Three Keys to an Unconventional Life – Part 1 in a Series

Keys to an Unconventional Life

This is part 1 in a series of posts – once you’re done, be sure to check out part 2 and part 3.


Something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, almost without realizing it until a couple years ago, is the idea of living an unconventional life – a life that breaks out of the mold, is out of the ordinary, a life that will make a hell of a memoir down the road, filled with stories that will captivate friends, family, and strangers alike.


And I recently realized that my attraction to this kind of life is a huge part of the reason I love entrepreneurship. While of course I like the idea of building my own business and legacy, being my own boss, and having more control over my income, I’m also just hopelessly addicted to the stories behind successful solopreneurs.


I couldn’t care less about start-ups created in the conventional, business-school-dream-come-true kind of way – ones that grow into massive global corporations, or start off with huge amounts of investment capital and then get grown quickly and sold off to another company, or ones that scale super-fast in order to have a blockbuster IPO. Yawn.


Solopreneurship is what I’ve always been most interested in, and I think a lot of the attraction has to do with the people doing it and the stories of their lives. Working from home, having a flexible schedule, being around for their kids, presenting at conferences, publishing their stories, having family adventures, traveling, and building memorable, unique lives…this is what I love to hear about, and it’s everything that I want for my family.


And it’s funny to think that it’s taken me this long to realize that my interest in entrepreneurship is tied so closely with the idea of an unconventional life, although I guess it’s always been there in the back of my mind. When I sent out an email to my corporate colleagues last summer, telling them that I was leaving my job after seven years, here’s what I said:


“More than a career change, this will be a much-needed lifestyle change. I’m looking forward to pursuing several artistic and personal interests, as well as spending more time with my family, living a life of creativity, passion, entrepreneurship and adventure.”


So even then, I knew what was in my heart, it just took me a while to really GET that this is the driving force behind my starting Brave New Biz – my desire to live an uncommon life.


And what does that kind of life look like? For me, the three keys to living an unconventional life are adventure, being brave, and creativity.


The First Key: Adventure


ad · ven · ture


1. an unusual and exciting, possibly hazardous, experience or activity

2. an undertaking of a questionable nature with an uncertain outcome

Adventure often implies something on a grand scale, but in reality, it can be big or small or anywhere in between. The key is to incorporate adventure into our lives in ways that fall all along that spectrum – from the tiny, everyday ones to the bigger, life-altering ones.


An everyday adventure could be something as simple as driving down a street that you pass by all the time, always wondering what’s down that road, or maybe trying a cuisine you’ve never had before, like Vietnamese or Egyptian – in other words, going off the beaten path and discovering something new.


Now, while going down an unknown street may be an unusual experience with an uncertain outcome, let’s be frank: it’s probably not going to be all that exciting or risky. But still, it’s there on the spectrum of adventure because it’s something out of the ordinary.


Big, major, life-altering adventures could be things like quitting your corporate job, converting a school bus into your family’s home, moving to Alaska, or traveling around the world.


The point of adventure is to keep introducing new experiences into your life, avoiding the rut of routine. Don’t get me wrong – I love routines and I’m a creature of habit by nature. But breaking out of them once in a while is what makes me feel like I’m actually experiencing life, rather than just plodding through it.


How a Bucket List Helps

This is why I made up my bucket list a few years ago – it’s basically a list of all the adventures I want to experience, from tiny to huge and everywhere in between. Items I’ve checked off so far include getting a tattoo (two, actually), going skydiving, giving birth without drugs, quitting my corporate job, joining a performing chorus, and getting a paid singing gig. Others I’m working on include starting my own business, going paragliding, visiting a long list of different countries, and living abroad.


But I also include simpler items, like watching certain classic films that I’ve never seen, such as Citizen Kane and It’s a Wonderful Life (inexcusable, I know!), planting a vegetable garden, and flying a kite with my kids.


The point is simply to do the things that we dream about, rather than relegating them to daydreams or “someday”. Not only are a lot of these things a bit out of the ordinary themselves – most people don’t go paragliding every day – but also, listening to your heart and following your dreams, no matter how big or small, is itself something out of the norm.


Because really, how many people actually do the things they say they want to do? Not many.


I want to be one who does.


So that’s the first key to living an unconventional life – adventure! In parts 2 and 3, I’ll dig into the other two – being brave and creativity.


