by Niall Doherty

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I haven’t eaten meat since 2008. I’ve shunned all animal products since 2009. I own less than 130 things (and dwindling). I live 4,000 miles from home because my favorite basketball team plays here. For the past three months, I haven’t paid any rent. Next week I’m quitting my 9-to-5 job and setting up a location-independent, minimalist business. Six months from now, I’ll move to a foreign country where I don’t speak the language.

This is all very unlikely.

Rewind seven years. I was working in a department store in Ireland, trading my time for money, had been for quite a while. I’d dropped out of college. I didn’t read much. I watched a lot of TV, played a lot of video games. I felt uneasy about any kind of change. (I remember one of my best friends inviting me to his 21st birthday party an hour away. I said no. Too much of a break from my routine.)

In short: back then I was content to follow all the rules, avoid taking risks, live the default lifestyle, settle for mediocrity.

Now, not so much.

I see and hear many people say they can’t do certain things. They can’t change their diet. They can’t make their own money. They can’t pick up everything and move to a foreign country. They can’t live life on their own terms. They can’t follow their dreams. They can’t make a positive difference in the world.

“I don’t have it in me,” they say.

Bullshit.

See, I didn’t have it in me either, but I do now. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something you learn, a mindset you develop. If you don’t want that kind of mindset, fine, but make your choice consciously.

Johnny B. Truant wrote recently about choices. When you say you can’t do something, when you think you don’t have it in you, that’s a choice you’re making. Other people less resourceful and less privileged than you have done such things, because they made a firm decision and stuck with it. They made that thing their priority and killed all else that interfered.

What we’re talking about here is freedom. That’s what non-conformity means to me. No, I won’t just live how everyone else is living, or how some people expect me to live. I’ll make my own choices rather than take the thoughtless, default route.

You too can develop that mindset. It’s not that hard. Read a few books. Question everything. Figure out what you really want and commit to paying the price.

Care to join me?