I’ll admit it. It feels a little cliché to talk about journaling during the New Year’s timeframe. It feels like everyone already does it, has done it before, or started journaling on January 1st determined to make this year the year!
My goal isn’t to convince you to journal. Instead, I want to share what I learned when I re-read my journal entries from 2022. It has been nearly one year since my family and I decided to sell (most of) our worldly possessions and travel the United States in a converted Amazon truck (think tiny home on wheels with two nine-year-old kids along for the ride). I knew I wanted to document the experience – the ups, the downs, and the sights seen – and journaling felt the best way to capture it outside of the sporadic social media posts.
As I sat down during the holidays to reflect on the experience to date, I opened up my journal to relive some of the moments. Here are five of the most important things I learned:
My journal entries often discussed how patience helped me get through the rough moments on the road. Surprise, surprise – not every day was cupcakes, waterfalls, and beaches. There were times where I had to remind myself to be patient with my kids, my wife, or even myself. Those moments were exasperated by the fact it’s hard to get time by yourself when everyone lives in 90 sq. ft of space. I’m learning how important those mental moments of “be patient” can calm a situation. And luckily, the moments pass quicker than we often think.
Time is a Gift
Many of my journal entries were mundane recaps of where I spent my time. As I read page after page, I realized I was often focused on where I spent or who I gave my time to that day. It was a realization whether I spent it exercising, reading a book, listening to music, or however one might energize themselves, time is clearly an important gift. You need to make sure you’re giving yourself the time you need. In turn, you’ll be best positioned to give the gift of time others in our lives who need our help or support.
Our first month on the road was, to be kind, a “learning experience.” We were running at break neck speed trying to see every sight we could. It was unsustainable. We made the intentional decision to slow down our pace, take more in, and by doing so, experience so much more of what we were seeing. In today’s world, we live in an age where everything needs to be done right now – but this isn’t always the best approach. Taking your time and slowing down can lead you on the path towards success without sacrificing your mental health or happiness along the way.
When in Doubt, Say Yes
Life presents us with plenty of opportunities – some of which we may not see at first glance because they seem daunting or intimidating. When in doubt about whether you should take on a new challenge or experience with your kids, say yes! You never know what amazing experiences could come out of saying yes instead of no!
I lost count of how many times I wrote about a situation where it’s clear to see (now in hindsight) I was overthinking. That’s perfectly acceptable and a very common human trait. We tend to overthink until we’re so caught up in our own heads, the only plausible action is to take no action at all. Sometimes you just need to trust your gut feeling and go with what feels right in the moment rather than getting wrapped up in overthinking situations. In almost every situation, doing something proved to be better than no action at all.
There you have it. A year on the road and a year’s worth of lessons learned. The great thing about it is you don’t have to sell your home and live in a tiny van to learn it!