The Art of Non-Conformity, authored and published by Chris Guillebeau, is a home for remarkable people of all kinds. If you've ever felt like there must be more to life, the site is for you.The purpose of AONC is to share the story of how to change the world by achieving personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs.
You probably know the song, the one that borrows its lyrics from the book of Ecclesiastes: to every thing, there is a season for every activity under the heavens.
Seasons have been on my mind lately, as I’ve been transitioning from my busiest month of the year into a time of more focused creative work. I’m grateful for both of these seasons—I wouldn’t want to choose between them—but my life and work in each of them feels very different.
In my creative work season, I’m working on a new book and I take joy in writing every day. I’m able to exercise more and feel less stressed about being behind on a million things. So is this fundamentally better?
I don’t think so. Because last month I visited 14 cities, speaking to readers and the media about 100 SIDE HUSTLES—and then I hosted a weeklong event in Portland for 1,000 people. All of that was fun, too. Almost every day I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to do this! I feel so fortunate.”
The challenge comes if you try to apply the same rules of order or general expectations to each season.
I still exercised every day during the busy month, and I was proud to keep up my streak (118 days in a row at the time I’m writing this). But aside from a few long runs on Sundays, that exercise was mostly “maintenance mode.” There were plenty of days when I traveled much of the day and had to scramble to get to the gym for a quick workout before my evening event.
Now I’m back to being active at least two hours a day, running, biking, taking HIIT and yoga classes, working with a trainer twice a week, and so on. It feels good.
Similarly, if I expected myself to be able to write 1,000 words a day during the busy month, that would not have gone well. It was all I could do to record the daily podcast and stay afloat in general.
I’m sometimes asked to advise people on “what they should do,” and I usually find this to be the wrong question. Or maybe it’s not the wrong question, but it would be wrong for me to answer it.
Most answers are not universal. My experience is different from yours; your life is your own. Furthermore, even if there are qualitatively good answers to the “what should you do with your life” questions, those answers may vary depending on season and circumstance.
What I mean is this: the best course of action to take now may not be the best one tomorrow.
Here’s a practical example. One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is the right time to quit my job?” (What the person usually means is “I hate my job; should I quit right now?”)
And I think, well, who am I to say! But to think about it in terms of those seasons: if you’re young, and your job sucks, why should you bother staying there? The cost of walking away is likely to be relatively low.
In fact, the real risk is to end up wasting the prime of your life doing something you don’t enjoy.
But if you’re a bit older, perhaps with a family, a mortgage, or other responsibilities that adult life brings, the answer might be different. You might need to be more strategic, build an off-ramp, keep a lookout for other options—but all without walking away immediately.
This isn’t to say that every young person should quit their job tomorrow, and everyone else should remain stuck forever in a job that sucks. It just means that there are seasons. To every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season. To every time, there is a purpose.
Everything is temporary. What matters to you in this season?
1. The first part of my tour schedule is now online!
I’m incredibly excited to announce that the first 12 cities of my Side Hustle tour are now finalized!
Well, mostly—we’re still working out a few scheduling things. But I didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer … the tour starts next month!
If you’ve never been to one of my book events before, know that they are a lot of fun. Each stop is both interactive and introvert-friendly. You’ll learn something, we’ll have a chance to talk, and you’ll also meet a lot of other awesome people.
This is my most popular book in five years, with more than 75,000 copies sold in the U.S. and a dozen foreign translations published so far.
Here’s how my publisher describes it:
“The author of the New York Times Bestseller THE $100 STARTUP, shows how to launch a profitable side hustle in just 27 days.
To some, the idea of quitting their day job to start a business is exhilarating. For others, it’s terrifying. After all, a job that produces a steady paycheck can be difficult to give up.
But in a time when businesses have so little loyalty to employees that the very notion of “job security” has become a punchline, wouldn’t it be great to have an additional source of income to fall back on? And wouldn’t it be great to make that happen without leaving your day job?
