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One day, not too long ago, while surfing the world wide web (ie wasting time), I came across the site of pro blogger Chris Guillebeau. I didn’t have to read much to realize this guy was trying to do something unique. His page The Art of Non-Conformity details his attempt to visit every country in the world before he turns 40. It is also where he shares his ideas on how to live on your own terms and achieve a remarkable life. His concepts are straightforward and are built on the tenant that you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

A simple idea, but pretty revolutionary considering all the junk we’re force fed from the day we’re born (Do well in school, go to college, get a “good” job, meet someone, settle down, have children etc.). Everything is outlined in Chris’ manifesto A Brief Guide to World Domination. It’s free and can be downloaded from his site (as well as 279 Days to Overnight Success which chronicles his unconventional journey to becoming a full-time writer). This got me thinking about what I really want to get out of life.

What follows is my own manifesto… or life list, or resolutions, or goals, it doesn’t matter what they’re called, but they are there to remind me every day that these are the things that matter TO ME. These are the things I want to achieve. I’ve broken my manifesto into three sections, Financial, Career and Health.

  • Pay off all debt by my 40th birthday with income from writing. Completion Date: Nov. 4 2012

The big 40 seems a good as time as any to retire my debt. Twenty-seven months to a debt-free life should be achievable (I don’t owe a gazillion dollars, but my credit cards have a robust balance). How much I am paid for my work is essentially out of my control, but I can produce quality product on a consistent basis that will generate a certain level of cash flow.

  • Write and publish 50 stories in 50 months (1,000 words a day Mon.-Fri). Completion Date: Sept. 31st 2014

I have no idea if this is even possible, but it sounds cool doesn’t it? By my own definition, a story can include works of varying lengths (short stories, novellas or novels). Also, I thought long and hard about whether to use the word Publish or Sell in the above statement of intent. Selling everything I produce would be great (see my financial goal above) but that’s not necessarily realistic. The word Publish gives me a little more wiggle room (ie post/publish online).

  • Use proper diet and exercise to put on 10 pounds of lean muscle mass by my 40th birthday. Completion Date: Nov. 4 2012

Huh, I sure expect a lot when I turn 40. A recent bicep strain has kept me from doing upper body work at the gym, so this goal has already hit a speed bump, but I am confident that once everything is healed, this goal is quite achievable.

Well, there you have it. This is what I’ll be working on in the coming weeks and months (occasional updates on my progress will be detailed here on the blog). My manifesto is typed-up and hanging above my desk so that no matter what life throws at me, it will simply be a matter of deciding whether an action will bring me closer, or farther away from, the things I want.

Check out Chris Guillebeau’s site. Hopefully it will give you some food for thought like it did for me.