Right after Christmas, I always get into a total clean-out, organize, evaluate my life mode. I have a primal urge to clean out drawers, get rid of stuff we don’t use, and create schedules. As part of the 2014 version of this, I went through my Amazon wish lists* and did a major purge in all categories except one (Mental Health – 61 books – it was too much to tackle at the time). My process went something like this:
- Do I still want to read it? No – delete; Yes – next step…
- Do they have it at the library? No – keep in wish list; Yes – remove from wishlist and add to Evernote list of books to read with information about where I can get the book.
I was excited to learn that a handful of books were available to borrow in Kindle format. I read more books on the Kindle, because it’s what I use when I’m on the treadmill, so I’m always looking for ways to keep my Kindle stocked.
All that is to say, that I was thrilled to learn that Chris Guillebeau’s first book, The Art of Non-Conformity, was available to borrow for my Kindle. Chris belongs to a group of talented bloggers who have figured out how to make a living on their writing. But beyond that, he’s done some other remarkable things, such as visit every country in the world (wow!).
This book is really about waking up, figuring out what you want to do with your life, and making it happen. Sounds simple, right? Actually, it’s not that hard if you start out this way. That’s why I encourage young people to embrace simple living right away. “You’ll have so many more choices,” I tell them. Once you’re stuck with a mortgage, credit card debt, and expensive cars, non-conforming is more difficult, but by no means impossible.
Chris’ book inspired me to aim higher and get serious about my goals. I would love to write for a living, but keep thinking that I’ll have to wait until we pay off the mortgage in thirteen years. Maybe not. My resolve after reading this book is to continue to pare down the non-essential so that I can focus on great work, or “legacy work.” Chris calls this the “to-stop-doing list,” and I’ve been making these at least yearly for the past several years. However, this time, I need to be more brutal and not worry as much about what people think or who I’ll offend.
To find your quest, Chris suggests answering two questions:
- What do you really want to get out of life?
- What can you offer the world that no one else can?
Powerful questions. I’d like to know your answers!
As a writer, I was also inspired by Chris’ 1,000 words/day standard for measuring his “most important work.” As I’ve been in the trenches of editing Her Lost Year, I’ve been slacking off on writing. 1,000 words/day might be a bit ambitious for me, but 500 should be doable (this post is already 500+ words).
Finally, throughout the book is woven a thread of compassion and social justice, which I love. Life is not worth living unless we are contributing to making the world a better place. Chris has figured this out and now he spends his time helping others figure out their own paths of adventure, freedom, and service. I admire that.
I’ll leave you with this great quote from the book:
“Unreasonable,” “unrealistic,” and “impractical” are all words used to marginalize a person and idea that fails to conform with conventionally expected standards. My response is that the world needs more people who fail to conform and refuse to settle.
*Due to my next, super-secret book project, I will be weaning myself off of Amazon, so the clean-out was also in preparation for that.
P.S. Check out my Kickstarter updates for details on the progress of Her Lost Year.