One Week to a Better You: 7 Skills You Can Pick Up in 7 Days

Michael Benninger
7 min readAug 23, 2020


As children, we seem to pick up new skills on a near-constant basis. Whether it’s learning to walk, tie our shoes, or ride a bike, our younger selves always seemed to be developing new abilities. As we age, however, and especially as we settle into adulthood, our interest in acquiring new skills often begins to wane. Indeed, it can feel like we reach a point in our lives when we’ve developed all the skills we’re likely to ever need or use.

In truth, though, it’s never too late to learn new, life-changing skills. And while it can certainly take a tremendous amount of time to become fluent in a new language or master computer programming, some skills can be learned in just one day.

If you’re interested in picking up a quick skill that can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life, Blinkist’s library includes tons of titles that can help you develop new talents in no time. So to help you acquire a new ability, here are seven of the best skills to learn and the books that can illuminate the way.

1. Learn to Unlearn

From Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results by Barry O’Reilly

For thousands of years, learning to build a fire from scratch was an invaluable skill that allowed our ancestors to survive. Today, however, matches and lighters allow us to live our entire lives without ever having to rub two sticks together. Compare this to the modern workplace, where innovation occurs at an astonishing rate. Software and strategies that may have served you well five years ago may now be utterly obsolete.

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to learn something new is by forgetting what you already know. This doesn’t mean dismissing wisdom you’ve gleaned from past experiences. Rather, it’s about changing tactics when your performance has plateaued. In Unlearn, business advisor Barry O’Reilly outlines a three-phase program workers can use to let go of knowledge that no longer serves them. It’s a simple process you can pick up in an afternoon, yet it can have a profound impact on your career for decades to come.

2. Learn to Meditate

From Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-To-Book by Dan Harris, Jeff Warren, and Carlye Adler

In turbulent times like this, we could all use a little stillness in our lives. And there’s no better way to clear our heads than by hitting the reset button through meditation. Civilizations in the Eastern world have been practicing meditation for thousands of years, yet in the Western world, it’s long been stigmatized as a new-age fad for hippies. Fortunately, meditation is becoming more mainstream, and for good reason. There are countless benefits to the practice, including greater focus, increased self-awareness, and improved physical and mental health.

In Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, journalist Dan Harris reveals how meditation helped him transform his life by empowering him to live with more presence and purpose. He also dispels many of the myths surrounding this age-old practice and provides several techniques to help readers achieve inner peace. And as Harris and his co-authors explain, it only takes one minute a day to start living more mindfully.

3. Learn Nonviolent Communication Skills

From Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

In the modern world, many of us use labels such as wealthy, poor, skinny, obese, liberal, and conservative to describe ourselves and others. And while these labels may seem like arbitrary statements about an individual’s identity, they’re actually judgments that can limit someone’s liberty, ignore their needs, or diminish their worth. This is known as violent communication, and even though we may use such labels without intending harm, the end result is often more destructive than productive.

In Nonviolent Communication, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg details the damage our words can cause others, and he offers advice on how to communicate clearly and with compassion. The insights in this book not only apply to our conversations with others, but they can also reduce the damaging self-talk that may take place in our minds. It begins with learning to separate observations from evaluations, so you can effectively express yourself while fostering better relationships with the people in your life.

4. Learn Public Speaking

From Talk Like TED: The Nine Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo

It’s safe to say that everyone on this planet is afraid of something, whether it’s spiders, heights, or confined spaces. But there’s one fear, in particular, that outranks all others — even including a fear of death. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an astonishing 73% of Americans suffer from glossophobia, otherwise known as a fear of public speaking. Yet despite the prevalence of this social disorder, it’s easy to overcome once you familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of delivering a powerful presentation.

In Talk Like TED, communication expert Carmine Gallo details the presentation secrets employed by many of the world’s most influential speakers. His research, based on his analysis of more than 500 TED Talks, sheds light on the three simple techniques commonly used in the conferences’ most impactful presentations. He further underscores the importance of communicating with passion, while explaining how speakers can structure presentations to create a memorable and emotional connection with their audience.

5. Learn to Write Clearly

From Do I Make Myself Clear? Why Writing Well Matters by Harold Evans

Compared to earlier eras in human history, when published writing was almost exclusively found in books, magazines, and newspapers, we’re now inundated with the written word, thanks to email, social media, and online news outlets. And while the Information Age has certainly ushered in abundant benefits, it’s also exposed us to an atrocious amount of poorly-constructed content. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a degree in English to become an effective communicator. All you need is an understanding of a few fundamental rules for writing.

In Do I Make Myself Clear?, journalist Harold Evans explains how good, clear writing can be learned — and in a lot less time than you might think. For starters, he recommends mixing up the structure of your sentences and leaving out unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. Furthermore, he explains the value of front-loading sentences, and he reveals when to use the passive voice — and when to lose it.

6. Learn to Be Persuasive

From Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Whether it’s in our personal or professional lives, we all like getting our way in this world. Unfortunately, simply wishing for something to happen rarely translates into reality. Psychological studies, however, have found that our brains use shortcuts when making decisions, and these shortcuts can be used to influence the actions of others. But, by the same token, other people can employ similar tactics to persuade us to act a certain way.

In Influence, Professor Robert Cialdini explains that our brains use such shortcuts in order to cope with the complexity of the world. He details how these pathways in our brains are often linked to one of six psychological principles. Cialdini shares several strategies regarding how to exploit these shortcuts to your advantage, and he instructs readers how to identify when unscrupulous individuals are attempting to manipulate us. By following the author’s advice, you can learn to use subconscious cues to get your way more often while also defending yourself against ill-intentioned manipulators.

7. Learn to Have Self-Compassion

From Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff

As children, humans are naturally inclined to seek the approval of adults around them. But for those of us who grew up with critical parents, teachers, or coaches, that influence may have evolved into an internal criticism we used to avoid disappointing the adults in our lives. And while a certain amount of self-criticism can lead to self-improvement, being overly critical of ourselves can be extremely destructive. The good news, however, is that there’s a way to counteract such negative thought patterns by being kind to ourselves.

In Self-Compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff explains how children who grow up in critical environments often mature into adults who are their own worst critics. Such individuals hold themselves to higher standards and get unreasonably upset when they make mistakes. But as Dr. Neff notes, we can learn to replace these feelings of inadequacy with kinder, healthier, more productive thoughts. It starts with practicing self-compassion and being more understanding and forgiving of our pain and disappointment.

If you’re interested in developing any of these skills or learning more about any of these books, Blinkist makes it easy to change your life in as little as 15 minutes. Our app includes thousands of nonfiction titles that can expand your intellectual horizon and empower you to live a more fulfilling life. It’s as simple as opening the Blinkist app and exploring our library. And since we’re constantly adding new takeaways from today’s most popular books, you’ll always find something new to learn.

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