Book review: ‘Change Your Life in 7 Days’

There are many personal finance books out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. So for the foreseeable future, I will be reviewing one PF-related book per month. My first review was of “All Your Worth” and my second review was of “Debt is Slavery.”

This month I'm reviewing “Change Your Life in 7 Days” by Paul McKenna, a self-help author and hypnotist. He's written books on quitting smoking, losing weight and more. Most of his books, like this one, are accompanied by DVDs/CDs to help induce a hypnotic state so that the lessons become part of your subconscious.

What does hypnotism have to do with money, you ask? While this book does have a chapter on the “millionaire mind,” it's mostly about training mind to think and respond to events in ways that set yourself up for success. In many ways, this philosophy ties directly into one of J.D.'s main tenets behind Get Rich Slowly, which is “money is more about mind than it is about math.” So if you can control your mind, you can control your money (which is a relief to English majors like me!)

Philosophy Behind the Book

McKenna's aim is to help people reframe their experiences so that they can both achieve their goals (like losing weight or paying off debt) and also become mentally flexible enough to take advantage of unique opportunities as they arise. By training yourself to approach and react to situations in particular ways, your responses can become more productive and you can more successfully manage stress.

According to McKenna, the main way to accomplish this is to become an optimist, if you're not one already. Rather than focusing all your thoughts on the things in your life you hate and want to change, you should focus on the things you want to do and become. For example:

  • What is the easiest and fastest way to pay off my debt?

  • How many different ways can I change my budget to save faster?

  • How can I most easily stop spending money on fast food?

Reframing your thoughts in this way implies that your goals are not only possible, they are not difficult to achieve, and that there are multiple ways to reach them. By opening your mind to the idea that your goals will be achieved and it's only a matter of how and when, you'll find yourself coming up with solutions that might not have otherwise occurred to you. McKenna provides a variety of specific exercises to help you develop this frame of mind.

You may have to use some of the tools very deliberately on a schedule at first. McKenna suggests 15 minutes at the start of each day. However, over time, these ways of thinking will become a habit. It will get easier and easier to approach situations optimistically, and before you know it you've re-trained your brain to a new default!

What I Didn't Like

The book had a sort of “law of attraction” approach and typical grandiose self-help writing style that many people, myself included, find a bit hokey. There are inspirational quotes and fables/parables interspersed throughout each of the chapters. Ugh.

The examples he gives of what you might want to be striving for also seemed kind of vague to me. When I set goals, I'm thinking along the lines of paying off $5,000 in student loan principal in 2013 or working out three times a week for the next two months. The examples he gives are things like “making a difference” or “financial security.”

While I think this may have been a strategy to make the book easy to relate to — who doesn't want to make a difference or have financial security? — I think these broad generalizations dilute the power of what McKenna's method could really help you accomplish.

What I Loved

Throughout the book he gives instructions for different visualization exercises. These exercises are designed to immerse you in memories of yourself as powerful, successful, etc., so that you can recreate those states of mind at will. The more vivid or specific your memory, the easier it is to recreate the state of mind associated with that state of mind.

The section on “flow” really spoke to me because I have experienced that a number of times at my job when performing specific tasks. While it never occurred to me to try and induce that state of mind deliberately, it was one of the few times that I really could envision exactly what McKenna was talking about.

McKenna also notes that our society has a love-hate relationship with wealth. As a result, people may sabotage their own efforts to accumulate wealth without even realizing it. The reframe that McKenna ;suggests is to think of the money you earn as “one of the rewards you get for adding value to the lives of others” (215). Thinking about money in this way is likely to open your mind to lots of possible ways to earn more. After all, it means that the more you earn, the more you're giving back!

Who Should Read “Change Your Life in 7 Days”

This is not a personal finance book. However, personal finance is not just about dollars and cents. After all, the formula behind getting rich slowly is simple: spend less than you earn. It stands to reason that if you've been unsuccessful with money, it's not because you don't understand the math. Instead, it's very likely that some aspect of your relationship with money is askew.

