ultimate destination (your objectives)
So what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Through a series of questions and exercises the author will show us how to achieve our big dream. It will also show us why it is so important to take our values into account. Then we will transform this big dream into life objectives!
However, he stresses that, “knowing your values is excellent because happiness comes from living your values every day, regardless of whether the goals you have set for yourself seem distant or close”.
The most important things in the world: Make a list of them
What would you do if the world were going to end in a week?
This list will allow us to determine our 5 main values, beyond material things. These 5 things are what give meaning to our lives!
Brainstorming – Shake up your thoughts!
With our 5 core values in mind, we will make a list of everything we have always wanted to have… The things we wanted, the things we want now, and the things we will want in the future. We must make this list with the strong intention of obtaining them, without worrying about whether it is likely or how we will achieve it!
The big dream
We alone know what we really want from life, what makes us happy, what is our reason for living… If we answer these questions and summarise our answers, we will clearly define our big dream.
What would you like to do to the point that you would pay to do it?
What are you very passionate about?
Your choose to do if you had unlimited resources?
If success were guaranteed, what would you do?
What would you like to see happen?
What would you like to learn?
The skills would you like to master?
How much money would you like to earn?
What character traits would you like to develop?
What mark would you like to leave on the world?
- We must be given the opportunity to feel a sense of constant progress in the pursuit of our objectives… We must be looking for the slightest sign of progress and seize any evidence we can find that we are on the right track.
- What will you see when your dream comes true?
- What will you hear
- We need to ask ourselves the following questions to ensure that living our dream will benefit us and not harm others.
- When I think about this dream, is it clear or confusing?
- Do I feel free or restricted by my feelings?
- Is it my dream or someone else’s?
- What would be gained by not living this dream?
Establish your objectives on the road to success
By working backwards from the time our dream is made a reality, we will identify the important steps that we have to take along the way. These will be our objectives, the decisive events that will navigate the way to the lifestyle that we wish to attain.
Activate your resources
- Firstly, we have to make a list of the resources we already have at our disposal
- Our skills, qualities, gifts and talents
- People around us
- The money and credit at our disposal
- Our assets
And put it all together to ACT!
By putting all this together, we will know which direction to go in. We will have defined our big dream and we will know when that has become reality.
We will have identified all the important milestones, which we will have to reach and exceed. Finally, we need to set timeframes for this big dream in order to plan the various steps. More importantly, now that we know how to do it, we just have to ACT!
5th day: A solid foundation
The sub-title of this chapter is: “A healthy mind in a healthy body”.
Based on some medical studies, the author tells us: “Inappropriate response to stress is the main cause of poor health.”
He reminds us that if a few thousand years ago, stress allowed the human species to survive by alerting us to escape dangers, nowadays stress is caused from other unexpected sources that don’t trigger this reaction. As a result, the body and mind have to continually adapt to relentless stress and learn to cope with it. Rather than avoiding stress, Paul McKenna believes that the opposite is true, that in order to cope with the onset of stress, we must learn to cope with our anxiety.
He regrets that the main studies conducted on stress generally focus on only two aspects: reducing exposure to stress and adapting our response to it in a positive way (relaxation and prescribed drugs etc.)
In a comparison with marathon runners, the author explains that the best way to improve our ability to resist stress is to counterbalance these moments of stress-related scenarios with quality recovery times.
Here are 5 techniques he puts forward, in order to enhance our resistance to stress:
The costs of a recharge:
When we start to dream, the body effectively tells us to relax. It’s telling us to recharge our batteries, to slow down and rebuild our strength, which can be done anywhere, even at work.
Physical exercise is essential:
Physical exercise has been shown to significantly reduce depression.
According to the author, our body is perfectly capable of identifying what it needs. It encourages us to listen to and consider the subtle sensations in our body after meals. He invites us to take a test: Eat some food that we love and take note of our sensations: If we are clear-minded and upbeat, it means that this food provides us with a lot of energy. If not, it’s the wrong food!
