Nir’s Note: This guest post comes from  Brendan Kane who has built technology for MTV, Paramount, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and the NHL. In this article, Brendan describes how he reprogramed the way he views the world using little more than his iPhone and iPad.

We all have the power to change our lives. I know this because I found ways to reprogram my inner circuitry and change my perspective of the world. A few simple steps inserted into my daily routine dramatically improved my life. Surprisingly, many of my new rituals were made possible using the technology I carry with me every day.

Think Big

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.”

-Steve Jobs

I was trained to think small and seek comfort rather than risk. From an early age, many of us are told to think realistically and to leave the big audacious ideas to people with more experience and resources. But the truth is, as Steve Jobs said, ““Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”

We are all born with the same basic brain hardware and though there are variations in intelligence between people, the differences are relatively minor and show little correlation with life outcomes. However, what does make a difference  is how much we believe in ourselves and our capabilities. A much greater determinant of where we will end up in life is whether we have what Stanford researcher Carol Dweck calls a “fixed” or “growth mindset.”

I set out to remove the fixed mindset I had cultivated over the years. I did this through a daily practice of using my iPhone notes tool to brainstorm the biggest and craziest ideas I could think up. These ideas could be anything from starting a billion dollar business to designing a way to live on the moon. The practice of thinking big on a daily basis flexed my mind’s capacity to move past limitation and helped me become a more creative thinker.

Use Gratitude to Change Your Attitude

“Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life.”

-Jack Canfield

One of the most impactful steps in reprogramming my brain was to take a daily inventory of everything I was grateful for. Before I go to sleep each night, I make a list of the positive things that came into my life that day. For example, I might jot down a few words to remember a particularly beautiful sunset, a compliment I received, or even a meeting that went well. I use a gratitude app on my phone to record these moments.

This routine sounds trivial but I found something strange happened when I adopted the practice. After about 30 days my perception of the world began to change. I became happier because I found myself more aware of the amazing things I had in my life. I would stop several times a day to smile in recognition and appreciation of the small things in life. The change also impacted my professional life. I started to attract more fulfilling business opportunities and more positive people to the projects I was working on.

Carry Your Dreams With You

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

- Anais Nin

What would you do tomorrow if you won the lottery? What are 10 things that you would want to accomplish with the rest of your life? Most people can only list a few things that they would do and some people can’t list any. I asked myself what the point was of running so hard toward financial independence when I really had no idea what I was going to do once I got there. If I didn’t know what I wanted, how could I achieve it?

I discovered that one of the best ways to determine what I wanted was to create a dream book of images on my iPad that I could look at every morning and evening. I gathered a list of images that represented the things I wanted most in my life and I put images representing them on my iPad and iPhone.

I often listen to my favorite music while I play a slide show of the pictures I use to remind me of the things I want to achieve, places I want to go, people I want to meet. I imagine what it would feel like if I had each of those things in my life. This exercise created a thought sequence that helped me set new goals in life and provided a deliberate destination that I could envision working and striving for each day.

Perception is Reality

Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. Indeed, we are highly influenced by the way we see things. Changing the direction of our lives seems difficult because many of us have been conditioned to believe it is not possible.

But the truth is, changing our lives is as easy as changing the way we think. Changing my own life was a slow process, but I began to feel more joy and fulfillment by regularly incorporating these simple technology-facilitated habits.

Image Credit: JD Hancock

Note: This guest essay was written by Brendan Kane.

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  • Steve Daar

    Inspired by James Altucher’s ‘Choose Yourself’, I’ve been keeping daily Idea & Gratitude lists.

    Both have had positive impacts on my life but I still find my motivation to act on those ideas/push towards those goals is still lower than I would like it to be (and then I mentally beat myself up later on for not taking as much action as I feel I could or should have).

    Any recommendations on how to harness the motivation and turn it into effective action?

    Great post by the way!

    - Steve

    • Nir Eyal

      I recommend reading about my concept of a MEA (minimum enjoyable actions), see:

      You may be asking too much of yourself.

      • Steve Daar

        Thanks for sharing that. Good read.

        I already use that method to help me start flossing regularly but never thought about extending that method to other parts of my life that seem more significant than flossing (wealth building, maximizing time with family/friends, etc)

        - Steve

  • Ilias Karim

    Great post! Perhaps tellingly, none of these habits actually require an iPhone or iPad at all. A simple journal would do the trick and keep you from getting so easily distracted by push notifications or other apps

    • Nir Eyal

      Very true but I would argue that many of these habits are made easier with technology.

  • Daniela

    ““Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.”

    I love that quote. I repeat it to myself every time someone says that I am crazy to think I can actually get my start-up funded. Anything I say that sounds out of this world, makes people laugh.

    Grayson Marshall once said “If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, you aren’t dreaming big enough.”

    So what I say to everyone… Make sure people are laughing :)

    Great post. Made me a very happy person, this beautiful Tuesday afternoon.