We had the good fortune of connecting with Marc and Julie Bennett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marc and Julie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance is a high value for us, yet it’s not so easy to attain – and maintain – in reality. It was actually much easier for us to maintain a healthy work life balance back when Marc was working for an employer. He was really disciplined about finishing work on time and switching off. He almost never answered emails or took work calls after hours. I, Julie on the other hand, had a history of workaholism in my prior life (while living in Sydney, Australia) that I wanted to change. And Marc set such a positive example for me. I was inspired by witnessing the example he set in such healthy behaviors around his work. Especially as it was so evident how beneficial that was to him – in his life, his health and wellbeing – and our relationship! But in 2016, Marc’s work-life boundaries were pushed by his employer by such unhealthy levels that it had a serious impact on his mood, level of happiness and physical health. He would experience bouts of PHN – post herpetic nerve pain – which took a toll mentally, emotionally and physically. It is usually triggered by stress, and it’s almost always a sign that his work life balance is off. In 2017, Marc hit a breaking point and we both agreed restoring his health and balance was more important than his job. So Marc quit and joined me in taking the side business I’d been working on – RVLove.com – to the next level, together. It’s definitely harder to manage work-life balance when you are self employed. Our income is directly related to what we produce, and there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. It’s harder to switch off at the end of the day – and working together with a spouse isn’t easy either! Especially when living and working together 24/7 in a 350sqf motorhome! Our work, life and business were intertwined, so there really wasn’t much balance at all for most of that time. We have learned that having the ability to physically separate our work/office from our home life is super important in setting healthy boundaries. But we need to constantly stay vigilant and make ourselves switch off, disconnect and go out to do something fun. We’ve had our ups and downs along the way – and the downs always correlate with the times where we’ve let our work-life balance slip into unhealthy territory. We continue to grow and learn, and we’re better than we were… but we haven’t achieved the ideal level of work-life balance that we would ideally like – yet. So this year, we hired a business coach and two employees which is already starting to make a difference. We are improving our systems. We’re learning to say NO to people and things that don’t align with our values. And we don’t measure our success by money or metrics. Success to us is measured by our level of happiness, our health and above all, our relationship. And we’ve learned all of that is closely tied to our work-life balance. If that gets off track, so do we – personally and as a couple. Our relationship is priority #1. Balance is almost an art form, and not easy to achieve. It ebbs and flows depending on the situation, events and projects. But we’re just continually learning to say no, setting healthy boundaries (with others and ourselves) and keep shifting the focus back to creating balance for ourselves and each other. We’re works in progress, but we’re optimistic about achieving balance again… soonish, we hope!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We fell into our current career and business quite serendipitously. We decided we wanted more travel and freedom in our lives, and we wanted to spend more time together. So we sold our Colorado home, bought an RV and hit the road to live, work and travel full time while exploring North America. We visited all 50 USA states in 3.5 years – while still working full time – and along the way we shared at our Blog and YouTube Channel as RVLove. After about 6 months, it really took off. We created the first online school for RVers. Then a publisher reached out and asked us to write “the roadmap to a mobile life”. One of the things we are most proud of is our book “Living the RV Life – Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road” (Simon and Schuster). It quickly became a bestseller and entered its 3rd print run within the first 6 months. And while we are grateful for that, the thing we’re most proud of is the impact the book has had on the lives of so many others. Hearing their stories when we meet them, or reading their emails and messages – realizing the decisions they have made are often life changing. That is huge. RV life isn’t considered ‘normal’ by the rest of society. It takes a lot of courage to get off the treadmill of life and take the roads YOU want to travel on. As an RVer and as a business owner, you really need to learn how to be self sufficient, be willing to adapt and stay true to what is most important to you. We have learned that watching or focusing on others, what they do and how they do it isn’t the best use of our time or energy. But by focusing instead on how WE can help and serve others, and make a positive difference – and by living our own lives as an inspiring example for ourselves – is what keeps us authentic and keeps us going. We’ve learned to trust and follow what feels right for us, instead of what the rest of the crowd is doing. We stay focused on the long goal – more of a marathon than a sprint – and so we really strive to live our lives and build our business in a way that is personally sustainable and enjoyable. It has to be fun! Our audience can feel the love we have for each other and what we do – and that’s a special kind of energy that has helped us build our brand authentically and organically over the years. It may sound corny, but we genuinely do love to help people find ways that they can live their own best life… and we love to create the content, tools and resources to help them do that. Don’t follow the crowd, take off the busy-ness badge, and start taking small steps in the direction you really want to head in. Sometimes people just need a little bit of encouragement – or to see that someone else before them has done it. And that sparks the thought inside of them… “maybe I can do it too!?” Next thing you know, they are! Life is a series of choices, and you don’t have to settle for the “normal”. Don’t be afraid to think differently, to live differently. The naysayers who thought we were making a huge mistake 7 years ago when we sold our home and drove off into the sunset in a 36′ motorhome have now come around and realized, maybe we were onto something after all… because it’s led to so much more than our travel adventures. We’ve ended up building a business too, and changed our lives personally in a really profound way. We are all here to discover how to really live and love our lives. But somehow along the way we all get caught up in societal expectations of what life and success is supposed to look like. Now with the events of 2020, a lot of people are starting to question all that, and despite the many challenges, we see it leading to great things. Work from wherever you want, start a business, go travel, take a risk – what have you got to lose?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, that’s a bit hard to answer in the middle of a pandemic! But Colorado has so many amazing places to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. We would take our besties out of the big city and head to the Western Slope to visit the little mountain towns. Start in Grand Junction and take your time exploring Colorado National Monument – it’s amazing! Hit the many scenic trails in a Jeep take a trip to Ouray/Telluride – take the Last Dollar Road from Ridgeway to Telluride and be prepared to be wowed. Keep an eye out for Ralph Lauren’s Double R Ranch along the way! Take the free Gondola to Telluride Mountain Village – at any time of year – and spend a couple of hours or the entire day. There are so many great food options, so try a few as your budget allows! Soak in the hot springs in Ouray, drive the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton to visit the old Colorado mining town. Take a trip to Aspen and camp in the national forest, visit Maroon Bells of course and stroll the main street browsing the galleries and shops. Go to the bathroom in the Little Nell, Aspen, where the celebrities stay. Stop in at historic Redstone and take in the beauty of this special place that most have never heard of. Just go west and explore – you can’t go wrong!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our RVing friends Dennis and Donna Baril have become a wonderful source of love, support and ‘peer-ental advice’ – especially during hard times. They have surprised us with restaurant gift cards to go on a date night, knowing that restoring our love and connection is at the heart of getting back on track.
Some photos are taken by a professional photographer – GabrielaPhoto.com – image credit is noted as appropriate in the image name