“The Art of Non-Conformity” by Chris Guillebeau

“You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”

What an amazing, liberating idea!

But first, you need to know what you expect out of life. And that’s where “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World” (2010) by Chris Guillebeau can help you “challenge authority and live unconventional, remarkable lives” (page 6).

To get started with your remarkable life, you must be open to new ideas, dissatisfied with the status quo, willing to take personal responsibility, and willing to work hard. As Guillebeau reminds us, “No one else can be responsible for your success or well-being but you” (page 88).

The book is divided into three sections that stress a life of personal freedom and service:

* The Remarkable Life is about figuring out what you really want to get out of life, taking a leap of faith, overcoming your fears, and changing the rules of the game;

* Reclaiming Work is about finding better work, being committed to learning, recruiting a small army of supporters, consciously spending money on the things you value, and investing in others; and

* The Power of Convergence is about eliminating the unnecessary, welcoming a life of abundance, and starting your legacy now to make a lasting impact on the world.

Don’t be discouraged by people who criticize you for being “unreasonable,” “unrealistic,” or “impractical.” Remember that “Innovation comes from entrepreneurs and others who are willing to accept risk and try new things. Improvements in social justice come from those who question authority,” (page 222).

“The Art of Non-Conformity” is enthusiastic, creative, and encouraging, written with an honest, straightforward style. The chapters are succinct, with personal stories, anecdotes, and quotes. I completely agree with Guillebeau’s emphasis on life experiences, though I couldn’t quite relate to his extreme fervor for travel.

The book challenged me to take a look at my life. I felt energized. I took some small, first steps: I wrote a “life list,” thinking about the things I want to do and accomplish. I started eliminating the unnecessary (I set aside bags of clothes and household items to donate). I started investing more in others (I answered two micro-loan requests on Kiva.org, which isn’t about charity – it’s about helping people help themselves).

For more information and resources, visit www.chrisguillebeau.com or facebook.com/artofnonconformity.

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