Enter the Side Hustle. Based on detailed information from hundreds of case studies, Chris Guillebeau provides a step-by-step guide that anyone can use to create and launch a profitable project in less than a month. Designed for the busy and impatient, this plan will have you generating income immediately, without the risk of throwing yourself head first into the world of entrepreneurship.
Whether you just want to make some extra money, or start something that may end up replacing your day job entirely, the side hustle is the new job security. When you generate income from multiple sources, it gives you options, and in today’s world, options aren’t just nice to have: they’re essential.
You don’t need entrepreneurial experience to launch a profitable side hustle. You don’t need a business degree, know how to code, or be an expert marketer. And you certainly don’t need employees or investors. With this book as your guide, anyone can learn to build a fast track to freedom.
In 2018 I went on a tour to meet readers in 30 cities and talk about the book. It was a wonderful experience and I’d love to do it again… but until that’s possible, now you can get the book for just $1.99. At that price, you may want to add it to your digital library even if you have the printed version.
Note to international readers: because of how the publishing world works, this promotion is intended for readers in the U.S. and Canada (sorry). In some cases you may be able to purchase from the U.S. version of Amazon or another site, depending on how your settings are configured.
For much of the next week I’ll be working only half-time while I consider some of my successes, failures, and lessons learned from 2018.
But Wait, You Can Do This Too!
My favorite part about the review is that it brings a degree of order to my multi-faceted life and career, which consists of many different projects and roles. My second favorite part is seeing what everyone else comes up with.
Over the years, many of our readers have conducted their own Annual Reviews, frequently sharing their lessons with others on blogs, social media, or just with friends and families. A whole cottage industry of other review outlines, resources, and manifestos has sprung up, which is great to see.
3. Before doing anything else, make two lists consisting of a) what went well and b) what didn’t go well this year
4. You can skip ahead to the goal-setting part of the review if you want—but it’s also good to space it out a little. That’s why I do mine over the course of about four or five days, working on it a couple hours each day
Revised Spreadsheet Template (Download for Free)
For the whole eight nine ten! years I’ve used the same simple spreadsheet to set goals in various life categories. It’s a very basic tool. It won’t win any design awards, but it will help you to think more clearly about your life, which is probably more important.
We’ve recently tweaked the formatting and added a few more data points, so be sure you have the current version:
You might wonder whether a spreadsheet is sufficient to truly devise what matters to you and plan your life accordingly. This is a valid concern—we first need to ensure that our goals match up with our values and overall vision.
No amount of goal-setting will help if you’re pursuing the wrong goals. However, I do believe (strongly!) that being specific about our intentions and tying them to measurable milestones is good for us.
If you haven’t done it before, give it a try. And if the template structure doesn’t work for you, don’t hesitate to modify it however it serves you best.
For 8 years, we’ve brought together amazing and remarkable people from all over the world for a summer gathering known as the World Domination Summit (WDS). Over 1000 people from over 30+ countries will travel to beautiful Portland, Oregon to discuss, “how can we live a remarkable life in a conventional world.”
At WDS, each attendee creates their own personalized schedule using our own mobile app to take part in attendee led-meetups, fun activities and adventures, powerful keynotes, and unforgettable parties.
We’re doing it again next summer, and if you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to attend, now is the time. There are only two years of WDS remaining!
If you’re new to WDS, take a peek at this quick recap of this past year’s event (2018):
The best part of WDS is the community and you. Every year is new and everyone that attends plays a big part in helping to create the overall experience. Whether this is your 1st WDS or 9th(!), you’re guaranteed to learn something new, have lots of fun, make great connections, and join an amazing global community of adventurers.
Want to be part of the fun next summer? I’d love to see you there!
For the past eight years, I’ve worked with a small team to produce an annual celebration called the World Domination Summit. It’s one of the few things I’ve made that holds up over time. Every year we all end the weekend feeling exhausted, yet grateful.
A lot of people have asked how to watch the talks from our main stage keynotes. Since year one, we’ve had a bunch of them online… but never before on YouTube!
