Got any New Year’s Resolutions? More to the point, two weeks into the New Year, are you still keeping your New Year’s Resolutions?
If you resolved this year to significantly improve your quality of life, take a look at Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World. While not the most original idea—Tim Ferris’ runaway success The 4-Hour Workweek covers similar ground, to say nothing of years of “self-help” books—Guillebeau covers the material with a fresh eye and a distinct perspective. Guillebeau, Ferris and others focus on what they call “lifestyle design,” which is not just the art of nonconformity, but of living your best life. Speaking as someone who’s advised people for years to do what you love, I’m inclined to admire that focus.
What I found most appealing was the book’s attention to creating positive contributions to society. Guillebeau provides a definition of “rich” that has as much to do with how you’ll leave society as it does how much money you’ll leave your kids. He repeatedly addresses the topic of “legacy work,” but in a way that comes across as encouraging, not preachy. As he writes:
When the time comes to say goodbye, what memories do you want to have? What would you regret if you hadn’t done it.
As long as what you want causes no harm to others, you never need to apologize for pursuing your own dreams and big ideas.
Maybe it’s just impending middle-age, but I find that compelling.
The book sometimes glosses over some of the “how-to’s” necessary to design your lifestyle and lacks many of the handy action items in The 4-Hour Workweek (to say nothing of Ferris’ wicked sense of humor). But, despite these criticisms, I enjoyed The Art of Non-Conformity immensely. Because, ultimately, the point it makes is sound: your need to act quickly and forcefully in pursuing your goals. The book certainly can’t guarantee all your dreams will come true. But, if it inspires action to achieve those dreams, it will have accomplished a worthy goal. And that is, truly, an art all its own.
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