The power of laughter:
When we smile, we release serotonin, also known as the “chemical substance of happiness”, into the brain.
So it is so important to have a sense of humor!
As a result of this, the author teaches us how to use a Taoist technique dating back 2,500 years: The inner smile technique!
Believe in your own health:
Citing the Placebo effect, the author demonstrates that trusting in what we do is one of the most powerful tools to achieve success. Similarly, we should be mindful that our immune system is working to heal and protect us.
Using visualization techniques, he closes this chapter and encourages us to visualize ourselves with a healthy mind and a healthy body.
6th day: Earning money
True wealth is good health and real happiness. It is about having good friends and family with whom you laugh and share personal and fun times, basically people who inspire and intrigue you. The true benefit is to feel happy as much as possible. It is the feeling of knowing that you add something positive to the world and that your life is worth living… But part of this will include having money.
According to Paul McKenna, money is linked to a sense of trust, because the more we trust ourselves and/or our products or services, the more we can charge for them. And if trust is a condition, then we already have everything we need to earn all the money we’ve always dreamed of.
He explains that by “the law of reversed effort” what we resist, persists, and that some people have well-established beliefs that keep them in poverty, these unconscious beliefs holding them back.
On the other hand, “the Law of Attraction” means that when we concentrate on a regular basis, we achieve more.
As a result, those who focus on the positives in their lives are considered lucky, those who focus on the good things in their lives will get more.
To do this, we need to create an awareness of wealth: To imagine ourselves very rich!
The author shows us the idea of his wealth album, which he created for himself: a collection of images of the objectives that he wanted to achieve, the places he wanted to visit, and the people he wanted to meet. It’s up to us to do likewise!
Finally, he insists that it is imperative, in order to become rich, to separate our ability to create money from thinking about how to do it.
Equating your time to how much money you’ll earn isn’t the right way to do it (which is why you will never find a millionaire who works by the hour!)
On the other hand, our ability to make money is intrinsically linked to being able to offer a better service and product to customers.
Money is one of the rewards you can expect when you provide value to others.
Here are 4 crucial points to gain more money by adding additional value:
- Stand out: The more distinct you are, the more you will get in return.
- Reach: The more people who value your product, the more money you will make.
- The impact: The more you can enhance customer’s lives, the more you can earn in return.
- Perception: Only perceived value can be exchanged for tangible money. Working non-stop in anonymity does not make you rich.
Finally, it’s essential to keep an eye on your portfolio and be able to manage your own money properly!
Paul McKenna ends this chapter by sharing his 10 keys to the secrets to success:
- Take hold of your own financial situation immediately
- Save first, then only spend what you can really afford
- Study rich people
- Build up your financial nest
- The 80/20 rule
- Be enthusiastic about life every day
- Get paid what you are worth
- Practice the “Change your life in 7 days” techniques regularly
- Celebrate your life by starting today!
- Keeping going forwards
To conclude, the author gives a quote, which, to me, is very relevant. It is attributed to Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in the world can replace persistence. Not talent: nothing is more common than unsuccessful talented people. Not genius: the unrecognised genius is almost a proverb. Nor education: the world is full of educated wrecks; only persistence and determination are omnipotent.”
7th day: Happy for the rest of life
Your happiness is not a product, it is a physical and mental state.
The author states that happiness is above all a CHOICE!
Many people put obstacles in the way of their happiness, believe that there are certain situations where one cannot (or can no longer) allow oneself to be happy, for example, after the death of a loved one.
Abraham Lincoln said: “Most people are as happy as they decide to be.”
It’s each person’s choice to be happy or not!
Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihali, who has spent more than 30 years studying happiness, has pinpointed 8 characteristics that are inextricably linked to the feelings of joy, happiness, and satisfaction. Here is the list of these 8 catalysts to happiness:
- Clear goals: The ability to turn any task into an enjoyable experience. We can decide to make a boring task fun; complete the most mundane tasks with energy and enthusiasm as if they are the most important things in the world.
