Unconventional Ideas to Help You Get Outside the Box

A curiosity-inducing list of unconventional ideas and extraordinary things you may not have considered but may want to try.


All It Takes is One

“We all agreed that your idea is crazy. What divides us is whether it is crazy enough.”

Niels Bohr

Not all of the 20+ unconventional ideas below will interest you. You’ll think some are pointless, unoriginal, or too difficult. That’s fine. Because all it takes is one.

Hopefully just one of these unconventional ideas sparks your curiosity and inspires you toward extraordinary things. And hopefully it’ll be crazy enough to break you out of your puny little comfort zone for good.

Unconventional Ideas for Your…

Unconventional Ideas for Your Social Life

Human user manual image

💡 Hand Out Your Personal User Manual

Get along with each other better.

Instead of expecting people to decipher your quirks, preferences, pet peeves, and motivations through trial and error, put together a personal user manual and send it to them.

Read More: Personal User Manuals: Good Samples and Tips on Making Your Own

Example of one of the 36 questions to fall in love.
One of the 36 questions that can create a bond between you and anybody in no time.

💡 Go Through These 36 Questions With Someone

Make a new intimate friend in one sitting.

According to The Power of Moments, strangers who’ve gone through these 36 scientifically devised and increasingly intense questions rate their level of intimacy as high as that of best friends or family members.

taco dinner party

💡 Throw Dinner Parties

Make new friends as adults.

Rather than go to some restaurant where others cook for you while you absentmindedly talk about the same topics as always as you check out other tables from the corner of your eye, invite a few new people to the intimacy of your home, and cook something yourself (it really doesn’t matter what), and organize a game or activity (blind taste tests are great) to spice things up.

Read More: 5 Steps to Host Memorable Dinner Parties with Friends

💡 Exchange Daily Gratitude

Fight less with your partner or spouse.

Every day, tell your partner or spouse something different about them that you are grateful for.

As the years progress, it gets harder and harder to come up with new gratefuls, but you’ll also notice your fights get fewer and farther between.

Read More: Daily Gratitude: The Cheese but Easy Way to Fix a Struggling Relationship

💡 Try “Belief Remodeling”

Let people change their own minds.

Treat someone’s beliefs as a room in a home they’ve lived in for decades. If you barge in and tell them it’s ugly and wrong, there’s no way they’re going to react favorably.

To change people’s minds, act like you’re an interior designer:

  • Get invited first.
  • Understand where they’re coming from and what they want
  • Then give them material to decide for themselves what they want to do.

Read More: The Step-by-Step Approach to Actually Change Someone’s Mind

De-motivational speaking cover image of Kim giving thumbs down

💡 Practice De-Motivational Speaking

Burst some bubbles for the greater good.

Participation trophies and “If you can believe, you can achieve” mantras are turning us into a bunch of deluded, entitled, self-talking lunatics. It’s like an eternal grown-up Halloween of people pretending (and believing) they’re superheroes and getting candy for it.

The antidote? Bursting bubbles with de-motivational speaking.

Read More: De-Motivational Speaking: Enough Being “Nice,” Let’s Get Real

Chris and Kim living the high life at a Cape Town winery

💡 Forget Wedding Ring “Traditions”

Make it your own.

Ignore the marketing hype and leave worrying about how much money to spend until the end. Start by figuring out—with your partner!—what the point of the ring is and what alternatives are best for your relationship.

If you do, you may end up with a ring as unconventional as Kim’s.

Read More: Rethinking How to Find the Perfect Engagement Ring

Unconventional Ideas for Your Self-Improvement

YouTube video

💡 Log Everything You Do

Regain control of your time and memories.

Put that phone that never leaves your side to good use by logging your activities day in and day out. Every time you finish an activity or task, note the time and, briefly, what you did.

You’ll become conscious of how you’re spending your time, which will cause you to use it more wisely. And you’ll be able to look back at your logs years later to rekindle fond memories.

Read More: Lifelogging: Can Keeping Track of Everything You Do Help You Do More?

Pretirement cover image of Chris on the beach
Chris loving pretirement life.

💡 Plan Your Pretirement

Find a career worth living for.

Pre-retire, a.k.a. “pretire,” well in advance of retirement age. Travel and destress to factory reset your brain, then pursue your interests without monetary concerns.

Odds are, before you run out of pretirement funds, you’ll have found a new profession that doesn’t feel like working.

Read More: The Unexpected Consequences of “Pretiring” at 27

💡 Hire A Coach

Accelerate your development.

