You’re Allowed to Change Your Mind (and Your Direction)

You're Allowed to Change Your Mind (and Your Direction)

This is a guest post from my friend Nick. It’s a refreshingly honest story about two people who are doing things their own way—including shifting gears and moving in a new direction.

Two years ago, my wife and I started planning a new life. I worked as an engineer at a well-established company and Hanna was in physical therapy school. We liked our lives ok, but we wanted more. I couldn’t stomach working for someone else and Hanna couldn’t bear the idea of working for the same employer for too long.

But most of all, we wanted to travel. We dreamed of days spent hiking through Glacier National Park and nights around campfires. We longed for sand between our toes and the smell of the ocean. Instagram took over our phones, our time, and our thoughts. Travel was everything.

On top of that, the timing was perfect. Hanna and I are young and we don’t have kids. Now is when we should be running off on an adventure. After all, when else are we going to have this opportunity? The plan was for her to take a travel physical therapy position after graduation, and get sent to a new city every three months. In the meantime, I had two years to build up a freelance business on the back of blogging so that I could work remotely.

For two years, we both worked 70+ hours a week. Hanna focused on knocking grad school out of the park, and I built my freelance business on the nights and weekends. Other than being tired all the time and gaining weight, things couldn’t have gone any better.

Everything worked out according to plan. We bought our Airstream Safari in November of 2016 and began renovating it. New paint, new floors, new cushions, new curtains, and new wall decor. We spent the summer after Hanna’s graduation finishing up renovations and even took a practice trip.

It was all so exciting and the timing was perfect. Hanna got a job the last week of August and I was able to quit my day job the week before we left. This allowed us to seamlessly roll from my health insurance to hers in September. Literally, everything went so according to plan it was almost uncanny.

You're Allowed to Change Your Mind (and Your Direction)

But that’s when things abruptly stopped following the plan.

We’d been so busy building our dream for the past two years, but when we got there we realized that it wasn’t what we wanted. Less than a month in, we were questioning everything.

Sure, the travel is fun. We love our Airstream and we love being with our pets. We spent our second weekend traveling at the beach. It was everything we wanted—except, we weren’t happy. We didn’t feel the joy we thought we would. We missed our family, I struggled to find time for my business, and our budget was bursting at the seams.

Everything we’d been working towards for two years finally paid off, but we didn’t like it once we got there. We didn’t want this life.

A couple weeks ago, Hanna and I sat down and talked about our life. We discussed houses and kids and travel and family and careers. After talking in circles for hours, we decided to rank the things that were most important to us over the next 5 years.

Here they are (in order):

  1. Our individual relationships with God
  2. Our relationship with each other
  3. Our relationships with our family and grandparents
  4. Getting into shape and focusing on our health
  5. Growing my business so that Hanna has the option to quit her job in a couple of years
  6. Saving money for a down payment on a house
  7. Saving money for adoption (this a personal thing we feel called to do)
  8. Traveling

Did you see that? When we were honest with ourselves, travel didn’t even make the top five. It barely made the top ten. And while some of these things can be accomplished while traveling, others can’t.

The way Hanna and I like to travel includes eating at cool local restaurants and going to places that cost money. But we realized we can’t travel the way we want AND save enough money for our other goals on the list—the goals that we ranked higher than travel.

Secondly, it’s difficult for me to focus on my business the way I want with an unstable lifestyle. Granted, we’re slow traveling and not moving every day, but we still don’t have a routine—and I thrive on routine. We want to get out and explore the places we’re visiting, which means less time to grow the business. Again, a business that needs to support us fully in just a couple of years.

Lastly, and most importantly, family. I recognize that lots of people don’t have the options we do. They have to move away for a job or for their kids or for many other reasons. But we have flexibility. We can practically live wherever we want. But we’ve realized that we would kick ourselves one day if we chose to actively not live near our grandparents right now.

So I asked one more question before we finished our talk, to make sure it wasn’t all about money: “What if money wasn’t an option, and we could still travel the way we wanted and hit the savings goals, then would we do it?”

The answer: no.

Even if we could travel in the way we wanted, we still want to stop.

