(JOHN READ THIS) book review: The Art of Non-Conformity

(photo from this nice book website: http://readingbyeugene.com/.)

by Chris Guillebeau

“It is not the decision you make that is the most important; it is the degree of commitment with which you make the decision.” (Quoting Beau Bartlett.)

This book is very similar to the 4-hour Work Week guy’s book: instructions on how to start living the life you want to live. He admittedly takes his blog posts and rework/reorganizes the posts into a book, but it works. The book is good and offers a lot with respect to realizing your dreams.

“Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” (Quoting Barbara Sher, in Wishcraft) I like this idea. Take your dreams seriously, no one else is going to do that.

Somewhere we developed a dichotomy between dreams and reality, making them mutuality exclusive. If you are in a dream, you are by definition not in reality. So how does someone go about starting to live in a dream world? One aspect that keeps me from living my dream is that it seems really selfish and self-centered. My dream is to be a writer, but how does that help anyone? How does that make the world a better place? Which then spirals into the rabbit hole of doom. Guillebeau acknowledges this problem and tackles it straight: just help people. It makes you feel better and the world a better place. Worry about the rest later. Ok.

One thing that drives me crazy is when they tell me they “wish” they could do something I have done. They can/could. I like what Guillebeau says when people say this to him: “They have chosen to prioritize other things above their stated desires.” Priorities. As my friend Maureen points out: life is just a bunch of choices. Make good choices, get good outcomes. Thus if you prioritize the things you really want, those are what you will get. (Naturally, bad luck and illness can get in the way. I don’t deny this.)

Towards the end of the book he advocates a “Top Stop Doing List” rather than a “To Do List.” The idea behind this is that here are lots of things that cut into our time. Cut those things out of your life to achieve the live you want. I would put commuting on our list of things we stopped doing. Of course we have to get to work, but instead of spending an hour in the car every day, we live where we work. Some of you will say this is impossible or impractical. I understand that is what that means is you have chosen to prioritize other things over not commuting. We have not. That is fine. ☺

The book concludes with travel tips. He likes to travel a lot.

One criticism I have of the book happens to be a constant topic of conversation in our home: being a non-conformist is hard. It takes a lot of energy to buck the culture you live in. I don't think he really give the difficulty enough discussion. More on this later though.

Even if it just a restatement of his blog posts, I really liked the book. Lots of life affirming tips to help you lead the life you want.


Bungalow Builder said...

This book sounds great. I love your outlook that your life choices are dictated by your priorities and ultimately, you decide the life you want or don't want. It's very empowering.
You bring up a good point about the difficulty of being non-conformist. I think much of this stems from the metrics that we're taught to measure the success of our lives with - grades in school, salary or status in careers, forward progression toward promotion, big houses, fancy cars... success? If you create your own metrics for what YOU think is success, and remind yourself of what those metrics are, it helps with the difficulty of choosing a "non-conformist" life. Of course, you have to remind yourself of those metrics in the face of outside voices that try to measure your life in more traditional ways. :-)

John Harkin said...

Sounds like a great book. Prioritize what you feel is important to you. Not what someone else deems important. I like that!!