And I don’t mean a life coach.

Just as you would hire a coach to accelerate your learning of a specific sport, identify a specific skill you want to improve (like public speaking, negotiating, writing, or typing), find people who are the best at it, and ask them to refer you to someone who might be able to coach you one-on-one.

💡 Learn Esperanto

The shortcut to learning other languages faster.

Esperanto was invented to be learned in as little as 150 hours. Studies find that students who studied Esperanto before taking on another “real” language learned that “real” language 25-to-50% faster than their counterparts who studied the “real” language from the start.

Nature pyramid illustration

💡 Climb the Nature Pyramid

Experience the 3-Day Effect.

Michael Easter puts it like this in his book, The Comfort Crisis:

“Three or more days in the wild is like a meditation retreat. Except talking is allowed and the experience is free of costs and gurus.”

And it’s the peak of the “Nature Pyramid” pictured above. The higher and more regularly you climb it, the fresher you’ll feel, plus or minus a few mosquito bites.

Read More: The 3-Day Effect Will Motivate You to Escape into Nature

Blind taste test ideas and guide cover image
Are you sure you know your true preferences, or have marketers and society brainwashed you?

💡 Do Blind Taste Tests

Stop wasting money on overpriced food and drink.

I’m putting blind taste tests under “Unconventional Ideas for Self-Improvement” rather than “Unconventional Ideas for Diet” because they’re about more than honing your taste preferences.

Blind taste tests:

  • Are a fun excuse for a social occasion.
  • Force you to challenge your beliefs.
  • Let you explore a specific type of food or drink in depth. (I’ve taste-tested croissants, French press coffee, California rolls, pizza, gelato, Colombian cheeses, sourdough, and the list goes on….)
  • Helps you decide what to buy in the future, and potentially saves you money from paying extra for fancy brands.

Read More: Blind Taste Test Ideas, FAQ, and How to Conduct One in 13 Steps

Unconventional Ideas for Fitness

Workout-life balance cover image.

💡 Seek Workout-Life Balance

Working out doesn’t have to feel like work.

Consider applying the work-life balance tropes to your fitness:

  1. Mix fitness with pleasure
  2. Work out remotely
  3. Take your workouts home with you (and everywhere else).
  4. Join great company with co-workout-ers you enjoy spending time with.
  5. Prioritize not being Mr./Ms. Olympia or an Olympian, but an “Old-lympian,” someone who stays fit enough to have fun with their friends deep into old age.

Read More: Find Your Fitness Lifestyle With a Healthy Workout-Life Balance

Long term fitness goal cover image of centenarian racing in the olympics

💡 Train for the Centenarian Olympics

Stay fit and healthy longer.

Train as if for an Olympic Games for 100+-year-olds.

This mindset disincentivizes training that could cost you later on in life (running and jumping on cement, steroids, imbalanced training) and refocuses your regime on what matters (mobility, strength, coordination). Maybe it’ll hold you back from reaching your “peak” when you’re young, but it may also help you feel like a gold medalist when you’re 100.

Read More: The Ultimate Long-Term Fitness Goal Is to Be an Old-lympian

Alexander Technique review cover image of Chris lying on the ground as instructed by his teacher.
Chris doing his intense Alexander Technique homework.

💡 Try The Alexander Technique

Release unnecessary stress from your body.

Like mindfulness does for your mind, the Alexander Technique reduces stress, clears up pain, and improves effectiveness for your body.

It’s body-fulness!

Read More: Alexander Technique Review: A Skeptic’s Take After 10 Classes

💡 Ditch the Gym

Get a naturally fit body and mind.

Go outside to do sprints, jumps, calisthenics, handstands, pull-ups, and partner exercises. Go even when the weather’s shitty. Your mind and body will feel freer than ever.

Read More: Why You Should Ditch the Gym and Work Out Outside

dexa scans and kim lying beside them at body comp imaging

💡 Get Off Your Scale and Get a DEXA Scan

Keep track of your body composition.

Scales cannot distinguish between muscle and fat. DEXA scans can. They’re non-invasive x-rays that accurately measure your body fat, lean mass, and bone density.

What’s extra cool is that it gives you those measurements by body part!

Periodically getting this raw, accurate data on your body’s composition gives you a clearer indication of where you’re heading.

Read More: How a DEXA Body Fat, Muscle, and Bone Scan Can Help You Get Fit

💡 Brush Your Body With a Daily Mobility Routine

Prevent your body from decaying.

