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A Short Collection of Unconventional Ideas

A Short Collection of Unconventional Ideas

unconventional-park-bench

GENERAL

A year after you leave college, no one will care what your GPA was.

Once you fully understand what you want, it’s not usually that difficult to get it.

At all stages of life, people will gladly offer you unsolicited lists of things you “must” do, be, or have. Most of the time you can nod your head, walk away, and ignore them.

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

Potential is good when you’re 15 years old. After that, you need to start doing something.

Simplifying your life is like running – not that complicated. You don’t need gadgets or monthly magazines to do either of these activities.

“Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” –Martin Luther King, Jr

Before people become widely accepted as heroes, they are usually hated by large segments of the general population. See Gandhi, Jesus, Martin Luther (the original), Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, and many others.

WORK

Contrary to what you may have heard, it does not always “take money to make money.” You can start many businesses for less than $100.

You don’t need employees to have a business. In fact, it’s probably easier not to.

In many organizations, it’s not hard to stand out by being remarkable. Sadly, this is true in non-profit organizations just as much as in cubicle nation.

If you’re only working 10 productive hours a week but technically have to be on a job site for another 30 hours, why not spend 5-10 hours of the extra time doing something useful instead of just surfing the internet? Ideas: learn a language, write a novel, plan your retirement, whatever.

TRAVEL

If you save $2 a day for three years, you can go anywhere in the world. Most places will take much less than three years.

The list of really big mistakes that you can’t recover from is very short. You can walk into glass doors in Singapore, arrive in Pakistan without a visa, or even double-book yourself on two non-refundable flights from Asia. Most of the time, everything turns out fine.

On your next flight, why wait in discomfort with all the masses? Stand outside an airline lounge and politely ask a friendly-looking person on the way in if they’ll vouch for you. Almost all lounges let members bring one or two guests in for free.

There aren’t that many dangerous places in the world. True, Somalia would not make a good vacation spot. But the list of Somalias is short, and the list of amazing places is long.

ART

If you don’t enjoy spending long periods of time working by yourself with no external validation, a career in the arts is probably not a good choice.

Despite appearances to the contrary, it’s OK for artists to make money.

Jackson Pollock: is it really art? Your opinion is the only one that matters.

GETTING SERIOUS

Sometimes things that seem “too good to be true” actually turn out to be true. If you’re skeptical by nature, you might miss out on some of them.

You are not a bad person if you want to do something for yourself.

You don’t have to feel guilty for having more than other people do. The goal is to help them get more by creating wealth, not by taking it away from you.

These things are optional:

  • Cars
  • Credit Cards
  • Houses
  • Bank Accounts
  • Phones
  • Insurance
  • Email

[Note: They can all be useful; just understand that they are also optional.]

Sometimes, the underdog can defeat the establishment. (Then, the underdog becomes the establishment, but that’s another story.)

Almost anyone can learn to do 100 push-ups in six weeks. True story: I completed my push-up challenge by doing the final exercises in the Ulaan Bataar airport in Mongolia this summer, waiting to fly back to Korea.

It’s not that hard to change when you really want to. Smokers who try to quit several times before succeeding often say that only on their last attempt did they really want to change.

There is almost always more than one way to accomplish something.

***

That’s what I’ve got so far. Care to add anything below?

###

Image: pasotraspaso

70 Comments

  • Andrew Lynch says:

    Chris,

    Awesome post man. I totally agree with your comments about potential, and the idea that there are very few mistakes that you can’t recover from. Great stuff man.

    Andy

  • SoulRiser says:

    “At all stages of life, people will gladly offer you unsolicited lists of things you “must” do, be, or have. Most of the time you can nod your head, walk away, and ignore them.”
    ^ Best advice ever. :D

  • Gary says:

    Hey Chris, great blog! I’ve been following it for a few weeks now and I really liked this post. I’m enjoying reading your opinions, great stuff man!

  • Wow, I realised many facts about myself by just reading the article.

