When I learned Chris Guillebeau had written a book, I begged him for an advance copy. In person, Chris is charismatic with extra doses of magnetism, practicality, and kindness thrown into the mix. I imagined his book would be similar (it is) and I would want to carry it with me even after I read it, like a trusted companion (I already do).
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World is hitting bookstores today and is a handbook for anyone who wants to break free of an unfulfilled life. As Chris explains, “It’s your own life, so why not set your own rules. You can do good things for yourself while helping other people at the same time.” It helps you plan a course for a remarkable life, get over the fears and obstacles that are currently in your way, and get started living the life you imagine. It is detailed, plausible, and full of concrete examples.
Chris is obsessed with traveling the world — he’s on a quest to visit every country by April 7, 2013, and has made it to 149 of 192 already — and he explains how he transformed his circumstances to make achieving his non-traditional life possible. The book is full of advice for how to achieve similar ambitions — whatever type of life your heart desires — even if it doesn’t include traveling. In addition to Chris’ first-hand experiences, there are interviews and biographies of more than a dozen others who have bucked the system and lived life on their terms.
At the end of most of the chapters is a “Remember This” section that highlights the major themes in that block of text. At the end of the chapter “Setting the Terms of Your Unconventional Life,” are the following notes that spoke to the unclutterer in me:
- The pathway to world domination, or whatever it is you want to do, begins with clearly understanding what you want to get out of life.
- Once you begin taking your ambitions seriously, you can usually accomplish most things in less time than you initially expected.
- In the end, it’s not all about you. Most of us want a life that leaves a positive impact on others.
- When you start doing what you really want, not everyone will understand. This is okay.
The reason I pursue an uncluttered life is so I have the time, energy, and resources to live remarkably. I don’t want to be weighed down by my stuff; I want to have as much freedom as possible to focus on what matters most to me. Chris’ philosophy is similar, and his book even includes tips for creating a “stop doing” list and suggestions for how to live with 100 things. A key component for living his remarkable life is keeping clutter out of it, and he provides strategies for doing this.
A word of note: If you are not interested in setting your own rules and changing the world (even just a little part of it), this book is not for you. This book speaks directly to people who already have the desire to live in unconventional ways. No pages are used to persuade or convince someone to pursue a non-traditional lifestyle. Either you’re on board from the beginning, or you’re not. In my opinion, this makes the book stronger because it doesn’t waste time preaching to the choir.
If you are interested in living a remarkable life, I highly recommend Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World.