Focusing on the Journey

Today, I’d like to tell you all a little story.

In this story, a wannabe full-timer learns of an RV that sounds right for them. They think, ‘this is it, this could be The One’. They get excited at the prospect of having found their dream RV, but at the same time, they also start to feel some pressure. What if it isn’t in as good of shape as the pictures suggest? What if someone else buys it out from under them? What if they buy it and discover they don’t love the layout as much as they thought they would?

This pressure adds a certain amount of stress to the situation. A sense of urgency builds, and the shopper prepares to go see the RV in a heightened emotional state. They are well prepared though, with a friend who knows something of RVs, and a list of things to look for.

The shopper’s dream RV turns out to have water damage.

They know it’s much better to have caught it now than after purchasing, but they are still crushed. Despite knowing logically that there are still plenty of other RVs out there in the world, they had gotten attached to the idea of this particular RV, and the letdown of things not working out puts a serious crimp in their day. But, they pick up the search again. And in a few days or weeks or months, the next ‘dream RV’ pops up on their radar. But this time they’re more wary, there’s a little less excitement and a little more angst.

Maybe this next one works out, maybe it doesn’t. What I’d like to draw attention to is the emotions the shopper experienced during this tale.

It’s very natural for people to feel attached to outcomes, especially when it comes to a big dream or strong desire. And when we’re attached to an outcome, the stakes feel higher.

But we are not always able to control the outcome.

In this story, the RV shopper did the right thing by having a list of things to check for in the RV and bringing an experienced friend along for a second opinion. But despite being prepared, they did not get the outcome they desired, through no fault of their own. And they felt hurt because of it.

Adopting a pessimistic view is one way of managing expectations. The RV shopper could have gone in expecting that this RV wouldn’t work out, and then wouldn’t have felt so letdown when the RV turned out to be damaged. But looking at the world through that lens drains a lot of joy from it. The shopper would have been less disappointed, but they wouldn’t have gotten to experience the positive emotions either – the excitement of tracking down a good match.

I find that the best way to hold onto the good emotions while minimizing the bad is to put the focus more on the journey and less on the outcome.

What we put our attention on, grows. The shopper invested emotionally in the outcome, which created stress because they had limited control over it. But what if they invested emotionally in the journey instead? They could view the experience of RV shopping not as a means to an end, but an end in and of itself. Instead of a failed attempt at buying an RV, it was a successful attempt at spotting water damage – a pretty handy skill to have when you’re going to be living in one!

This one simple shift in perspective changes the whole feel of the story… and the mood of the shopper. It makes the hunt for the right RV not a drudgery that must be endured on the way to full-timing, but a valuable learning experience that will continue to pay off after being on the road.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where you didn’t get the outcome you were hoping for, I challenge you to change the story. How can you extract some value from that experience, and turn it from a negative one to a positive one?

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Michael on December 31, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks, again you’ve given me something to think about. That seems to happen often here. Robert Frost said ” In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life : It goes on.” I would like to wish you a Happy New Year!

  2. Linda Sand on December 21, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Changing my perspective is what makes living back in Minnesota in the winter after years of full-time RVing possible. Proof, I think, that this can be done about any situation. πŸ™‚

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      I believe it can too, Linda! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Esther on December 21, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Awesome advice for everyday, everywhere living… πŸ™πŸ»

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Esther!

      • Roberta Garrett on December 23, 2018 at 2:45 pm

        I couldn’t figure out how to comment except for replying…
        When I had my older and not perfect RV for sale I enjoyed meeting people and made a friendship from one prospective buyer! There were also a couple of people wanting it for free that that told me I was greedy for not giving it to them, lol!

        • Becky on December 26, 2018 at 1:05 pm

          Roberta, if you scroll to the bottom of the comments there’s a box to leave your own comment without replying. πŸ™‚

          And yeah, you meet all kinds when buying/selling an RV. Glad you found a friend through it!

  4. Barbara from Camano Island on December 21, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Kudos to you! What wonderful advice. Thank you.

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      You’re welcome Barbara. πŸ™‚

  5. Atomic Pod on December 21, 2018 at 10:56 am

    This is such valuable advice for all aspects of life. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed this.

  6. Bill Murdock on December 21, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Your advice to focus on the journey and not the destination is so very wise and appropriate. If we stay focused on β€œbeing present and fully aware” in the moment we get so much more joy out of our lives. Becoming more focused on the present/journey is a life-long process.

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      For sure Bill. This isn’t a skill a person learns in a weekend and then never needs to think about again. It’s a state of mind that needs to be actively cultivated with frequent reminders.

  7. Mary McGee on December 21, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I needed this today. Thanks for the on point post. You really helped me with your wise words. Came at the perfect time.

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that this post came at a good time for you Mary!

  8. Mary on December 21, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Thank you. Well said. Ok, what did we learn here? How do we apply it ? Chance favors the prepared mind. While person A is busy kicking the curb, person B is looking up and out having assimilated the new information.

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      It’s definitely easier to make progress on a dream when a person ditches the victim mentality and takes charge of their own thoughts!

  9. Dan craig on December 21, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Great story. Seems similar to how I think. I consider my self a pessimistic optimist, I always exspect things to go wrong but still keep trying to find the silver lining.

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Dan.

  10. Phil Roll on December 21, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Wow – wise beyond your years. This is great advice. You would have made an excellent psychologist. Do you study Buddhism by any chance?

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Phil. I don’t study Buddhism, but I am big into mindfulness, deliberate living, and what people might call ‘internal work’.

  11. Leah on December 21, 2018 at 5:41 am

    Great post!

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks Leah!

  12. Yvonne Knowles on December 21, 2018 at 5:09 am

    Very inspiring post. Thanks for your insight. I shall endeavor to remember it! Merry Christmas! Yvonne

    • Becky on December 22, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      You’re so welcome Yvonne! Merry Christmas to you too!

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