Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

Some times you read the right book just at the right point in your life and then interesting things start to happen to you.  I recently had this occur to me when I borrowed The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.  Chris’s name might be familiar as he has written the online manifesto “A Brief Guide to World Domination” which is the inspiration for the book.

The subtitle of the book is “set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world.” Basically Chris is trying to teach people that you don’t have to just live a conventional life of: get some post secondary, get a job you don’t really like and buy crap you really don’t need and save for a distant retirement.

We far too often in life settle for what we want.  We settle for our jobs, what we do with our time, or how much of a difference we can make in the world.  Chris is trying to teach people in this book how to live a different way where you point your compass to your dream life and actually get there.  He also deals with the common issues that are going to come up from doing this: fear of the change, people saying ‘no’ and generally people not understanding how you really do want to change the world.

He also rightly points out that most people really don’t want to ‘do nothing’, but we often actually done something that we love so we don’t understand how ‘work’ can be an enjoyable thing.  Would you ever really get tired of doing something you love to help others?  Likely a lot more slowly than your current job.

In a nut shell it is basically required reading in my mind for anyone wishing to be retired early as the book might change how you view your current goal of early retirement.  I know it did for me.  You see I have always had this idea that once I’m financially independent that I could then write as much as I want.  Now I realize that I’m approaching the problem in the wrong way.  By aiming to be financially independent first I’m basically making the assumption that I can’t make a living writing, which is really what I’m after.  The problem is that is an assumption that I have made.  What if I can making a modest living at writing?  Would I need to be fully  financially independent? No, I could instead aim for being partly financially independent from my investments and the rest from self-employment income.

So overall I enjoyed the book which was fairly short so you can read through it rather quickly, but working some of the ideas through your mind afterwards might take a little bit longer.

So what’s your dream and why are you not doing it?

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity”

  1. “Living by a different set of rules” is essentially what I/we try to do on a daily basis.

    What has stuck out to me lately is how lonely that road can be. Once people figure out that you don’t live by the same set of rules as everyone else, you notice a distinct shift in how you’re treated.

    As people that are interested in early retirement, becoming financially independent and being self sufficient, has anyone else noticed this? Communities like this are extremely important to me so I know we’re not alone!

  2. Brian your not alone in that fact. I’ve even noticed a subtle shift from people I work with since my book, Free at 45, was published. Up until then people knew I had an interest in money issues, but the majority didn’t know that I planned to retire or career shift by 45. To them the concept is alien and as such people aren’t sure how to treat people like us. So I agree finding communities like this are a lifeline to those that are different from the norm, the real trick is to try and expand that outside of the internet to relationships with people in your community. A typically place to start looking is your local artistic community as they tend to live outside of social norms as well. Good luck and we will be here for you.


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