Meet Lisa Jacobs of Vacay Vans
I started with dreams of becoming an actor, but that’s one of those professions that everyone tells you is a dream that’s impossible to achieve. I gave up on the dream for something more “practical,” studying psychology and eventually going to law school. I knew the actual day-to-day of being a lawyer wasn’t for me, but I understood that people would likely take me more seriously if I was a “lawyer.” After law school, I jumped into real estate investor and flipping houses in Austin, Texas, which I truly love. Renovating homes is the perfect combination art and business. It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the emotions the buyer feels when they enter their future home.
I focused on tiny homes and vintage trailers, renovating them with sustainable, upcycled materials. Then I started seeing the vanlife trend and realized that a cargo van could be thoughtfully designed to be a beautiful, fully off-grid home. I renovated a Nissan NV2500 camper van and it was my home for 2 years. I was a full-time wanderer, exploring the nooks and crannies of this vast country. I worked as an interior design consultant as a traveled and have invested in rental properties in Austin, Texas and Tucson, Arizona.
While I was “in it”– studying psychology, studying law, renovating houses, working at events– I felt like my life and interests were way too scattered. I felt confused and lost. But looking back, I can see how all these disparate interests all actually flow together. I use my law degree when executing contracts on my investment properties, I use my understanding of the human brain when designing and renovating homes, and I use what I’ve learned about writing and communication in law school when blogging about my life living in a camper van. Everything makes sense in the end, you just need to keep moving forward in the moment and don’t worry too much about the big picture.
What I “do” is always evolving. I renovate investment properties for long-term passive income, which is really fun because it’s on my terms. I do some legal consulting and design consulting. Recently I’ve starting consulting small businesses on social media strategies. I was able to grow my vanlife social media blog into a thriving community and I love helping small companies do the same. We all have a story to tell and helping companies tell theirs is a huge passion of mine.
For a long time I defined success as recognition by my peers and within my community. While it’s a great goal to bring value to those around you, if that’s your entire definition of success, you may feel a bit empty when you achieve it. Success can’t be wholly external because that may result in your being afraid to take controversial risks in your career and life because it might not be accepted by your community as a whole.
I’ve since learned that I need to define success privately, quietly, for myself. I’m still searching for the answers. To help me get there, I’ve been asking myself: what makes me feel successful when no one else sees it or knows about it? Spending a lot of time alone during covid-19 quarantine is helping me dig into that truth for myself. It’s a work in progress.