Few topics hold my attention better than fear.
For years, watching my own fears and working to understand them has been an addictive hobby of sorts. Watching their impact on my decisions and the resulting shape of my world has actually been a central part of my personal growth.
And my full-time RV living fears were some of the most disabling I have experienced.
That’s right, at no point was my fear on more full display than when my family started moving in the direction of full-time RVing. Those weeks were just one big “fear fest”, actually.
Now, I would like to say I was able to use the framework I am about to share with you to move through that phase of my life wisely and gracefully. But that would be a lie.
No, the only thing that pulled me through the fear of that phase, which reduced me pretty much to nodding and pointing for a couple of days, was the patience and gentle questions of my wife. God bless her.
I hope you have someone that could help you through a similar phase of your life. At the same time, I don’t want you to have to depend on someone else to process that fear; that step is just too important.
There is a better way to process that fear of full-time RVing, on your own, and I want to share it with you.
Full-Time RV Living Fears: 7 Questions to Move You Forward
I want you to know ahead of time that neither fear nor the question of full-time RV living are new topics on the site. Nope, it has been pretty central to sharing our experience with you from the beginning:
- Is Full-Time RV Living Right for YOU?
- The Top 5 Fears Full-Time RVers Face Before Hitting the Road
- 5 Fears That Almost Kept Us From Living the Full-Time RV Life
- Is RV Living Worth It? A Look Back On 17 Months of Full-Time Travel
- Life After Full-Time RVing: The Financial Reality of Selling Our Truck and Trailer
And in fact, I’ve written an ebook all about deciding whether full-time RV living is right for you as well. It might be your next step forward after going through the process in this post.
But let’s get back to processing through that fear that is standing between you and a life out on the open road. That’s why we’re all here, right?
Fear-Setting: A Priceless Practice for Evaluating Options
So I know this guy…okay I don’t know know him. But I’ve been following him online and reading his books for more than a decade.
His name? Tim Ferriss.
If you don’t know him, and you’re interested in life-hacking and personal development in general, I highly suggest you check out his blog and podcast and subscribe to his “5 Bullet Friday” newsletter. You may not agree with every perspective, but I am confident you will find great value there to move yourself forward.
Fear-setting is a practice that I discovered thanks to Tim. He uses the fear-setting practice multiple times per year to direct his life, and he covers it in full detail (along with countless other pieces of golden wisdom and advice from the world’s top performers) in his book Tools of Titans pictured above. Highly recommended reading!
“Fear-setting has produced my biggest business and personal successes, as well as repeatedly helped me to avoid catastrophic mistakes.”
My goal is to help you walk through the fear-setting practice applied directly to the possibility of choosing the full-time RV life. I think you will find it both enlightening and freeing regardless of whether it points you toward or away from full-time RVing.
Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of it, which are penetrating questions which force you to confront your fear directly and honestly. The questions below spring directly from Tim’s questions and I have simply focused them on the scenario of full-time RV living. I take no credit for coming up with the substance of the questions.
Question 1: What is the absolute worst that could happen if I choose the full-time RV life? What is my “nightmare” scenario?
This seems like a logical place to start, right? Let’s put a face on the nebulous fear that has been consuming you for weeks, maybe even months or years. It is logical start, but it’s not typical.
For some reason, many of us struggle to even adequately define the fear that is paralyzing us. The fear arises in large part from the simple fact that full-time RVing is not “normal”, it’s not the “expected” thing for us to do, it is outside of “ordinary”, it is against the societal flow. That reality can stir up both fears of failing at this type of adventure, as well as fears of being looked down on or ridiculed for the choice to pursue it.
You are facing two enemies, but both of them are within you: (1) your discomfort with the inherent uncertainty of the lifestyle, and (2) your discomfort with the thought that people might think less of you.
As you stare this down, the goal is to define and envision your nightmare in excruciating detail, to the point where you feel it in your gut. What would it feel like if you “failed” at full-time RVing or simply didn’t like it after choosing?
The follow-up questions Tim recommends:
- Would your life actually end?
- Would there be a permanent negative impact? If so, rank its severity on a scale of 1-10.
- Are these possible outcomes that you fear truly permanent?
- Do you feel that it is likely that these things would happen? Or is it just a remote possibility?
I truly wish I had had the opportunity to work my way through these questions when I was suffocating in my own sea of uncertainty back in 2017. There is little doubt it could have quickly moved me into a much better head space.
“Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows. Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”
Question 2: If things do not go as planned with full-time RV living, what steps could I take to reverse course and/or repair the damage?
I find this question especially valuable because it helps to shine a light on the things that you truly value the most.