Well, guess what: now whenever you’re watching cat videos or teenage makeup videos, you can also check out keynotes from some of our most popular speakers.
I’ve had a few people write in to ask me if I’ve stopped blogging. Nope—but I’m sorry! It sure looks that way.
I’ve just been on hiatus while writing a new book. I’ll tell you about it soon, and I very much look forward to getting back to regular posts here. (In the meantime, the daily podcast continues.)
For now, I thought I’d pop up and express something that’s been on my mind. Every now and then, I see a post offering “Advice for My Younger Self,” and I’ve been asked to share mine in interviews from time to time.
I’ve been going to therapy for more than two years now, and one of the models I’ve explored is the concept of a younger version of ourselves remaining part of us as we age. This younger self needs to be cared for, since it’s not able to do so on its own, and it can influence our adult decisions in all sorts of ways.
The question I’ve learned to ask, when working through various issues, is, “What is six-year-old Chris feeling right now?” It’s an interesting practice, at least to someone like me who doesn’t naturally think this way.
If I could go back in time to talk to a younger Chris, though, I’m not sure it would be the six-year-old version. I think it would be a version somewhere in the 11-14 age range.
And I think I would say just three things, besides “Put all your money in this thing called Bitcoin whenever it comes out.”
Those things would be:
1. It’s going to be okay.
This is hard to believe right now, but it’s true.
You’re very afraid much of the time now. You don’t like yourself and don’t see an end to what seems like impossible situations. Guess what: there will be an end to those situations. And one day you’ll be proud of getting through them. If you believe nothing else, believe this.
Hold on for one more day, just like you hear in the Wilson Phillips song that is currently playing on the radio all the time.
2. Don’t allow your rebellious spirit to be broken.
It’s there for a reason and will serve you well for decades to come. Sure, there might be times when “reining it in” is the better option. But there will be many other times when your inclination to look for alternatives, pursue a different path, or even just cause trouble will end up being the far better choice.
Therefore, when in doubt—think and act for yourself. Don’t be afraid to push against rules that don’t make sense or institutions that exist merely to enrich themselves. If anything, push harder.
3. Don’t worry about the things you aren’t good at.
In fact, the more you try to improve at things you have no interest in but think you are supposed to be good at, the more frustrated you will become. Striving to become unremarkably average will get you nowhere you want to go.
On the other hand, what will matter is that you hold fast to what you believe in, make it through the difficult times, and find your own way.
If you focus on the gifting you have, your ability to persevere, and the “don’t ever count him out” quality that you cultivate and cherish, you’ll become much stronger. This will be your north star. Follow it whenever you get off course.
Oh, and here’s some bonus advice, for twelve-year-old Chris and anyone else out there who identifies with him: try to worry less about what other people think of you. You’ll be much more successful, effective, and happier when you don’t.
I went to see the Mr. Rogers movie last week (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor”) and found it as heartwarming and uplifting as I expected.
If you’re able to see it in a theatre, don’t hesitate. At the screening I attended, everyone applauded at the end. This doesn’t happen much in Portland, Oregon. It felt like we were on a flight landing in Miami from Central America (it’s a thing).
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? - Official Trailer [HD] - In Select Theaters June 8 - YouTube
Afterwards I stumbled on an article that details the level of precision that Fred Rogers put into editing the language used on his show. The man was relentlessly focused on connecting with children. He would go back and edit previous episodes if he found they no longer stood up, or if language had changed and required an update.
The article shows how a simple sentence would be deconstructed over and over:
1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street.
2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.
3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, Ask your parents where it is safe to play.
4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.
5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.
6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.
7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.
8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.
9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.
I so admire the precision of this work. When I write a major talk—the kind I’ll give over and over in a dozen or more cities—I try to think a lot about the words I use, the examples I provide, and so on. Of course, I’m no Fred Rogers. But the point is every word, every sentence, and every inflection matters. Language matters!
To give oneself so fully to something, and then do it over and over again every single day for decades… it’s no wonder the man made such an impact on so many people. This kind of consistency and important to detail is all too rare.