    There may be some constraints but doing what you want is really simple. Just think a little bit.

  • Cedric says:

    Chris,

    Thanks for your wonderful list. Your website alone is clearing the smoke necessary for me to pursue my non-conform life. Becuase of your influence on me, I started my own blog and will purchase second guide soon.

    Once again, thanks for giving me the insight to “break free”

    Cedric

  • Robert Gisel says:

    To answer your question, yes I would add a snippet for Persistenc: Be true to your goals. There is no failure but what you have failed to persist. Any worthwhile goal is always achieved one day if you continue to put it there.

  • @billcarroll says:

    Another excellent post. A great example of how what’s relevant for you is so often relevant for others. Keep it coming.

  • You can add ‘FICO score’ to the list of numbers that people try to define you by.

  • Not sure how unconventional it is, but I am learning to like…

    “It’s (frequently) easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

    The “frequently” is mine, and really in there for scrupulous types like me who were raised with rules and nuns and lots of order. It can be heartstopping for people like us to step out of line, and yet, we kind of have to, sometimes.

  • moom says:

    GPAs are only important for applying to grad schools, but there too they aren’t that important. As someone who used to deal with graduate admissions I mainly wanted to see that you had done well in the most relevant courses to what you were now applying to do and especially what your grades looked like in your later university years. The GPA therefore wasn’t too important but it couldn’t be too low.

  • Kat says:

    Great post. So much in life is about perspective.

  • Metroknow says:

    On the GPA: I recently applied for a contract in which they indeed asked for my GPA for each of the post-secondary schools I’ve attended.

    The funny thing is, _I_ didn’t even remember. :)

    As usual, your post is right on the mark. Thanks for gathering such a great set of resources to a single point.

  • Licer says:

    Great post, Chris. =)

  • Jess says:

    Awesome. Loved the bit on GPAs.
    My friend’s mother scoffs at the idea of making an unconventional living, as if “work life” is not a part of “real life”. The two are seperate; one’s for enjoyment, and the other funds that enjoyment. She thinks its a bit odd when people actually pursue their interests for a job instead of the highest paycheck.

    Anyhoo, I’m incredibly glad my dad passed your blogsite over to me; its that push I need when life gets too heavy and its cunfusing to know what to do.

    Thanks!

  • I just don’t know how you do it, Chris. But, please, keep doing whatever it is you’re doing in order to write stuff like this! Kudos to you, my friend.

  • Chris,

    I agree with all except, “A year after you leave college, no one will care what your GPA was.” This is certainly not true if you ever want to go to graduate school……. or become a professor! :)

  • Thomas says:

    I learned to do 100 pushups once… I just started doing 1 on the first day, 2 on the second… and kept it up until I reached 100. It was not actually hard at all.

  • Karen Zara says:

    I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for having written this post. You can’t imagine how good I felt after reading it. It contains so many truths and precious pieces of advice, that it’s hard to highlight any specific passage.

    I’ve stumbled and delicioused your post. Now I’ll spread the word about it at Twitter. ;)

  • Graham says:

    What an excellent collection Chris.

    My favourite is still “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.” On the surface it sounds straightforward, even obvious, but with reflection it’s profound and potentially life-changing (if acted upon).

    So often our brains run with the default settings – because we think others expect it – when it’s perfectly okay to customise the settings.

  • sherelle says:

    “A year after you leave college, no one will care what your GPA was.”

    indeed. i always keep in mind that my goal in college is to get my degree. that way i don’t get caught up in the overachieving details, and i can focus on what’s more important to me…like sleeping, dancing, and playing with my happy dog.

  • Benny says:

    “If you don’t go when you want to go, when you do go, you’ll find you’ve gone.” – Burt Munro, from the Worlds Fastest Indian (high recommended story about living your dream).

    Great post and great website! Best of luck.

  • Slinky says:

    Here’s one that I find floating around the personal finance blogs a lot that I’ve really taken to heart:
    Live like others won’t, so that you can live like others can’t.

