There is no force as powerful as pursuit. It’s a gritty daily grind — but it’s the only way to find out what you’re capable of. Twenty years ago, I ditched medical school and bailed on a PhD in Philosophy to pursue my own calling to become a photographer. Amidst a bunch of head-scratching and doubt from my family and peers, I abandoned a known outcome to dedicate my life to making art. This quest woke me from a sleep state, and has since catapulted me into opportunities I never imagined existed.I test myself by doing, making and being, NOT by checking off boxes or collecting diplomas. By navigating my life in pursuit of my vision, I have – at the core – created my own trajectory.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky to befriend many fellow comrades in adventure — and there’s few if any more prolific than globetrotting entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau. Chris’s discipline and insight are a constant source of inspiration for me. His blog , The Art of Non Conformity is a part of my daily routine, his early books are continual energizers for me, and he’s even joined me on the #cjLIVE couch before.
But today is an especially awesome day, because I get to share Chris’ new book with you on this blog, along with an exclusive interview with the man himself. That’s right, during the time he wasn’t visiting every country on the planet (!!!) or running my favorite gathering of humans (the World Domination Summit), Chris managed to write a game changing new book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life – and, although it just came out last week – it’s already a New York Times bestseller (no surprise there). I tracked him down between book signings (where he’s visiting 41 cities in the USA alone!!) and talk show appearances to chat about the relationship between pursuit and fulfillment.
Are you ready to be the hero of your own life? Then start by GRABBING CHRIS’ NEW BOOK HERE and then check out our Q&A below for a few actionable takeaways for finding your own life-defining quest.
Hello my friend! Congrats again. Please tell me and the good people here what inspired you to write this book? How did you know this was the next story you needed to tell?
I wanted to tell the story of real-life adventures and modern-day quests. I spent 10 years visiting every country in the world — but the best part was hearing the stories of other people who had also chosen to cultivate the value of adventure in their lives. I didn’t want to just write a memoir, in other words. I wanted to present an agenda: “a quest can improve your life, and here’s how you craft one.”
I love that term, “the value of adventure”. Is this a one-off idea, or are we having a cultural shift towards a new definition of happiness?
I think it’s fair to say that people are thinking differently about their lives. They’re understanding that with all the opportunities available to us, we should put our limited time and energy to good use. We should strive! We should live with urgency!
I’ve often gotten lost during my trajectory toward a goal. And looking back it has been because I’d poorly defined those goals. Your book cuts thru that nonsense (and the challenges that face most people) by making goals a “quest”. What defines a quest?
A quest has a beginning and an end. There’s something you work toward over time—and there are usually multiple stages or milestones along the way. Challenge is the essence of a good quest. It shouldn’t be that easy! Lastly, something unexpected usually happens along the way. You can’t help but be changed through the journey. A quest makes you a better person as you embrace the challenge and adapt to unexpected circumstances.
How do you begin to set “the right quest” – and even the right milestones for a quest — while also allowing room to learn from the unexpected?
You set a big, incredible goal that is also within the realm of possibility. It has to be hard but it has to be achievable. In my case, visiting every country in the world (193/193) was tough. It took ten years! But it wasn’t fundamentally impossible. I knew if I worked hard enough and found a way to overcome the various challenges, eventually I could see it through.
We can choose to live for something we believe in. We can spend our time on things we’re excited by *and* things that bother us. One of my favorite stories in the book comes from Oklahoma, where a young mother decided that she’d raise her family with an international perspective. She couldn’t visit every country in the world, but she decided to cook a meal from every country in the world. Over the three years that the project unfolded, her daughter grew up eating foods from all over and learning about life beyond her doorstep. Then other people started caring, following along with the recipes she posted online.
It became something much bigger than just a small project, even though it was something she could pursue from her home and without a lot of specialized skills.
Is a quest ever really over?
In some ways, yes. Every quest has a goal and a destination. It may be “all about the journey” but there *is* something you’re working toward that you’ll eventually reach. That’s why you should be prepared for the end!
That said, the act of “questing” itself is addictive. Once you go down the road of adventure, it’s hard to quit.
What’s your next quest?
For me, the next quest will be much more about community. I want to focus on serving people who are interested in living unconventional lives. I want to help them to form communities of their own and provide role models of others who’ve done remarkable things.
Ultimately, I think this kind of work will be far more valuable than visiting every country in the world. But I’m also grateful for the extended quest of traveling, because without it I wouldn’t have the community in the first place.
Well said, amigo… before I again recommend you pick up Chris’ book, I’ll leave you with one snippet that I’ve learned from Chris that’s different that all the other goal or quest-setting books out there.
According to Chris, here are the 5 key qualities of a quest:
- A clear goal and a specific end point
- A clear challenge
- A sacrifice of some kind
- A calling or sense of mission
- A series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal
The key for me is the sacrifice. What is achievement without sacrifice? In the case of becoming a photographer, I turned my back on becoming a pro soccer player, a doctor, or a professor. There’s gravity is admitting that to one’s self, and for me it was understanding in advance that I’d have to sacrifice that helped me get thru the hardest parts.
So what is your quest? What will you sacrifice to get what you want out of life? Pick up Chris’ book for some inspiration and clarity on how to do this for yourself. It will be the best $11 you could possibly spend to get yourself un-stuck and on to the next big chapter in your life.