Posted in Books, Life, Philosophy

Books I’ve Read: The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau


Another one of the names that continuously comes up as I head down the rabbit hole of personal growth is Chris Guillebeau. I had already stumbled upon his podcast, Side Hustle School, and started giving that a listen. But then, as so often seems to happen, he ended up on several other podcasts that I listen to. He also happens to have a blog. And has written several books. And traveled to all 193 countries. He’s a pretty interesting guy.

I started with the book that shares the title of his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, which my parents had gotten for me. I finished it in a workweek.

IMG_3807The book is compelling, not just because the author could make a run for Most Interesting Man in the World, but because he really digs into the reasons why people say that living a life full of adventure and passion and all those things we really want is impossible, even when others (most notably, in this case, the author) are actually doing it.

We’re all conditioned to follow certain paths, make certain choices, and live our lives a certain. Generally, that means graduating high school, graduating from college, getting a job, getting married and raising a family, and retiring at 65. This is changing slightly, in that college may turn into straight into the workforce or taking a gap year, and the job will likely change many times, and a family has many definitions. And retirement… we’ll save that for another time. But for the most part, you go to school, get a job, have a family, work for 40 years, then retire. This may be punctuated by a few short vacations here and there and

Where’s the fun? Where’s the adventure? Why are we sitting in a cubicle hoping for a few days, weeks if we’re lucky, of vacation each year when there are people who are literally living their dream lives– whether that be creating something they love or traveling the world or even just switching to a job they’re truly passionate about?

As mentioned above, we’re all conditioned to think that life is lived in only one way– born, schooled, worked, familied, dead. In reality, there are infinite possibilities, and this book explores questions to ask, thoughts to ponder, and stories to analyze not only for hope but also actionable items to start living a life that’s fun and fulfilling and not just paying the bills. To do so, we have to overcome the programming, and more importantly, the fear that comes with living differently.

Maybe you aren’t ready to drop everything and change your trajectory completely; that’s a lot to ask right away. But you can start with questioning assumptions, like whether college is actually going to put you on the trajectory you want; if getting the “good, stable job” will really be the best long-term play; and why you couldn’t do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, excuses and perceived social/professional consequences be damned. And if you’re not sure where to start, picking up a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity may help point you in the right direction.