    And my life’s motto:
    Balance in all things.

  • Frances says:

    I scoffed my motto from Emerson Fittipaldi “Go fast in the fast places and slow in the slow places” To me, that means put your time, money and energy where it makes most sense and fly through the rest.

  • Melody says:

    Hi Chris!

    This is the first time I’ve ever visited your site. Found you through StumbleUpon. I’ll definitely be back. And probably mention in my own blog, too.

    Thank you – it’s great to have a list of items such as these all in a single place.

  • Mary says:

    Hey, wonderful post. I also really liked the one about “How to be Remarkably Average”. The quote I liked best from here was “You are not a bad person if you want to do something for yourself.” I’ve suffered from serious depression for years, and have tried to kill myself multiple times…on more than one occasion, I remember the impetus having something to do with me feeling incredibly selfish. My friends are constantly telling me it’s okay to do something just for myself without worrying about others, but for some reason, seeing it in bold on your site really stood out to me. Thank you.

  • Michael says:

    >There are not many mistakes that can not be recovered from<

    I have found it to be so, and in fact, some of the “mistakes” lead to unforeseen success. The Chinese have a saying “Failure is the mother of success.” It is true, you just have to be able to tolerate the feeling of mottling a skin.

  • brittainy says:

    Awesome post!
    Wanting to change does make a world of difference as it can be a force that can make or break your efforts. I think also that people want to change, but are not ready for the work involved in the voluntary change, whatever it is. I find myselfdealing with this and, once progress has been made on my goal I find it much easier than expected!
    Keep a positive outlook and of course, want the change and it will come to you!

  • Melissa says:

    I like and live by “You don’t have to be an early riser to be successful or happy”

  • Eric Weinstein says:

    After watching “The Razor’s Edge” (Bill Murray version) one night, I realized the following:

    1. All of life is a paradox.
    2. The more freedom you have, the more responsibility you have.
    3. Life has no inherent meaning. The only meaning life has is the meaning that you give it.
    4. There is no “pay-off.”

  • suba says:

    I will put ‘marriage’ in optional ;)

    I had a similar view on many things unconventional, and coming from a background which is mostly conservative, it was a hard time growing up and getting punished by society (no regrets though). For some people,it’s harder to be conventional.

    Things I realized as I grew up:
    - It’s ok to be introvert and not to speak. You can still connect to people.
    - Only two things open up mind – reading and travelling. No college degrees, no pedigree, nothing opens up mind. I see very educated, rich, etc people closed mind
    - You support something doesn’t mean you are part of it or one of them. This usually comes from my support for gays.
    - You are as strong as the choices you have. The more free you are, you have more choices

    so on….

  • dreamin2u says:

    Great article!! Someone once said, “Just because you don’t need to be told doesn’t mean you don’t need reminding.” (Zig Ziglar I believe). Thanks for reminding me!!

  • Josh Willits says:

    One of my favorite pieces of advice:

    “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb

  • tippy says:

    Wow. I really like the concept of saving $2 per day. Not that the concept hasn’t been introduced to me before. It’s just that recently, I discovered that if I spent the same amount of money in malls and unnecessary stuff I buy and reallocate the funds to traveling, it’s so much more fulfilling, memorable & refreshing :) Keep on posting Chris! You continue to inspire me + the n people I’ve sent links of your articles to.

  • Vinodh says:

    Awesome post Chris… I wish I had read this when I was in school fighting for good GPA… “The list of really big mistakes that you can’t recover from is very short” – Thats a sucker-punch, if you are in doubt of trying out new stuff…

    -Vinodh

  • Andrew says:

    Awesome post… really inspiring and came at the perfect time.

  • Romney Amber Anthony says:

    Very nice–a solid help to clarity. We all need clarity. Thanks..

  • Anthony says:

    Being healthy is really easy. Being sick takes years of dedication, hard work and commitment.

