I have been thinking a lot recently about happiness. I used to think I was happy, but after I started full time RVing and stopped working for the man, all that changed. What I thought was happiness was only a mirage, just a veiled thin layer. Don't get me wrong - I did have days and even weeks of happiness but mostly just dreary days and dreary days. I worked hard and received for my efforts just two weeks a year for myself and family. During those few weeks I went on vacations and truly enjoyed myself, free from distractions or my real life.
After about the first year off work and after starting my RV Inspection business I started to relax some and the worries started to fade. Now approaching a year and a half of my post work life, I started to realize what I thought was happiness was a myth. I looked back at my life and noticed I had 3 phases in my life. First was my life before marriage, second was my married life and now my post work life.
Phase 1 - life before marriage was difficult for me. I graduated high school and joined the marine corps. High school was a drag and I was glad to be finished with that part of my life. My time in the corps was also not all that pleasant either as you can imagine. After I was discharged I went about my life and no real happiness was found.
On to phase 2 - Married life is great when you are married to someone as perfect as my wife Caitlin. She has made me happy for over 22 years now. But that is not the happiness I am referring to in this post. The happiness I am referring to is the complete happiness with all aspects of life.
We have been force fed the idea of working hard, getting married, buying a home, having kids and retiring. Though I have done all of those things (except retirement) and have found happiness doing them, I still wonder if all the long hours at the office away from all of that was worth it. Could I not have actually lived a great life and found happiness without all the time away from the things that made me happy. Could I not have focused on family, friends, fun, travel without the need to work all the time to afford only a few weeks a year of this. We are all taught that if we go to school and get a great job and make a lot of money and buy things we will be happy. I found that it was not true. Having less things, spending time with family and traveling and focusing on happiness is way more satisfying. I have learned how not to buy everything I think I want, thinking it will make me happy. Well it doesn't and didn't for me. I learned that having less meant more to me then I ever thought it would.
Phase 3 - I am about to embark on an adventure of fulltiming and workamping. I am more excited to make $11 an hour than I ever was making 5 times that in the corporate world. Money doesn't equal happiness. Taking time to enjoy the world around me make more sense than ever. Have you ever thought "What would it be like if I had no money worries?". Well I have, and I'm doing it. I feel alive and free like I did as a child when my parents paid all the bills.
I started planning my fulltime adventure years ago and mostly revolved around having enough money to live the life style I thought I wanted to live. But after the last year and a half I figured out that money doesn't make you happier, it only makes life more complicated. Not to say someone should not look at finances when planning a major life change, but you can live on much less than you think. With the option of boondocking and cooking in the RV and entertaining yourself with nature instead of movie nights and dinners out, or even fancy parties.
I suggest you really look and what you want and not just what society says we should be doing. I have found that freedom means more than anything to me and having the opportunity to work at a KOA in Yellowstone means I will have the freedom to feel alive for the first time in decades. Remember when you were in college and you had almost no worries? You can have that again!!
I will be leaving Southern California May 1st and taking a 20 days journey to West Yellowstone boondocking and living my life my way. So if you are thinking about your life in the same way, I suggest you get past all the fear and do what will make you happy. You can always go back working for the man anytime you wish. Your misery will be waiting...
I suggest you take a plunge and join me.
I have to agree with your points of view. I have never been happier than living life on the road. Just another thought - your exit plan. There will come a time when you need one and ours is arriving faster than we wanted. But age does happen to everyone. You are going to be so busy at the KOA your summer is going to pass rapidly so take time to enjoy also. Safe travelsReplyDelete
Thanks Sandie! We are still years away from deciding on an exit plan. Were both in our early 50s. But an exit plan is a very good thing to have.Delete
Very profound comments Bill.ReplyDelete
My parents having died within a year or two of one another changed my view of it all. My father was an over-achiever like you and I. It’s been eight years since he died and I’ll bet half as many people care about his accomplishments than did the day of the funeral.
Myself, I want to get around good people that are not clawing up some corporate ladder or sitting around at their desk wondering how to get out of doing something. I did the corporate thing after the army while I was young. Left to pursue a dream job which I’ve had enough of at this point.
I forwarded your blog post to Karen. We had much discussion about its topics. This is the last full year in this house and in this job. We are really starting to lean towards next spring asap putting the house up for sale. I’m eledgable for pension benefits 1,000 hours into next years work year or around July. Still planning to stay till November but it’s nice to have the options.
Keep in touch and good luck at Yellowstone.