The start of a new year is always a time of reflection and planning for us. Reflection on the year that has just passed, and planning for the year ahead. We did a lot last year, but we have big plans for the new year and we’re pumped to make 2018 our best year yet!

In the interest of working towards and achieving our biggest goals this year – and helping you work towards yours – we bring you this reflective post about changing your mindset to live your dreams!

There are a lot of dreams we all have that seem unachievable – eating healthier, running a marathon, learning an instrument, making a major lifestyle change – and it’s really easy to sit back and go through your wish list without doing anything about it.

You sit there just wishing you could do something, wishing your life would be different in some way. That’s what we did.

We wished we didn’t have to work unfulfilling jobs. We wished we didn’t have so many bills. We wished we had time to write, to play music, to figure a way out of this hole. We wished we could buy a van and build it into a camper. We wished we could work for ourselves. We wished we could just take off and travel.

It wasn’t until we changed our mental vocabulary that we finally took the leap and started working towards our lifestyle change. All it took was changing our inner monologue from “We wish” to “We are.”

Changing your mental vocabulary can start you down the path towards achieving your most heartfelt dreams and goals.

small steps every day

Before we started down our vanlife journey, we were trapped in an unfulfilling 9-5 suburban existence we saw no way out of. We had all the outward signs of conventional success – a nice house, cars, friends, good jobs, tons of stuff – but inside we were screaming.

We longed to travel, to explore the world and ourselves, to truly connect with others, and to spend our time on things that nourish our souls instead of killing them.

For years our dreams were just that – dreams. Fantasies we would think about wistfully while telling ourselves we would take off and travel “someday.” But instead of actually doing it, we came up with all kinds of excuses for why it wouldn’t work, or why it was a bad idea, or why we couldn’t do it now.

Anyone who’s ever aspired to something knows what we’re talking about. The negative thoughts. The part of yourself that tries to convince you that you can’t do it and it’s silly to even think about it.

We’re conditioned to think this way – to doubt ourselves and shoot ourselves down – to keep us in our safe little boxes. But once you finally let your feet leave the ground you quickly learn that the fear was just a ruse your mind was orchestrating to keep you in your comfort zone.

What the mind doesn’t realize about comfort zones, though – is nothing ever grows there.

We desperately wished we could leave everything behind. We felt this feeling in our guts, in our souls, deep in our hearts as our inner fire screamed at us to just take the jump. But our minds would always shoot us down.

taking the jump

We can’t do that – we don’t have the money to travel. What will we do for income? It’s stupid to do it now, we should just save up and do it when we’re retired. Besides, we’ve got a house, and our house is filled with stuff! What will we do with everything?

That was the hardest one for us to get around – what to do with our belongings. We wished we didn’t have all this stuff to deal with. We wished we could just be rid of it all.

Then we made a simple change to our thought patterns that completely flipped our outlook on the possibility of pursuing our dreams. We changed our thoughts from “we wish” to “we are,” and everything opened up to us.

This one change in mental vocabulary started a gradual avalanche that got us to where we are today – enjoying the freedom of life on the road all while successfully working towards some of our biggest goals.

Once you change your words, everything goes from “unachievable” to right in front of you. You just need to reach out and grab it.

We are no longer wishing we could sell our stuff, wishing we could buy a van, or wishing we could travel everywhere. We changed our vocabulary to “We are selling our stuff. We are buying a van. We are traveling everywhere.”

As you change the words you use in your own thoughts, you’ll quickly find that your thoughts become actions. And the accumulation of those actions will propel you down the road in the direction you want to go.

vanlife is flippin awesome

When you change your vocabulary, you’re taking a big leap down the path of achieving your dreams. And the hardest part is that initial leap.

Any major change can be scary, and it was especially so for us. We weren’t talking about taking a two-month road trip in a car. We weren’t talking about traveling temporarily and coming back to our old lives. No, this was a total and complete lifestyle change – getting rid of everything we once owned, and leaving everything we had ever known behind.