  • Bob Ford says:

    My own 2 cents:

    Some of life’s biggest disappointments often occur when you expect others to act or behave in a situation as you would.

    Love the site and what you’re doing. Keep up the amazing stuff and live life to its fullest.
    best
    b

  • T. Doria says:

    Learning is a life long experience.

    Learn one thing about everything and everything about one thing

  • Marilyn Day says:

    Traffic control; this website is my mental health break in a very hectic job.
    I look forward to your take on ‘stuff’; so, I think others find it similarly so.
    Despite everything, I try to learn something new everyday; that usually means listening to the least or even sometimes the most obvious and to others’ stories because we all have one.
    thanks always for showing up
    Marilyn

  • KayeJaye says:

    What about spouses and kids — are they optional too?

  • To your list I offer: ‘Having a goal shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the journey to your destination.’

  • Amber says:

    A great one my Buddhist friend taught me, best used whenever someone tells me what I “have to” do (you “have to” buy a house now, you “have to” fully fund your Roth IRA, you “have to” finish your PhD…):

    “All I HAVE to do in this life is die.”

    So freeing!

  • Kagongona says:

    I have been following you since inception,but the craving to look at your latest post is always overwhelming.I echo your input especially on life principle by adding my own school of thought(psyche/Mind);”Life is about choices,make yours count regardless of the outcome”.while business school of thought(business outlook) is “Create your luck by risking what you got on the table for that makes all the difference” is more like if you don’t risk you risk even more.

    Chris keep up the good work,am part of your greater small army(royal).I salute you comrade.It’s my greatest honor to serve with you in the battle of conformity.

    see you on the front line.Cheers ,
    Sam Kagongona.

  • Nichole Moses says:

    A friend introduced me to your site last week, and I was happy to find that somebody shared many of the same views on life as I do. I’m very impressed with what you are doing here Chris. I think it would be “awesome” if you introduced a writing category on marriage, with an unconventional viewpoint, of course.

    I am 28, not married but have many, many thoughts on the subject, and relationships in general. I completely agree with you about the people who complain about others to you, are probably always complaining about you to others. This has always been true in my experience. Some people are just socially negatively toxic, and I try to put as much distance between myself and those people as possible. One of my insights on marriage is this: It is possible the main reason over half all marriages in our country end in divorce is because the persons involved do not firmly realize that marriage is a contract they are entering into. The vows they recite are the conditions of that contract; the conditions that they must morally, and legally uphold for the REST of their lives.

    I wanted to share just a few ideas I feel are the basis for a what a good marriage that will last needs.

    1. Marry somebody whom you have ALOT in common with. Marriage is supposed to be forever, whether people choose to honor that or not. So why not make it easy on yourself? If you’re down with 4-ever-don’t get married, it isn’t something you HAVE to do.

    2. Marry a person who exhilarates you mentally, and loves to communicate. It’s just a perk if they’re a “hottie.” Looks will inevitably fade, and the road is long my friend. All that remains true, in terms of time, is your stimulation by the actual person beyond the exterior.

    3. Write original vows! This is a huge deal. While marriage is a legal contract, it should NEVER ever have stiff “run-of-the-mill” fine print. It is an IMMENSLEY personal agreement. I cringe when I hear generic vows at a marriage. I know that I run the risk of offending many, but to me personally, it’s like hearing a ticking time bomb.

    Why do I feel these are unconventional ideas on marriage? Sadly, I believe these obviously important details, are just a few in a long list of many that almost nobody I know truly considers before walking down the isle.

  • moom says:

    Nichole Moses – well at our wedding we just said “With this ring I marry you”. No “vows”. Which there aren’t at a traditional Jewish wedding either (and probably not at a Chinese one – I’m Jewish and my wife is Chinese). Though at the Jewish wedding there is a contract (the Ketuba). Our format was the minimum required by Australian law. There were other readings and statements and stuff.