We still love traveling and living in the Airstream. Hanna’s still going to be a travel physical therapist and I’m still going to grow my business remotely. But now, instead of traveling most of the time, we’re planning to take more positions near home. We plan to travel a couple times a year in-between Hanna’s rotations on shorter trips.

I recognize this isn’t for everyone. Some people full-time RV and love every minute. Others would’ve never even tried because they know that life isn’t for them. In our case, we had to taste it. We had to learn that we’re both extreme planners and often become blind by being hyper-focused on the goal.

We’re learning how important self-awareness is and that plans change. For now, we’re going to live life three months at a time. We’re going to look up more often and take more deep breaths. We’re asking more questions like: “Is this what we actually want?” and “Do we feel this is the direction we should continue going?”

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I do know that we’re going to be more flexible. We’re going to make sure that what we think we want, is what we actually want.

You're Allowed to Change Your Mind (and Your Direction)

Nick True is a married twenty-something from Tennessee and father to three fur-children. He focuses on helping young professionals create a personal plan with their money, based on their own tendencies and emotions, via his website Mapped Out Money.

  • This is a really cool post. It reeks of authenticity (in a good way) which requires so much bravery! Good for you guys, for your hustle but more for the life you have ahead of you now. Proud to be the first commenter! : )

  • Flexibility has been a hard one for me to tackle (I am a type-A planner/organizer), but it can bring such a relief to life. I often get into a mindset that tells me once I set myself up to do something, I have to stick with it.
    Luckily, that is not the case!

    My husband has helped me to see that we always have options and can decide to make the best decisions for us based on our circumstances… and those decisions can change to meet new or unexpected circumstances.

    • Gosh, I so understand. I’m an extreme type-A planner. It’s absurd. I’m right there with you.

      That’s awesome about your husband helping you out! It’s certainly all about balance, I’m hoping I can get some more of that flexibility :)

  • Needed this today. We just sold and bought real estate in the same town earlier this year, thinking we had outgrown our small house and wanted a bigger yard. And now after living in our house for 6 months we are contemplating a move to Ottawa (6 hours away from us). It feels stupid to sell the house less than 1 year after purchasing and moving but now I know its ok to change your mind and direction if things aren’t working for you.

    • Exactly.

      I’m so glad this helped! Feeling stuck is so easy to do, and sometimes people are legitimately stuck for a bit. But most of the time it’s just us telling ourselves that we are… At least, that’s what it is for me :)

      Best of luck if you decide to move to Ottawa! I’m glad you’re being flexible, and thanks so much for reading.

  • Awesome story! I think a lot of times people are a bit scared to change plans – after all, you spent a LOT of time planning it out and then to only be at it a month, what would other people think?

    But it doesn’t matter what they’d think because you guys did what’s right for you. :) And you’re happier now, closer to family…all good things. Plus you till get to travel! Win-win.

    Thanks for sharing your story

  • This is such a refreshing post. I’m in the planning stages of making a big lifestyle change. What that is or looks like, I’m not exactly sure. It’s honestly crippling to think of all of the freedom that quitting the traditional 9-5 job provides.

    • It’s definitely a different pace Allyson! It’s weird to think about not being tied down by location. It can definitely be crippling because there’s just so many options.

      Sounds like a fun adventure for you regardless of what happens :)

      Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

  • It’s never too late to change your path and you definitely should if it doesn’t make you happy. It does take that extra fortitude to do so. What have you decided to do with your living situation? Park your RV nearby or rent?

    • We’re still planning to live in the RV. We really like living in it, and not all of our family is in the same place. The furthest apart is only 3 hours though.

      We’re planning to still live in the RV and just park in campgrounds in the same towns as our family. Hanna’s going to look for Physical Therapy rotations in those 2 – 3 cities and we’ll likely hop back and forth.

      This will give us the ability to take 2-3 week trips in between Hanna’s rotations as well. Just hook up to the truck and go :)

  • Kudos to both of them for working together toward a dream and accomplishing it, and kudos to both of them for sitting down and discussing why it wasn’t in-line with what they really wanted in their lives. They get to move forward knowing that they can really accomplish anything they set their minds to, but also they aren’t locked-in to whatever they decided either. And their smart decisions has given them that opportunity. Loved this post.

