By Jess Ekstrom, Guest BloggerNovember 3, 2015
Recently my parents made a drastic life change: they moved into an RV. At 50 years old, my parents sold the house (and most of the belongings in it), and sold my dad’s company he started twelve years ago. They loaded into an RV with no plans or site reservations and hit the road.
For as long as I can remember, my dad worked to the bone on his business and my mom worked just as much with him. Watching them pour everything they had into a vision inspired me to start my own business. One thing about being an entrepreneur that is often overlooked, is that once you start your business, you’re never going to feel off the clock.
No matter where we were, what the clock said, what holiday it was, my parents were always responsible for the company. As rewarding as it was to be an entrepreneur and build a dream, it took a lot out of them.
And then one day, it was all over.
My dad signed the contract to get his business acquired. And instead of just being off the clock, he went off the grid.
It’s a tough concept for me to grasp, being that I feel like I’m just at the beginning of my career. But as I follow their journey, I’ve found there’s a lot to learn from closing your laptop and hitting the open road…
1) There’s no such thing as the perfect time.
Sure, there’s a slight chance if my dad waited a few years to sell his company maybe he would have gotten a higher evaluation. But who knows what tomorrow will bring? If he had waited for the perfect time to sell his business, he’ll probably be waiting forever.
The term “someday” is a disease word that can mess with your priorities. We spend a lot of time waiting waiting until our schedule magically clears up or our bank account suddenly triples to go on adventures and do what we want.
Instead, ask yourself how you can make room for your bucket list items now.
Moving your life into an RV really forces you to simplify. How many pairs of socks do you really need? Do you really want to hold onto your reindeer ones that you only wear in December (okay- maybe that’s just me)? You can do spring-cleaning, but if you think about downsizing to an RV, you really look at the four different staplers you have in your desk drawer differently. The next time you start to feel cluttered, imagine putting your life in an RV to help you simplify.
3) Rethink planning.
Before my parents started their trip, I was probing them for a calendar of where they’ll be and when so I could do research for them on restaurants and campsites and attractions (honestly, it was mostly about the food). But I got nothing. Finally, my dad said he’s been following plans his whole life and he’s ready to just go with it.
I’m a planner, so the thought of not having my six-month itinerary mapped out makes me twitch. But I realized how much freedom this gives them that they haven’t really experienced before. If they find a town they really like, why not stay there for a week? If they meet another couple that are professional bear photographers (which they actually did) and they want to go bear searching with them, do it.
There’s no alarm on their phone telling them it’s time to check in for their next reservation, so they’re open to more opportunities.
4) Be where you are.
If they’re in Jackson Hole, Wyoming or a random small town in the middle of Idaho, they’re present in that moment. They find the mom and pop restaurants, the best hiking trails, and talk to the locals. I travel a lot for speaking, and sometimes I’m on autopilot and just focus on speaking and then getting home. I’ll eat the same food (cough…Chipotle) and work on my computer from my hotel or a Starbucks until my flight.
My parents have taught me to experience and not just exist. I’m not telling everyone to pack up and live in an RV (because that would leave limited camping spots available for my parents).
But, whether you’re in an RV or not, live a mobile life.
What is one thing on your current bucket list? Share with us below!
Jess is the founder and CEO of her college startup, Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund childhood cancer research. She loves speaking on college campuses through CAMPUSPEAK and has recently launched her first book, The Freshman Fabulous: The Girl's Guide to College. When she's not working or speaking, she enjoys trying new foods, doing crossfit, writing (especially for IATG!), taking improv classes, being outside and helping others find their path to help the world.
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