  • Laurie says:

    I really identify with your comment about how heroes are often hated initially. I have so much to say that’s completely unconventional, but I know most people will react negatively to my views, so I mostly keep them to myself and just carry on with what I believe is best even in the face of major opposition from family, friends, etc.

    Since the subject of marriage has been introduced in the comments, I’ll just throw my view out there: I think marriage is outdated. If people continue to learn, grow, evolve, and change as they get older, being tied to the same person for their entire adult lives rarely works and doesn’t even make sense. I think a better solution would be a commitment for a certain time period such as 5 or 10 years which provides all the legal benefits and which can be renewed if both parties are still in agreement.

    Thanks for the great article, Chris! Love your writing and ideas.

  • Nichole Moses says:

    @Laurie: I think you are absolutely correct. Marriage isn’t necessary anymore, and most definitely not for everyone. For those of us that would like to enjoy the company of someone we truly admire for the long hall, I believe we should equip ourselves with tools necessary to make a relationship not only last a long time but, to grow in it’s own unique way and be fulfilling to both persons involved. The first thing that I believe is involved is knowing yourself as best you can before you make ANY commitments. Also to really have an understanding of what marriage really is. I think most people go into serious relationships and/or marriages really sort of ignorant about relationships in general. Do what you would do before you make any life changes; educate yourself.

  • Daniel says:

    This is already how I live my life! =D nice to know other people are living too… most people these days have less originallity than ants… I’ve left my past behind plenty of times when it grew stagnant… most people are terrified to do so… anyway I hope more people realize these things eventually… though I doubt it… people in power keep most of you scared and defeated

  • xenia says:

    i want to add one thing to your list of things that are optional in life: children.

    for some reason, everyone seems to think that once you’re “of a certain age”, children are mandatory. but, I say, only if you want them.

    it’s been a huge struggle emotionally, but me and my husband have finally come to terms with the idea that “we are not bad people just because we don’t want to have kids.” it doesn’t make us evil, and it doesn’t make us monsters. it makes us people who like to do things and have things just for us. there are a million reasons why we don’t want them – and a million people out there who feel that it is their mission in life to convince us we are wrong.

    if it makes you happy, and it doesn’t hurt anyone, how can it be wrong?

  • Nichole Moses says:

    @Daniel: Absolutely. How else are we supposed to find our true selves if we don’t experiment, and then let go of what doesn’t work?

  • Selma says:

    I love your perspective on things that seem “too good to be true”! Why doubt them? Savor them while they are true!

    One of my own favorites: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that we aim too low and we reach it” — Michaelangelo

  • João says:

    One bit of advice I’m trying to apply to my own life:
    “Jump and the net will appear”
    Great post and great blog.

  • Hazel Vargas says:

    Great post, as usual, Chris. Some of them are familiar, but coming from you they sound fresh again. I need those reminders especially when I find myself putting up a wall of resistance when something seems impossible to achieve.

    On marriage, I can say from experience that it’s the little things that cause friction and escalate into a war. I’ve been married and divorced twice [to the same person] — ok I hear the snickering already from the audience. My advice is don’t wait too long or make excuses or justifications for your spouse’s pecadillos. So I’m all for a marriage lease :-) — anywhere from short-term (3 months) to “long term” (7 years), renewable by mutual agreement. If it gets rocky the first 3 months, chances are it will stay the same forever. Believe me. If the “plumber” you hired couldn’t fix the leak, find another . . . no, not another plumber. Get a new lease.

  • Oleg Mokhov says:

    Hey Chris,

    Less is more. In life, work, and creativity.

    Get desired results faster and easier by being effective, not just productive. Focus on the important, ignore the rest – you’ll do less and get more.

    Focus on the 20% that will bring you 80% results. Use freed up resources on doing the same to your other things.

    Life maximization is the most effective way to live. You maximize your limited time and energy on what’s important to you and ruthlessly cut out the rest. Fill your life to the brim with what makes you happy.