  • Fantasy life versus real life are sometimes difficult to reconcile. I am a planner, I like to look ahead and see myself reaching the goals I think I want. Key words – I think. Over the past almost 60 years of life I realized that my plans need to be flexible and the focus shifted to the process of how I want to live, not the result. Things change every day. Health, relationships, opportunities, dreams, goals are all temporary and transitional. Good for you for reevaluating and making changes.

    • Thanks Lynn, I totally understand what you’re saying.

      I really like the focus on “how you want to live” vs. “the result.”

      Great insight. Thanks for reading and sharing :)

  • We bought a brand new motorhome to live in full time then four months later traded it in on another brand new motorhome. I was fine with the first one but my husband wasn’t and our relationship was worth more than the loss we took on the first motorhome.

    • Yup. Yup. Yup. Being on the same page is so important. And that sometimes means doing the not “financially wise” thing in order to do the “relationship wise” thing… Which is actually financially wise too, in a round-about way :)

      Thanks for sharing Linda. I totally understand.

      I appreciate you reading :)

  • As a full time RVer, this is such a great read! While me and my husband absolutely love RVing and we’ve been doing it for over 2 years, it’s definitely not for everyone. We’re currently “home” after not being here for around one year. It’s so different and we’re glad we get to come back and visit everyone. For us, it’s a little easier because most of our friends and family have moved so we’re not particularly “called” back to one place.

    • Thanks so much for reading Michelle, it’s cool for you to see it!

      I’m glad to hear y’all have been able to spend some time at “home” wherever that is :)

  • Absolutely wonderful post. I have had dreams that I tried and they did not work out as expected or I was not as happy as I thought I would be. That being said I have never regretted having the experience. Finding out what does not work is just as important as finding out what does work. I have been struggling recently with deciding what to do next in life so I will be trying your list and ranking idea.

    • Totally understand that! Glad you enjoyed the post, thanks for reading. :)

      Definitely try the ranking method! It helped us to start by just brainstorming a list and then saying:
      If we could only have 3, what would those be?
      Okay, what about 3 more?
      And then 3 more etc…

      When you do it that way, you don’t have to compare everything at once… Just focus on “if you could only do this many, which ones would you do?”

      Eventually you’ll start running into real conflicts like we did at only 8 and figure out you can’t do it all… So that’s when you make some changes.

      Best of luck :)

  • Oh, I totally understand this!! I worked very hard to save money and pay down debt to make a huge move in my life from the NE to the SW part of the US, and now I’m realizing while it’s ok for now, it’s not where I want to be permanently. But I needed to take the chance, and make sure I wasn’t saying anymore “what if?” to myself.

    The learning is definitely in the doing. And I’m glad you guys were able to sit down together and go over this list and realize what your priorities are. So few people do that. As long as you’re open to things changing, which it definitely sounds like you are, things will work out just fine. Good luck to you and thanks for being so honest about yourself and you and your wife’s choices!

    • Thanks for reading Terri :) Glad you understand. It definitely happens to a lot of us and it’s important to realize it’s okay to change.

      I’m sure whatever you decide will work out as well!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and share :)

  • I can totally, totally relate to this post!
    In the summer of 2014, we moved from California to Oregon and in the fall of 2015, we moved back to California. We were only in Oregon for 14 months, but we realized that it just wasn’t the right decision for us. We changed our mind and yes it was a costly decision (all the moving back and forth), but we are so happy being back in California and realized what we truly want is right here :)

    • Yup!! Gosh, I so get it. And it’s hard because it can be embarrassing in front of friends and family. But ultimately, that’s no reason to stick with something.

      So glad y’all moved back and figured out what was truly right for you :)

  • I love this article! I think it’s easy to feel that because you’ve been walking down a certain path, you have to keep going in that direction, but we are all constantly learning what really makes us happy. Cheers to you for being willing to change your mind and embrace what you really want, and double cheers for sharing your story!

    • Thanks so much Jamie for reading. That means a lot :) It’s definitely tough to change, but totally worth it.

      I super appreciate you taking time to read and comment.

  • It’s so important to be flexible with yourself and ignore the sunk-costs. Living the life you currently want is more important than staying “with the plan.”

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