What's Your Vision For Your Life?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau
Today I got an email from a person I met at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite. She desperately wants to break out of her old life and start a new life as a vandweller. But she keeps having these complications. Like so many of us she has a house that is upside-down and she can’t make the payments. That was actually simplifying things for her since she had stopped making payments. But that’s changed since the bank offered to cut her payments in half, now she is in the throes of indecision again. She wrote me mainly to vent but to some degree also to ask for advice.
Of course I don’t have any magical advice that will suddenly make everything clear. But I did write her back and told her the most important thing she could have was a vision for her life, a dream that moved and motivated her.
Then I went on my forum (cheaprvlivingforum.com) and there were several people who were also asking for advice about how and when to become vandwellers.
All these things combined to remind me how hard it is to cast aside the only way of life you have ever known, and suddenly start a new life that is completely unknown to you. I can’t tell you how much I admire and respect every person who has the courage to do that! It was easy for me, a divorce left me so broke I had no choice but move into a van, I honestly don’t know if I would have been brave enough to do it if I hadn’t been forced into it.
In this post I want to emphasize the importance of having a vision for your life. You need to know what it is that will make you happy. For many people, the American Dream of a house with a white picket fence and a garden in the backyard really is their dream. But since you are reading my blog, deep down in your heart you know that the American Dream isn’t your dream. Maybe part of you likes it, but some other part of you feels like it is a prison you need to break out of. Here’s the problem, society has been pounding the American Dream into your head every day of your life so there is no way for you to know if it is you that really likes it, or your training.
You’ve got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice. ~Steven D. Woodhull
Here’s the bottom line, are you happy? If you can’t answer with certainty that “Yes, I am happy!” then you probably aren’t. Do you love getting out of bed in the morning? Do you smile often? If not, why not? Isn’t that what happy people do? I have come to believe that there are very few happy people. There are many people whose life is acceptable, at least they don’t hate it, but very few who love their lives.
On the other hand, nearly every vandweller I know loves his life! There are parts of it they don’t like, but the life itself they love. I think the reason you are reading my blog is because you recognize that deep down you aren’t happy and you see something special in the vandwellers you read about on the internet. We have something you want, but you aren’t sure you want to pay the price for it. And there is a price, in many ways a vandwellers life is less comfortable than a house dweller. Think about how great our lives must be that even though they are much less comfortable, we are still tremendously more happy than we were when we lived in a house! I am living my dream life, are you? My hope for you is that you gain a vision for your life that makes you happy.
Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true. ~Anonymous
Once you have a vision you need to do whatever it takes to make it happen. You will still have a lot of decisions to make, but now you will have a guiding light to make them by. Every time you have to make a decision you can examine it in light of the vision. Ask yourself, “What decision here will bring me closer to my vision?” If something moves you closer to the vision, its right, if it moves you away from the vision, it’s wrong.
I had a lot of reservations and did quite a bit of planning. That helped. But there are still questions, still uncertainties, and still a few worries. There should be… When they finally end, I’ll be departed from this world.
Getting rid of my fixed home and camping in the van has been rewarding… The new freedom has been so exciting and fun that it seems there are no problems to diffifult to deal with. Each challenge is met with a new will to live and enjoy life. Before, I had nearly given up.
There will never be a point where a person can anticipate everything that will come up. Sometimes you just have to go forward and believe in yourself and get it done. Sometimes it just takes a bit of a gamble and some faith. It is definitely worth it.
Very well said Brad. Hopefully the more we all keep saying it the more people will hear and find the courage to try it for themselves! Bob
My “vision” for life includes leaving the job (too many years in a cube in front of a computer) and spending more unstructured time outside in beautiful places. To get there, I’m decluttering and planning out the transportation options. Other than that, I’m willing to just let things unfold and flow. Some of my hopes are to soften my harder edges, learn new things, do more yoga, read lots of books, and experience more creativity and awareness. I’m finally realizing how important it is to live authentically.
McBe, sounds like you have found a great balance between planning and going with the flow. It’s so easy to get off into either extreme. I am a big believer in finding the middle way. Not holding on too tight, or too loosely, the Buddhists call it non-attachement, neither grasping toward, or pushing away, instead merely being. Easier said than done! Bob
“Freedom” is a powerful word and a position we all aspire for but since it can never be fully achieved, we all settle for our “sweet spot”. I am not as free as some but more free than others.
We travel where and when we want. We thoughly enjoyed the RTR in January and now we are in State College, Pa. to visit my son. Doesn’t get much better than that.
You are quite right Sam. Freedom means something different to all of us. There is no right or wrong way to live especially for those of us who live or travel in vehcicles like cars, vans or RVs. I had a lot more freedom when I lived in my little camper on my pickup, but now I am more comfortable in the trailer. Neither is right, just whatever works for you. You have a great life, my friend, that 99.9% of the world can only dream of! Bob
For me, it was a choice…….to live simply….uncluttered by “stuff”….to be able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and to do whatever I wanted when I got there! Stay a day, a week or a few months. No yard to mow, no snow to shovel, no property taxes to pay…..
It involved a lot of planning. The trailer…the tow vehicle…the solar power system…the wind turbine…the gear!! I have become good friends with Amazon.com and Coleman.com with all the gear I have bought!! But, I only bought what I NEEDED!! To be able to cook, to stay warm, to sleep comfortably, to be safe!
It has been a journey I have taken with no regrets. If I had to do it over again, I would only change one thing—installed more solar power from the start!
Every day is a new opportunity! I work when I want, as I am only 58 and have no SS check coming in every month! If I want to travel 6 months and work 6 months to build up the travel fund, then thats how it is. Work opportunities are everywhere, despite the economy, if you know where to look! I can spend 5 or 6 months at Yellowstone or Mt. Rushmore or Daniel Boone National Forest, and then the rest of the year in Arizona or New Mexico or wherever I please.