    Thanks for your great unconventional ideas. Keep living an remarkable life,
    Oleg

  • bette says:

    Love your web site, Chris and I admire your courage and trutfullness. Keep on living a full life. The information about frequent air miles will be great. Thanks for what you do. B

  • Chris-
    I particularly like you list of non-essentials, and the idea of only needing $2 a day to travel.

    Thanks

  • Denise says:

    I’m from the Caribbean and education is IMPORTANT! But I’ve come to realize that it’s pointless to develop a great mind and lose your soul in the process. To not really know who you are, what you’re about, what you stand for because for so very long, you’ve listened to other voices telling you what to do, what to think, who to be. You’re fortunate Chris that at this early age, you’ve figured out the real deal. “Be you.” That’s what each of us is here for, I believe. But we get so caught up in what “they” say is best for us (loudly or ever so silently.) I wish you well. I’ve been here longer than you, but I’m just starting the non-conformity journey. I call it the “be-thine-own-self journey.” Shakespeare was right. We’ll then serve the rest of humanity well. It’s the only way. Thanks for listening to your voice and stepping out in faith and doing this work online for us all to be a part of.

  • ida says:

    You are not a bad person if you want to do something for yourself.

    Just what I wanted to hear today. This was amazingly good advice :)

  • justagirl says:

    You will re-invent yourself hundreds of times during the course of your life. Don’t be afraid of it.

  • Great post.

    One thing to add to the list of optional things in life. Going to a formal school is also optional. Check first before assuming you have to send your child to a building with the word school on the front.

    Life offers a whole range of alternatives.

    As someone who no longer has a house, car or credit card, I can endorse the rest of the list.

  • don says:

    Awesome post. I have never had to tell anyone that I graduated from USC business school- but with a 2.5 GPA. :)

  • This was great Chris. I especially enjoyed your point about the GPA, which I believe is one of the greatest ‘false-symbols’ society has of one’s future success. In fact, much of school and college are a very poor reflection of what will end up with ‘the man’ and his/her happiness and awareness in the long run. Keep up your greatness.

  • Jeanie says:

    Being a non conformist whilst bringing up children is a challenging thing to do. I copped heaps of criticism even from my husband, but I stayed true to what I believed and as a result I have 4 very independent children I don’t have to worry about. I will be sharing your site with my grandchildren. Thank you thank you. I love your web site and read every email from you.

  • Kiki says:

    Every time I start thinking that maybe I should just go the safe’n’standard route instead of making my life my own, I reread the sage advice here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the continued inspiration on my non-conformist journey.

  • charles says:

    Technical degrees are like GPAs too, perhaps with a slightly longer useful life. The last time anyone asked me about my degrees was almost 20 years ago and I don’t know where mine are any more.

    All the paper does is give you is something to wave around when you have no experience. Once you have a few years of experience none of that matters.

    As a parent that homeschools I’m starting to seriously doubt the wisdom of going to university/college at all. You can learn more, faster, and cheaper by learning on your own and gaining real world experience. ie. extend the home schooling principles into university/college space.

  • Kate says:

    Always been a non-conformist myself and got lots of stick for it over the years…keep going Chris with this great blog to encourage all of us to stick with what we know is the best way to live life….

  • The short and sweet of it …

    Thanks for being YOU, Chris, and keep on keepin’ on!

  • Someone mentioned failure – there isn’t failure. We can choose to quit working on that goal, or realize that it won’t work out the way we would like, but we can choose to continue in a different way.

    I’m new to your blog and am loving it so far.

  • Billy Bostick says:

    Lead, do not follow (as a general rule) unless the leaders views mirror your own. Ultimately being happy requires us to follow our own instincts and in order to do that we are generally required to be self-employed. Chris’s comments about things that are optional but conventionally thought to be needed is key. Accepting the realease of these optional vices is very liberating. I still have some of these things but i have them because they are what i want – not because someone else thinks i need them.

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