- Instant feedback: Our brain must be constantly aware that it is on the right path, on the way to our goal, or not!
- The ability to focus on the current task
- The likelihood of success: Be confident that we can accomplish the project or tasks that we set ourselves.
- Total engagement: Doing things for the pleasure of doing them, rather than for the results that they will bring us.
- The loss of self-awareness: When we are totally absorbed in an experience that we love, then what we do and experience become much more rewarding than others may think.
- A feeling of control: A sense of control: By taking control of the simplest aspects of our environment (where we sit, how we arrange our desk…) we increase the probability of experiencing happiness in our daily lives.
- An altered perception of time: Here is a quote from Albert Einstein: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like hours. Sit down for an hour with a pretty girl and it seems like minutes.” Choose to do things that make time fly!
But above all, even more powerful than the 8 previous traits, we know the feeling of when something feels completely right, when there is a balance between our perception of the challenge we face, and our ability to meet it. In other words, when we feel up to the challenges that we face.
And the keyword to that is PERCEPTION!
In this way, you can change fear into a positive experience. Here are two simple techniques that can alter the onset of panic or helplessness.
- Lower our ambitions, focus on a target that we can reach. When we have the confidence in our abilities, push our limits a little further, in order to attain the original goals that we set out for!
- Focus on past successes: When we focus on what works, our confidence in what we can do increases, and at the same time, we improve the chance to get the perfect result.
And finally, perhaps the most useful advice that Paul McKenna gives us here is to keep that happiness just below the surface: A feeling that we keep in the back of our mind, that life is good, that our unconscious does everything it can to help us and that problems can be solved with a positive and sound result.
To quote Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihali’s conclusion: “Every day the happy person does something difficult“, Paul McKenna ends this chapter by making a distinction between pleasure and satisfaction:
Pleasure gives the body pleasant sensations; satisfaction gratifies the soul.
Paul McKenna finishes the book with a daily exercise to train for success. He suggests we use this routine, which takes 15 minutes over the first few days, then soon less than 5 minutes, to gradually develop positive suggestions in our minds, in order to increase our energy and motivation. Then we can become happier, stronger, more creative and have a better life.
Book critique of “Change Your Life In Seven Days”
At first glance, “Change Your Life In Seven Days” may seem far too abstract and it may not be for everyone. Anyone, more so if they are a little reluctant to any idea of visualization, will find it very difficult to believe the benefits of the numerous exercises that the author sets out. People who are rather set in their ways may not want to discover it, as it’s not a book to read, it’s, above all, a book to practice!
Yet these exercises, if taken seriously, really have the potential to transform you. They will gradually enable you to see your life in a new light. They will give you the opportunity to change the course of your life, through different experiences and allow you to finally succeed in defining what you really want to achieve in life. Rather than just fleeting goals, “Change Your Life In Seven Days” will allow you to really look into your soul and explore your own inner self.
Strong Points of Change Your Life In Seven Days:
- Extremely practical and precise exercises!
- A very in-depth study that encourages you to seek the inner answers; responses that are very personal to you!
- A pleasant style and, in spite of its abstract nature, quite easy to read.
- Real-life stories or anecdotes, which are an excellent illustration of the more complex passages.
- Not just a book that you read and forget about, it will stay on your bedside table for years! You will read and reread it, over the years, to try to achieve your life goals.
Weak Points of Change Your Life In Seven Days:
- This book isn’t for everyone. You have to believe in the power of self-suggestion and visualization to be prepared to do these exercises. So, although the results can relate to everyone, my opinion is that only a target audience that already believes in self-help will be willing to practice them in order to learn from them.
- Changing your life in 7 days is impossible… rather I would have called it “Changing your life in 7 years”. In my opinion, this is done little by little over the years, at a time when certain bits are relevant and interesting, so you delve into the relevant part of the book and practice that exercise. I don’t think it’s possible, or necessary, to make all of these changes in such a short time. Personally, it took time for me to put all these ideas together, especially as they were so new to me.
My rating :
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