I go to sleep every night happy and content with MY CHOICES, and wake up every morning ready to see what the new day holds in store. And my advice to anyone considering the lifestyle is always the same:literally thousands are out here doing it every day, some have more, some have less, but they are all doing it! YOU CAN TOO!
That is extremely well said John. I’m with you all the way!! Bob
hmm.. maybe thats my problem.. I’ve lost my vision working on getting it back though!
Nemo, you get that box truck ready to roll and spend some (or all) of the winter with us and I think you will catch the fever again!! I’m sure living on your little homestead is a good life, but think about your friends who need to see you and Tory again!! Bob
Good post, as always, Bob.
A few thoughts:
1. Because big change is scary and takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional energy, most of us, as the saying goes, change “not because we see the light, but because we feel the heat.”
To move into a van, most have either been pushed by external circumstances like severe financial pressure, or by internal factors such as extreme frustration or anger or fear or disgust at their conventional lifestyle.
2. Therefore, many vandwellers (and many who undertake any major change) are moving away from what they don’t like as much as they’re moving toward what they do like. A person may feel that he has to get out of his house, that he has to leave his job…and he may see that moving into a van is a way to do this. But he may not have a worked out a vision of what would be an ideal, or even very satisfying, life. He simply knows that conventional job, sticks and bricks, etc., is not for him.
Those who have a vision of what they want are blessed; many only have a terror of what they don’t want.
3. Still, we are all advised to follow your advice, Bob, and try to put together a vision, whether or not it comes easily.
I would add that for some people it feels satisfying to have a practical vision–what to eat, where to travel, how to keep the van cool in the summer, etc.–and to others it feels necessary to incorporate into their new lifestyle choices a sense of meaning and mission–philosophical, psychological, social, even spiritual.
But whatever is entailed by “vision,” for each of us, it is indeed so much more satisfying to focus on moving toward what we want, than away from what we don’t want. Thanks for the reminder. I’m working on it.
Very well said, Michael! Good advice we should all heed. I guess my one primary message i am always trying to get out is to not settle for a mediocre, barely acceptable life. Insist on being happy!! Bob
I am so totally impressed with this website and the people who come here to chat. Bob, you are awesome.Everyoe else on here I admire as well.
I obviously am new here and am sooo glad I found you. I have a very long story so I won’t bore anyone with it. Suffice to say, I am happy living in, of all things, a PT Cruiser! full time.
I miss having people I can talk to that understand that I like my lifestyle. I am not an alcoholic, a drug addict, or mentally ill (least ways, not any more than anyone in these days! LOL!) I don’t need people alot, just sometimes. I have found it next to impossible to meet people who are willing to make friends with someone who lives in their car. What are the events (and where and when) taking place where I might be able to meet like minded people and make some new friends?
Right now I am still living in the cities as I am working part time to get ahead of the financial struggle. But hope to change all that very soon.
I love the tips and how to’s here. I have some questions about solar power. I bought a $13.oo trickle cell battery charger solar panel and it doesn’t seem to be working, but am not sure why. I set up my own solar power when I had an RV and it worked like a charm! I get the impression to add a “house battery” hooked up to your car starter battery is easy to do, but so far, I don’t “get” it. To have it done is much to expensive for me.
Oh so many questions!
I might add that I am a nearly 66 year old female, with a 7 year old chiwawa that every one just falls in love with beleive it or not! (she is polite, well behaved, is not a yapper!)
Would love to meet some of you and perhaps even do some let’s get acqainted one on one, via email or IM?
Thanks again Bob, you are a real blessing!
Trisha (aka Tumbleweed Tea).
Hi Trisha, i am very glad you are here! Sounds like you are going to fit right in! What part of the country are you in? The biggest gathering for Vandwellers is in January in Quartzsite, AZ. We call it the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, and it is so much fun!! Imagine 90 vandwellers gathering together in the Arizona desert and just enjoying each others comapny. it is the highlight of my year. If you are anywhere near, come join us!! Get more info here: http://www.cheaprvliving.com/Rendezvous.html To find informal gatherings of people near you I suggest you join the Yahoo group vandwellers and my forum at http://www.cheaprvlivingforum.com/ Just post where you are and ask anyone in the area to contact you and get together.
Most solar trickle chargers put out so little power you wouldn’t even notice it. If you are in the area where I am, I’d be glad to install a house battery for you. Bob
Damned fine post, Bob. I am struggling with that question and a question an acquaintence asked me upon meeting. What are your passions? Damn, that question, lol.
I am glad to have found your book then your blog, and have joined the yahoo group. This idea of vandwelling is like a hot coal banked with ash in my belly. Thanks for being.
Khalil, thanks for your kind words. Sometimes some introspection can be difficult, but like-changing. Better watch out for those hot coals, they can turn into a fire that turns your whole life upside down! Stay in touch, I’d love to know how the story ends up. Bob
Bob, i totally agree about having a vision. I too lost a home, divorced etc, etc. I started living in my old class c in august of this year (2012). Its given me the opportunity to slow down and listen. Listen to the voice inside me and to work towards my dream. Its what motivates me and drives me each day. I actively work towards it by little wins, each day towards a bigger goal.It is tough at first, you do give up some comfort, but its more than offset by the freedoms you take back. Peace. (Oldsoul)
Shawn, I get lots of letters telling me about the hardship people are going through that is forcing them in a car, van or RV. On one hand its heartbreaking to hear the story, but on the other I am so glad I have some hope to offer them. I am so glad that you have found a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Bob