The Art of Non-Conformity

Especially in Asian countries such as Singapore and Japan, we tend to conform to the mainstream crowd – even if it makes us unhappy, it feels safe. But The Art of Non-Conformity, by popular blogger Chris Guillebeau, urges and inspires us to set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world instead.

The Art of Non-Conformity is more of a self-improvement book though several of the advice dispensed would apply for the working adult as well. It is divided into three sections, The Remarkable Life; Reclaiming the Work; and The Power of Convergence.

He starts off by encouraging us to overcome the fear of going against conformity: "Most remarkable people are not remarkable by nature. Instead, they make a few key choices along the way that helped them overcome their fears."

Rather than being miserable living the ideal lives of others, he wants us to get comfortable with being different from others, set your own rules and stay true to our own honest purpose.

The first step, however, is often the hardest for most: Find out what you want, then plan how to get it. The second would naturally be motivated by a clear goal: Work hard for your success.  

Guillebeau's own non-conformity and creative perspective can be observed from his explanation of why we should prioritise and focus rather than trying everything all at once: "An important principle of life planning is that you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything at the same time. To be able to devote most of your time to projects and activities you enjoy, you'll need to be forceful about dropping a lot of other activities. The best way to stop spending time on unnecessary distractions is to make a "to-stop-doing list". This is better than a to-do list, because it helps you see what's bringing you down."

Also, rather than telling you what you should or should not do, The Art of Non-Conformity guides and encourages you with questions and words of wisdom so that you may set your own rules. The wise man said (a little harshly): "No one else can be responsible for your success or well-being but you. You don't need someone's permission to live your own life."

Not every piece of advice would be applicable for all of us, especially those with family burdens, and some advice may even be considered cliched. But nonetheless, The Art of Non-Conformity offers some true, practical advice for purposeful living.

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