The moment we knew we were made for more
- Published on Wednesday, 26 October 2011
- By: Clark Vandeventer
- 19 Comments
It’s not that I’m an underachiever. It’s just that I’m trying to achieve something different than most people.
My definition of success isn’t about how much money I make or how much money I have in the bank. It’s not about how big my house is or what kind of car is in the driveway.
My definition of success is based more upon how much freedom I have to enjoy my family, to travel, to explore the world near and far, and to live an examined life.
That’s because at some point there came a moment. A moment in time when my priorities shifted. A moment that would mean my life would never be the same.
Here’s what I mean:
I came to realize that there are two great passions in my life:
- My family. Spending time with my wife and kids.
- Traveling. Seeing and experiencing the world.
Then I thought…Did my life–where I spent my time and what I was working to achieve– did my life accurately reflect what I said I valued most?
You hear all the time people say, “nobody ever said on their deathbed that they wish they’d spent more time at work.” But it’s almost always said in a defeatist tone, as if it’s a sad reality which unfortunately you can’t do anything about.
These are thoughts that have slowly been developing in my mind over the past four years. They’re still developing. Our family travel lifestyle philosophy is taking shape. Here’s what I know: I don’t want to wake up at 65 and wonder what the hell happened to my life. And besides, tomorrow is not guaranteed.
In my view, the point to life is to live well, not to retire well.
When was the moment my wife and I realized we wanted to live a family travel lifestyle?
It’s been a process.
I had two failed entrepreneurial efforts that expedited my journey to family travel lifestyle. We ended up living in my in-laws garage.
Had either one of those entrepreneurial efforts been successful our family may be living a totally different life now.
But both failed.
I’m so thankful they failed. Had they succeeded I would have remained on a path contrary to my true self and what I value most.
I’ve always been an introspective person and I believe that soul-searchers always have a way of finding their true selves. It can take a while to get there. But soul-searchers always find their way.
I still think I would have ended up here. It probably just would have just taken a whole lot longer.
In 2009 our family set off on a 6-month cross-country road trip. Looking back, it’s easy to define that trip as the beginning of our family travel lifestyle. But that’s not what we were thinking when we set off on the trip. At the time we simply viewed it as something we would do for 6 months and then return back to “normal” life. By normal I mean mortgages, car payments, designer jeans, expensive toys, and keeping up with the Joneses. The grind. The rat race.
While we were traveling we chronicled our journey using Mixbook, an online service that allows you to create a digital scrapbook which you can later have printed into a book. This was way back before we’d ever even thought about being family travel bloggers.
Last night I was skimming through our scrapbook of our trip and these lines caught my eye:
“New Orleans was a place where we just really became content with what we had. Mostly, we had each other. Life is best enjoyed when you are not longing for the next thing. In New Orleans we were happy with what we had. Happy to walk around the city. Happy to just take it in. Happy to share a dinner at the Central Grocery. Just happy.”
That was the moment.
Looking back I can say there was a change that took place in us during our time in the Big Easy. We transitioned.
We haven’t yet arrived. Does anyone ever really “arrive?”
But we are living a simpler life. We share a car. We’ve moved from Santa Barbara–one on the most expensive places in the world to live–to Lake Tahoe. We’re getting out of debt. We travel a lot–not as much as we’d like to–while we work toward more consistent and adventuresome travels.
All because of a moment.
This post was just a small part of a great group collaboration from a bunch of other families who had a similar moment. A moment where they decided to change their life. Make sure you go give them a look.