For instance, in our situation, choosing this path meant that we were choosing to sell or give away 90% of our possessions and just keep a small storage unit for essentials and keepsakes. If we had given all of that up and then the whole plan had gone off the rails, I would not have considered the loss of those possessions a “damage” to my life. For me, lightening my load was still a step forward. I knew that I could easily replace these items later, if necessary, for a reasonable amount of money.
So consider where you find yourself on that issue: Does offloading most of your possessions terrify and depress you, or exhilarate you? Would you feel “damaged” without them?
Please, be as honest with yourself as you possibly can. Set aside any feelings of guilt or shame that might come up and just be honest about what matters to you. There is no right or wrong here, there is just right for you.
An additional perspective
Question 2 also points to the fact that making the smartest financial decisions possible going into this endeavor will help mitigate any damage on the back end. In other words, buying your truck and/or RV with caution and with an eye toward an eventual exit will likely reduce the amount of financial damage you could potentially experience.
For more on choosing your RV setup wisely, you can take a look at my post: You Need Less RV Than You Think.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
Question 3: What are the more probable outcomes, both internal and external, of this choice to full-time RV?
Now that you have really put some flesh on your worst fears and defined your nightmare, it’s time to swing back to the other side of the equation with this question. We want to look at what is not only possible with this decision but even probable.
- What do you believe you will most likely gain on a mental, emotional and physical level by choosing the full-time RV lifestyle?
- Do you believe you can actually save money living this lifestyle and put yourself in a better financial situation? (Do some honest and rigorous research before answering this one, and read our very honest post about the costs of full-time RVing based on our experience.)
- How would these more likely outcomes impact your life for the good? Rank these positive outcomes on a scale of 1-10.
A little further guidance from Tim on this question to help you round things out:
“How likely is it that you could produce at least a moderately good outcome? Have less intelligent people done this before and pulled it off?”
If the financial fears and uncertainty about the actual costs of this lifestyle are leading the way for you, I encourage you to check out my 21 tips for living in an RV without going broke. I offer plenty of practical advice for RVing smartly and avoiding some of the financial pitfalls of the lifestyle. We’ve lived it. I really think you will find it valuable.
Wrapping Up Our First Three Questions
These first three questions that we covered, straight from Tim’s own practice, are the “meat and potatoes” of the fear-setting process that he values so highly. Give them a good chunk of your time and all of your attention, and be as honest with yourself as you possibly can as you answer them.
Here are the three questions again to recap:
- Question 1: What is the absolute worst that could happen if I choose the full-time RV life? What is my “nightmare” scenario?
- Question 2: If things do not go as planned with full-time RV living, what steps could I take to reverse course and/or repair the damage?
- Question 3: What are the more probable outcomes, both internal and external, of this choice to full-time RV?
If you’re a numbers person like me, you will probably be very happy to have your ranking of a possibly negative outcome up against the ranking of a more likely positive outcome. If you have been honest about your situation, these two numbers are crucial to pay attention to. They may just point the way to your best life.
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
Our Final Four Questions for a Deeper Dive
Now, when I go through an exercise like this, it doesn’t feel very “real” to me until I have externalized it by sharing it with a trusted relative or friend. If you are wired similarly, seek someone out to share your results with and welcome their perspective on things as well.
But remember, at the end of the day, your opinion is the only one that truly counts here. Find that true opinion and stick to it regardless of fear, uncertainty or your lack of popularity.
And now let’s wrap up with Tim’s final four questions that build on top of the foundation of these first three:
- Question 4: “If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to get things under financial control?” (Removes the control/decision issue from your hands to shake things up a bit.)
- Question 5: “What are you putting off out of fear?” (Tim’s perspective: “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”)
- Question 6: “What is it costing you—financially, emotionally, and physically—to postpone action?”
- Question 7: “What are you waiting for?” (Seriously consider the cost of inaction on all fronts of your life.)
“Fear is the pathway to a life half-lived.”
Do You Feel You’ve Made Progress with Your Full-Time RV Living Fears?
Of course, it is my sincere hope that pointing you toward these questions will help you move forward with confidence. Whether that means you move toward full-time RVing or away from it hardly matters. The important thing is to take action to move your life forward and not allow yourself to settle into neutral because of fear and uncertainty.
Please be sure to take a closer look at Tim’s full post on fear-setting. He obviously goes into more depth there than I have, but I hope that having the questions pointed toward this BIG question of full-time RV living has helped you see things clearly and put things into perspective as well.
Let me know in the comments below how these questions have helped you reframe the next steps of your life! I’m excited to hear from you.
Todd Bonner is the slightly quieter half of the dynamic TREKKN duo. He spends most of his time sharing information about RV travel and safety, RV accessories and tips, and the National Parks he has visited and still desperately craves. When he’s not busy working on TREKKN, you will often find him staring at breathtaking pictures of Glacier National Park, probably his favorite spot on earth.