In the meantime, I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on adventure or living unconventionally!

Do you seek to live a life of non-conformity? Does it involve adventure? What’s your definition of that word? Scroll down and share below in the comments!

Photo ©  | Dreamstime.com

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  1. Dick Hayden

    I think you’re right, Jenn! The difficulty for older people is that they were raised in a culture that emphasized security – be it financial or otherwise – so many people have that as their underlying goal, even if it’s not actually stated. On the flip side, though, if a person does achieve a comfortable degree of security, THEN busting out of routines and looking for adventures or checking off bucket-list items becomes more feasible FOR THEM!

    1. Jenn

      Yes, I think the need for security is always there, but the catch is that it’s harder to come by these days in the way we got used to as a society – i.e. long-term employment with one company. Too many companies are downsizing and/or eliminating more and more benefits, so traditional employment just isn’t 100% secure anymore, definitely not as safe as it used to be. What a lot of people are finding out – and which I hope to prove myself at some point! :) – is that relying on yourself for your income, by building up a small, sustainable business that you love, can often turn out to be more secure (not to mention rewarding) than working for “the man”. That’s the kind of security I want, for sure – and you’re right, that’s the kind that will allow me to get working on some of those other bucket list items! :)

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!! :)

  2. Nicole

    Jenn, I loved this post! In hearing about all of your adventures so far (SOME day I’ll get the courage to get a tattoo and quit my 11-year job!) you inspire me to think outside the box. I, too, am a creature of habit….I like my lists, my structure, my routine (strip the bed and change the sheets every Saturday morning religiously)….at the same time, it can be EXHILERATING to break out of that! Here’s a minor example, I love my sleep and my nice warm bed (especially lately since it’s FREEZING in Syracuse) but I decided to help my hubby lose some weight and decided to start getting up and making him a protein-filled breakfast…..my hubby usually leaves for work between 5:00-6:00–YUCK! And yet, I’ve dragged my butt out of bed and I’ve stuck to it and I feel GREAT! Most times, I don’t go back to bed and I find all kinds of ways to be productive before I even get to work. =) Moving on, I love what you said about making memories to share…..the days can be long but the years are short and fly by at lightening speed….the time is NOW to go on an adventure…not dream about it, talk about, research about it, think about it…but DO IT! Thanks for continuing to fuel me!

    1. Jenn

      Love it, Nic!!! So glad to know my words are motivating you! Hmmm, “the days are long, but the years are short”…I think a wise woman named Gretchen Rubin wrote that, have you ever read her book “The Happiness Project”??? ;)

  3. Nicole

    “Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down. ”
    Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958);
    Inventor, engineer

    1. Jenn

      I like it!! Thanks, I needed these words! :)

  4. Farnoosh Brock

    Love this post, Jenn, because I live and breathe this lifestyle now and have since I resigned in May 2011 and it is precisely the life I was meant to live. Knowing you, I can see how it can fit you like a glove. Entrepreneurship IS the way to creativity and most unconventional living. I feel the same about the other start-ups – those stories do not fascinate me as the single person building on a dream (that may grow into amazing proportions too but definitely without the startup capital that makes it a little easier because whenever you are playing with other people’s money, things change. I love to hear you continue this direction – it gives you a much wider focus for the blog and brings out more of YOU into your brand!

    1. Jenn

      Thanks, Farnoosh!! Yours is definitely one of the stories that continues to inspire me and inform the kinds of things I’m thinking and writing about. I love hearing about all your success, and especially this latest chapter with you hiring Andy away from his corporate gig too. You guys are the poster children for unconventional living through entrepreneurship! :)

      Thanks for confirming that you can see me in this kind of lifestyle too…sometimes I get bogged down in self-doubt and wonder if I’ve made the right decisions so far. But I really do want to keep going, and want my story to have that level of success too…I’m still working on figuring it all out (I have a feeling that’s a never-ending road, huh?) but I feel like I’m making progress…slowly but surely…!

      Thanks for stopping by and for your wonderful support as always! So nice to see you here!

      1. Farnoosh Brock

        It takes time and a LOT of personal growth to get past the initial not-so-great-successes and lessons and come out on the other side. But if you have chosen the path, there is no other way so you just have to keep going, Jenn -and more than that, you have to believe!

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