Art of Non-Conformity

I’ve always been someone who strives to be different, stand out, and be unique. Back when I had my very own drab cubicle walls I tried to decorate them to make them less gray, sad, and boring. I had a small coral colored card I always hung next to my computer monitor that simply read:

“Conform and Be Dull”

Yet the irony was I was staying in a job I didn’t love, depriving myself of my real passions so that I could simply be like everyone else and fit in. Fit into my company, fit into New York City, fit into my parent’s expectations, and ultimately fit into society; my life was all about conforming.

As you read in Steve’s post “Notes from a Briefcase” earlier this week, over the last 4 years I have broken out of that life of conformity and really followed my passions. And guess what – I’m surviving, and happier than ever. Steve also is happy doing his corporate job which takes him all over the world, but provides him a regular paycheck as well as stimulates him. Everyone has different things which make them happy, but the key is – live the life YOU want.

AONC Book SigningI stumbled upon Chris Guillebeau’s blog a few years ago; he writes on unconventional strategies for life, work, and travel. He espouses the message of ‘you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to’ and ‘work should be fun and meaningful’. I felt as if he had been eavesdropping on my inner thoughts and desires. In many ways it speaks to the Briefcase to Backpack mentality; you don’t have to defer your desires and wanderlust until retirement, why not set your own rules and put career break in your vocabulary. I signed up for his newsletter and have been following him ever since.

Chris recently moved beyond bits and bytes and became an author; his book The Art of Non-Conformity was released in September. The book goes into more detail on how you can go about setting your own path, your own rules, and find your purpose in your career and life. It covers the idea that career and life don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Sure – that’s easy to say; we all strive to spend our time doing things we love, but something stops us from doing that; normally it’s the expectations of others and our own desire to conform.

For those whose interest is peaked by the idea of getting off the merry-go-round of conformity, this book will fuel your desires, challenge your way of thinking, and provide you some concrete steps to living the life you want. Regardless whether those ‘wants’ include a career break, a change in employment, travel, or giving back – it will help you take a hard look at your values.

The Art of Non-ConformitySpecifically, the book covers:

  • Creative self-employment
  • Career independence
  • Radical goal-setting
  • Contrarian travel
  • Breaking through the fears of living unconventionally
  • How to connect with the people you need, and
  • How to handle the critics.

I personally loved the chapter on “Smashing Through the Brick Wall of Fear”; so many of us who are considering career breaks can find inspiration in it. Just consider this:

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
—Elbert Hubbard

Are you paralyzed by fear, is it keeping you from your career break dreams?

I also appreciated the chapter on “The Personal Finance Journey” which really examines what happiness costs. It looks at life experiences vs. possessions; a good exercise as you may be wondering how to overcome the financial hurdles of a career break.

Some may call it a self-help book, but I call it a self-empowerment book. If you are looking for a little push, or looking to connect with other non-conformists, the book provides inspiration and will challenge the way you look at the world. I particularly like it for the want-to-be career breakers out there. It may be the kindle you need to start your fire and dust off your passport.

Have a highlighter/pen/notepad ready when you read it; I found myself marking the book as I read through it sparking my own thoughts and ideas.

If you’d like to learn more about Chris Guillebeau– check out his website. Chris not only authors books and blogs, he has created a number of online products and kits around travel and self employment, the Unconventional Guides, that I personally own and use daily! The Empire Building Kit has been one of the tools we’ve used to actually build the career break empire here on Briefcase to Backpack! To learn more about it, you can read my review on Ottsworld.

As Chris says…”Your legacy starts now.” What will yours look like?

Other comments

4 Comments on "Art of Non-Conformity"

  1. Alexis Grant on Wed, 27th Oct 2010 9:38 am 

    I’m with you on this one — Loved Chris’ book. I raved about it on my blog as well! Like your take on it.

  2. Chris Guillebeau on Wed, 27th Oct 2010 3:20 pm 

    Hey thanks, Sherry! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. All across the country I’ve been meeting up with Meet-Plan-Go folks, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where you guys take the project in 2011 and beyond.

    Yours in World Domination,


  3. Unique Holiday Gift List for Travelers | Ottsworld Travel Experiences on Thu, 2nd Dec 2010 3:41 am 

    […] light and it might just provide the necessary inspiration to help you travel. You can read my full review of the book here. Product Details: Art of Non-Conformity by Chris […]

  4. Career Break Tipping Point | Ottsworld Travel Experiences on Thu, 2nd Jun 2011 6:01 am 

    […] Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit.  A conference all about starting movements and embracing the idea of not conforming to society’s expectations.   In addition, I’m sitting here next to my Career Break Movement business partner, the […]

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