The fear of leaping into the unknown was terrifying, and it’s what held us back from fulltime travel for years. But the most difficult part about committing to vanlife was that first step. Once we took it, each additional step down our new path of freedom seemed easier than the last.

Once we started getting rid of things, it got easier and easier to get rid of more things. And once we started selling items truly dear to us, we were shocked at the lack of sadness we felt. Instead, it felt as if a burden had been lifted. We could physically feel that clearing another item from our physical, mental, and emotional clutter was getting us one step closer to our dreams.

Getting where we wanted to be didn’t happen overnight – it took us a full year from the moment we started selling our stuff to the moment we hit the road in our van. But once we started taking consistent action, no matter how small, we knew we would get there sooner or later.

Imagine if you spent 1 minute working towards a goal for every 30 minutes you spent just dreaming about it.

working towards goals

We often trick ourselves into believing that working towards something big requires a colossal shift in our lives. That’s one of the strategies our minds use to convince us that our big goals are just too far out of reach. We wish and we wish, but we’re quickly overwhelmed by the sheer distance of the path towards our dreams.

But you don’t have to make a change all at once. All you have to do is commit to taking one small step towards your goal each day.

Want to run a marathon? Start by jogging to the end of the driveway. That’s a whole lot less intimidating than running 26.2 miles. And after awhile, as you run longer and longer distances, a 14-mile training run will seem like just another jog down the driveway.

Want to downsize your belongings and live in a van? Start by selling one thing. That’s a lot easier to wrap your head around than the thought of ridding yourself of everything you own. Selling the next thing will be easier, and the next next one after that even more so. Before you know it your stuff will be gone, your bank account will be full, and you’ll be more free than you’ve ever been.

It’s like that with any goal, any change, any dream. No matter how far away the destination, it’s the small steps that will get you there.

Here’s the secret: With the right mindset, everything is within your reach.

change from i wish to i am

It takes a lot of work to achieve a big goal or embark on a major life transition. Throwing off the shackles of expected societal living in favor of the free-flowing vagabond lifestyle of vanlife is no different – and can be especially challenging since you may encounter all kinds of physical and mental roadblocks to such a radical change.

But whether your goal is selling all of your belongings to live in a van, writing the Great American Novel, or setting the Guinness World Record for pogo-sticking – having the proper mindset is all it takes.

To use an old cliche that we’ve become quite fond of lately, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

We’ve learned that with the proper mindset and positive mental vocabulary, we can truly do whatever our hearts desire. It may not happen overnight, but we know that if we stay positive and take small steps every day, we can achieve anything.

Changing our thoughts from “we wish” to “we are” propelled us down a path that led exactly where we wanted to go. And now, in the midst of living our dream every single day, we can look back and say “we did.”

What are your wishes? What’s stopping you from turning these into reality? What are some of your achievements that used to be just dreams? Let us know in the comments!

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Katie Regan
Katie Regan
5 years ago

Hey y’all! I’ve been cruising around your blog since we corresponded a couple of days ago and this one really speaks to me, as I just did a very similar thing. The issue of stuff was a big one for sure. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

Jayme Serbell
Reply to  Katie Regan
5 years ago

Hey there! Such a fun topic to write about and discuss! I felt like I related to every single line of that entire article! It’s funny how there’s some things you prepare your heart to break over parting ways with, and then it happens and your soul is just like “Welp, okay! What’s next” – whereas there’s other items you think will be so easy to part with but then you realize this strong attachment you’ve developed with it! It’s so wild! Thanks so much for sharing with us as well as to others everywhere else. Sharing our stories are… Read more »

5 years ago

Hey guys! I definitely needed to read this today. I very badly want to be able to quit my job to be a stay at home mom, just need to stick it out long enough to get as much debt paid off as we can to get ourselves more comfortable. How did you guys go about selling all of your stuff? We have SO MUCH STUFF and I would really like to get what I can sold not only to help with finances but make more space for the important things. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Jayme Serbell
Reply to  Jess
5 years ago

We actually plan to post a very elaborate article on how we went about selling all of our belongings in the very near future, so keep an eye out! And you got this, mama! Good luck with any future transitions you choose to take on!