If you're interested in digging into your psyche to discover why you are act the way you do with money and want to reprogram your responses so you can approach money matters in a productive and positive way, “Change Your Life in 7 Days” may be a useful book for you. And because it has so many applications beyond personal finance, it may be useful to a wider audience as well.

A note about swag: While I was provided with a free copy of this book for review purposes, I am not affiliated in any way with Paul McKenna or his publisher, and my opinions are entirely my own.

Have you read any books by Paul McKenna or other self-help authors? Do you think that the concepts in self-help books can be applied productively to personal finance topics?

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Politely Vegan
Politely Vegan
7 years ago

I’m reading Brian Tracy’s “No Excuses!” right now. It can wax a little grandiose at times too. But for the most part, the message of using self-discipline as a tool to achieve success is very applicable to the GRS approach to personal finance. Thanks for the review!

Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com
Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com
7 years ago

Sounds interesting. I definitely agree that saving money is 95% mental and 5% numbers.

Also, it sounds like the goals he’s setting aren’t really goals, but objectives.

For setting well thought out goals, they need to be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). It seems like the goals he sets fail in several of those categories…

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

I think that if this book reviewed the SMART system for setting goals, it would have been a lot better! Great point.

Adam
Adam
7 years ago

My favorite personal finance book of all time is The Richest Man in Babylon.

Read it in my Econ class when I was a Junior in High School. It put me on the right track, and I’ve been there ever since.

Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries
Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries
7 years ago

I have to admit, I love self-help type books. I believe they help me stay in a more positive mindset while I work towards financial independence. I believe in the computer-programming theory of your thoughts “garbage in = garbage out” so I work on keeping the negative out as much as possible.

Try New Things
Try New Things
7 years ago

I like the reminder that we just need to spend less than we earn. I earn enough to travel, pay my bills and enjoy my life and that is perfect.

I have retired early and so made financial compromises in the process. So managing spending becomes very important in this new life, where before there was always lots of money coming in if I overspent.

I may like to have a look at this book too, because there are always one or two things that can be learned.

Thomas | Your Daily Finance
Thomas | Your Daily Finance
7 years ago

Reading books like these help some people but I have read so many that they all seem to state the obvious. You have to believe you can achieve and then go out and do something about it. Believing with no action will equal no results. I will pick this up just to see how it reads. I like listening to Earl Nightgale and Richest Man In Babylon was a favorite as well. Mind over matter with smart choices and action equal success.

ImJuniperNow
ImJuniperNow
7 years ago

I dunno. I’ve read so many of these books, plus the Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar self-help books (sans the religious part I found them similar to many financial guides), even enjoyed “Nickled and Dimed to Death”. I just can’t seem to find anything new.

As for being an optimist, the best I can muster is “What’s the worst that can happen?” Don’t laugh – it’s what’s kept me in the stock market and rental condos.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

For me visualization and reinforcement work. So, we have an excel spread sheet with graphs that I use to track our savings goals (when we were killing debt, we had one that tracked repayment). Using Quicken to track our spending provides similar visual impact, that helps me stay on task. I have a photo of the land where I will build my dram house posted in my office, when I get to into perusing J. Crew on line I remind myself that those J. Crew sandals won’t help me get that house built. As for reinforcement, reading about finances, updating… Read more »

Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce
7 years ago

Great emphasis on the power of changed perspective, it sounds. Looking forward!

Steve Burgess
Steve Burgess
7 years ago

The title drew me to reading this. As I was reading I felt compelled to express my beliefs. Law of attraction or manifestation is not a myth and it works, has for me. You receive what you believe in, is something that I have experienced over and over. My belief of course.

test2014
test2014
6 years ago

Usually I don’t read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice article.

Tom | Attraction
Tom | Attraction
5 years ago

Change your life in 7 days.. i’ve the book and in my opinion it is total BS. It is impossible to change your
life in less than 3 weeks some studies say. Other studies talk about the 67 days principle.

Other studies that look at the genes level talk about a period of 18 months before you can change the direction of your life. (refer to the book of: managing one-self of peter drucker). 7 days is simply to short period of a time to change your life.

This is just my opinion btw.
Cheers
Tom

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