When Chris epublished his World Domination Manifesto, I was all over it. This guy is a dynamic writer with a passion for what he does and the ambition and drive to get it done. Of course I had to include him in the series!
Who: Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Nonconformity
Chris is a writer, traveler, and lifelong learner interested in understanding the world and empowering others to live life on their own terms.
What variety of Someday Syndrome affected you the most? In what way?
How did it affect the rest of your life?
How would you describe your happiness level at that time?
I don’t think I was fundamentally unhappy before I went overseas and started thinking more seriously about what I wanted to do with my life. But obviously, I was missing out on quite a lot. I did always have the feeling that I was missing something important, even though I felt secure in my personal faith and in my relationships with others. I think the “something” I was missing was a sense of adventure and living on the edge.
What changed? Was it gradual or did it come as an epiphany? Perhaps a mix of the two?
It was all a result of choosing to leave home and volunteer for a charity in West Africa. Without that experience, I don’t think I ever would have found the courage to pursue significant goals and broaden my vision. When my wife and I fully committed to living overseas in a challenging environment, we learned far more about ourselves than through anything else we had done.
In the end we were in Africa for 4 years, and that time definitely served as the basis for my worldview. There were lots of small and big steps along the way, but in the end I know if we hadn’t taken the first one and left our home in 2002, we would not have escaped the wistful “someday” feeling that you describe.
What dream are you in the process of realizing?
My personal dream is to visit every country in the world. So far I’ve been to 100, but there are a lot remaining. I’ll also be writing a book and recruiting a small army.
How would you describe your happiness level now?
I’m doing great, although of course there are lots of peaks and valleys. For example, I tend to believe that embracing loneliness rather than running from it is important. I wrote about this recently while traveling through a lot of countries this summer, including Northern Iraq, Mongolia, and Pakistan. Along the way I felt like giving up on the whole thing. It wasn’t a serious consideration — more of a passing thought — and it ended up turning into a good feeling, because I knew I would keep going no matter what.
What advice would you give someone in the position you were in before?
Just do something, anything. The funny thing about goal-setting and taking immediate action steps is that it usually takes less time than you expect to achieve your goals when you finally get serious about them.
- When life is too comfortable, it’s difficult to determine exactly what’s missing.
- A life spent in pursuit of happiness isn’t always sunshine and puppies – don’t give up the first time you feel a little down. It probably means you’re on the right track.