Just as you protect your teeth from decay brushing them daily, preserve your body with a daily mobility routine. Moving your body across all its possible ranges of motion for just a few minutes a day will keep you spry and pain-free for decades to come.

As they say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Read More: Brush Your Body With a Daily Mobility Routine

YouTube video

💡 Sleep On the Floor

Realign your spine.

Sleeping on a marginally-padded floor (no pillow needed either) will help your spine realign to its natural position and can help eliminate back pain.

I’ve found it best prepares me to seize the day. Plus, it saves tons of floor space and money on mattresses!

Read More: Sleeping on the Floor: The Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

Me taping my mouth to force myself to nose breath at night

💡 Tape Your Mouth Shut at Night

Force yourself to nose breathe.

We’re designed to breathe through our noses, but modern life (or, in my case, an unfortunately placed parked car I smashed my bike into, bending my nose for good) leads many of us to become mouth breathers. Among other things, mouth breathing can lead to lethargy, dehydration, allergies, and fly swallowing.

Taping your mouth at night is the first and easiest step to returning to the healthier habit of breathing through your nose.

Read More: How to Stop Mouth Breathing and Become a Nose Breather

Unconventional Ideas for Your Diet

water fasting tips cover image of an empty plate and glass of water

💡 Fast

Overcome your obsession with food.

Don’t consume anything but water for days at a time. You’ll realize you don’t need to eat all the time and at certain times of day, give your digestive system a long-overdue and well-deserved chance to rest and recover, and potentially get closer to kicking your hunger habit.

Read More: What to Expect from a 3-Day Fast if You’ve Never Fasted Before

Enjoy food more carnal eating cover image

💡 Try Carnal Eating

Take a hedonistic approach to eating more healthily.

If the whole “mindful eating” concept feels boring, clinical, and dry to you, try treating forking like f**king.

Carnal eating means picking the right partners, getting in the mood, making it meaningful, extracting maximum enjoyment, and doing it well. It’s natural.

Read More: “Carnal Eating”: A Mindful Eating Alternative to Enjoy Food More

How to acquire a taste cover image of me having learned to like black licorice
Me turning my hate for black licorice into a positive passion.

💡 Challenge Your Taste

Retrain your palate.

Treat your sense of taste as a skill than can be molded rather than a set-in-stone genetic trait, and you can improve a huge part of life: eating.

You can teach yourself to acquire a taste for a food you’ve never liked, as I did for black licorice.

You can flip those techniques to condition yourself to dislike an unhealthy food.

And you can improve your overall palate to better appreciate each sip and bite (with the potential adverse side effect of becoming a bit of a snob).

Unconventional Ideas for Your Travels

Be a tourist in your own town cover of a postcard from our hometown of Vancouver

💡 Stay Put

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

Take off your local hat and put on a touristy one to make a memorably novel day or two out of exploring your own backyard.

Based on my experience, these five ingredients can make for a spicy mix:

  1. (Re-)connect with travel companions.
  2. Do something unusual.
  3. Find some funky flavors.
  4. Improvise.
  5. Change your setting.

Read More: The 5 Steps for a Fun Trip as a Tourist in Your Own Town

How many countries have you been to cover image of world map with pins.

💡 Give Up Your Passport Stamp Collection

Stop caring how many countries you’ve visited.

Racking up the number of countries you’ve visited is a lot like accumulating sexual partners. I’m no prude who frowns upon free love, but sleeping around (the world) probably won’t make your life feel any fuller.

So forget hollow goals to visit 50 or 100 countries. Take it slow and go back over and over to countries you love to forge a deeper relationship with them.

Read More: How Many Countries Have You Been To? Maybe Stop Counting

💡 Pack an Extension Cord

Stay plugged in when traveling.

Extension cords always end up coming in handy by helping you reach inconveniently-located outlets, turning one plug into three, and even serving as a rope or clothes hanger when push comes to shove.

Read More: Minimalist Packing List for Men: The Best 57 Items to Take Everywhere

Travel tips and tricks cover of Kim in Jordan

💡 Try Unconventional Route Travel Tips

Experience extraordinary travels.

Put a hole in your bucket lists, learn photography even if you don’t care to, embrace the planning process, always ask for the price first, learn certain phrases rather than general ones in foreign languages… the list of unconventional ideas for travel is too long to include here, so if you’re interested, check out that post.

Read More: The Best Travel Tips and Tricks Our Moms Never Told Us

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About the author

👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on TheZag.com is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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The Zag shares my adventures off of the boring beaten paths of life and ideas for finding your own unfollowable path.