The Power of Being Unreasonable

What do you want in life?

That’s one of my favorite questions. The way you answer it says a lot about you.

Maybe you think, “I just want to be happy.” That’s a good goal. Vague, but achievable. Maybe a little boring. It’s probably not the whole story.

But what if I asked you to be unreasonable?

Would that change your answer?

If I think about what I really want, it’s to have a life filled with travel and adventure, a business that buys me freedom and excites me, and to spend my time with great people.

But even that is a bit safe. In a lot of ways, I already have that. I’m 29. Does that mean I’m done? Should I stop and just enjoy this?


But what if you suck at being idle? If the idea of “settling” scares the shit out of you?

What if you believe life has more to offer?

I want to know what your crazy dreams are. Your ridiculous fantasy life. Think about it. The crazier the better.

It’s worth getting in touch with that stuff. Maybe you can’t have it all, but what if you could have even little bits and pieces of it? How would that change your life?

Quit Being So Damn Realistic!

As kids, we’re taught to dream big.

Adult: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Kid: “An astronaut.”

No kid ever says they want to be an HR manager at a software company, or work in medical device sales. No offense if that’s what you do, but I bet you had a different dream when you were 7. Before someone told you to be reasonable.

That kid who wanted to be an astronaut… maybe it was you. Maybe someone told you to be realistic and think a little bit more inside the box, bring you back down to earth (wow, worst pun ever!).

Most kids don’t grow up to be astronauts, but some do! More than 500 unreasonable people have been to space.

So, let’s try that again…

Adult: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Unreasonable Kid: “An astronaut.”
Adult: “Be reasonable.”
Unreasonable Kid: “Fuck you. I’m going to space!”

Click to Tweet, if you dare.

(Astronauts, please announce yourself in the comments.) :)

Be Unreasonable

Being reasonable and realistic are fine, but they’re also a self-made prison for your dreams. No one ever changed the world by being reasonable. People change the world when they dare to dream.

Think about your heroes. Are they reasonable? Reasonably average people? I doubt it. I bet they’re dreamers.

MLK? Dreamer. Steve Jobs? Crazy person, and dreamer. Michael Jordan? Average guy. Dreamer.

Being reasonable is a guaranteed path to averageness. – Tweet That

Being unreasonable might not always work out; but it’s better to take a shot at your dreams than to never know what you could have been.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

My Old Dream is My Current Reality

When I was in high school, my friends and I were talking about what we wanted to do in our careers. One buddy wanted to be a stock broker, one a chemist, one a history teacher. I didn’t know the name for what I wanted to do for a living, but I remember my dream really clearly.

I wanted to sit in a room and have really smart people come talk to me about their amazing ideas. I wanted to get paid to make those ideas better, and to make them happen. I wanted to get paid to think.

I didn’t actually know whether that was a real job that people did. It was just an idea I made up.

Oddly, that’s exactly how I make a living today. I advise awesome entrepreneurs about how to make their startups work better, and how to take an idea and make it happen. I’ve been doing it for 10 years.

It seemed unreasonable when I was 15 because that job didn’t have a name. But if you give your dreams a chance, and assume something is possible, sometimes it works out.

That’s the key, to try something (even if it seems impossible) with an open mind. Tell yourself it’s an experiment and you can’t fail.

So, what do you really want?

I want to know what you really want. Be unreasonable about it.

I’ll go first.

  • I want to help people live the life they’ve always wanted.
  • I want to help you change your habits.
  • I want to convince you to try something new, and have fun with it.
  • I want to turn the Monthly Experiments Project into a movement that matters.
  • I want to make a living by doing personal experiments and sharing what I learn.
  • I want to write a book (someday).
  • I want to never stop learning.
  • I want to have amazing adventures.
  • I want to be extremely fit and healthy.
  • I want to spend random Wednesday afternoons in the park, laughing with friends over a bottle of wine.
  • I want my average day to be unreasonably amazing, and I want to help other people have the same.

Maybe I won’t accomplish all those things, and that’s ok. If I even come close, I’ll be thrilled. So, I’m still going to try. One experiment at a time.

How about you?

Leave your completely unreasonable dream in the comments below. Then let’s see if you can make it happen, one piece at a time.

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  1. John,
    I want to make a living by writing.
    I don’t want to get rich – just make enough to live where I want and not have to punch somebody else’s time clock any more.
    I never want to attend another meeting where the agenda is driven by anal-retentive cubicle monkeys.
    I want to surround myself with people who dream and do big things – not those who accept mediocrity.
    I want my job to be something that enhances my time with my family – not steals it from me.
    I want to live on a ranch where I cannot see or hear my nearest neighbors.
    I want to have the freedom to travel when and where I want – with my family.
    I want to finish this list – but I have to go to work… arrrrggghh…

  2. Oh man I can relate. And then when you are out there in lala land, having successfully hacked the system and people start to call you smart/lucky/whatever… how do you motivate yourself to something even more audacious? I have no fucking clue.

  3. But John, you already helped me get what I really want: to be a writer again.

    Check, done, accomplished.

    I’m going to expand by seconding MP’s point, “I want to make a living by writing.”

    That’s up next.

  4. Hi John!

    I like your post and especially the “Fuck you. I’m going to space!” stuff, yeah :)
    Of course I tweeted it.

    I always found it difficult to stay on a “normal job” so 7 years ago I left a very good job, and I’m my own boss since.

    Things have been more difficult than planned (especially about time management, as I also wanted to have a family, and had 3 kids born 2007, 2009, 2010), thus leading to less work done (I work only when they sleep at night lol), and less income, which hit hard.

    but well, now I want to stop being reasonable, and dream big yeah, so after the first focus about an health issue on one of my family member, I long for :
    - financial freedom for me and my family
    - allow for travels during all school holidays, and show the cultural richness of our world to my kids
    - meeting friends from a lot of various places and cultures in the world and learn from them. AND SHARE, thus it’s useful to others too

    ok, cliché, but I believe that more knowledge of each others leads to peace

    one of my online projects gather all that, and I’m happy to dream big about it.

    now on a more personal side :
    - I would like we are able to buy a big house with a big garden (and that’s veeeery expensive over here),
    - have our own music studio in the basement.
    - be part of “religious obscurantism” reduction.

    Thank you for this great post John!
    Talk to you soon!

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