Why I Started This Blog
Updated: Feb 27
When my Mom passed away from cancer in 2014, I learned the hard way how short life really is.
This isn't one of those cancer sob stories though. Despite, the pain of losing a parent in my early 20's I was simultaneously deeply inspired by my Mom to strive to create a healthy, free, adventurous, meaningful, and interesting life. She taught everyone around her life is too short to waste a minute doing something you don't like. When her time unexpectedly came in her mid-50's she didn't have any regrets with how she lived.
Along my journey to build an intentional life these last 5 years, I've been occasionally posting some of the writing to Medium without much self-promotion. A few smart millennials I've never met in person stumbled across the posts and reached out say they found value. This gave me confidence the content is useful and motivated me to create this site and start writing more. When I quit my job in July 2019, I found more time to reflect and write about the last 8 years.
My goal for Jamesvdl.com is simple.
It's to document the lessons I'm learning on my journey to create a healthy, free, adventurous, meaningful, and interesting life.
Hopefully, others can find value in these posts and save themselves from some of the mistakes I've made along the way.
Where I Am in My Journey at Age 28
To accomplish the goal of living a more intentional and healthy life, the first logical step was to work towards financial freedom. This is why I started my first business, Cleardesk, as a junior in college.
Cleardesk was my "muse" (as Tim Ferriss calls it in 4 Hour Work Week) that allowed me to spend countless hours soaking up podcasts, testing out wellness ideas, and travel all over Europe.
Eventually, I hit a peak. A lot of the time, I was isolated, and I didn't have a clear vision for where to take the business next. The thought of expanding and being personally responsible for more employees made me cringe at age 24. I wanted to find my "tribe," work in a high-growth startup, apply myself at a higher level, and work on something bigger than myself. Luckily, I met an entrepreneur that was ready to raise $4 million and wanted me to do just that.
So in 2016, I sold my business to join a venture-backed startup called Ceterus. We doubled revenue every year, and went through 3 rounds of financing. I'm very proud of the work I did there and learned a ton. For the 3.5 years there, I made pretty good money, but it was more about the opportunity to learn in a high-growth startup.
In 2019, I hit another peak. I felt creatively stifled, unfulfilled and stagnant in my job. I realized it was time to move on, so I have 3 weeks of notice, with no plan to get a new job.
Let me be clear...
I'm not on here to post pictures of me with a rented Lambo, or sell you a bunch of nonsense.
I'm most definitely not "set for life" yet. I'm on a journey.
I believe in full transparency, and I loathe fake people and content. Everyone reads through it eventually. More importantly, people who make a living selling snake oil are never fulfilled. Not to mention, they usually end up giving away all their money to poor investments, strip clubs, showy cars, and buying fake friends.
...But at age 28 I have set myself up financially to take at least 18 months off work and follow my dream of traveling the world and following creative pursuits without financial stress.
Everyone is somewhere in their journey. I'm still not where I want to be, and neither should you. The minute you stop growing is the minute you start dying.
Over the next 18 months, I plan to take my life to next level on every level - physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. I plan to write about those experiences as well as some of the ways I've been able to set myself up for this sabbatical in the past.
As I write this from Zin Cafe in Canggu, Bali. I'm looking out onto this amazing mural that describes the lifestyle I'm chasing. Well, as a minimalist, not the shopping. But pretty much everything else in the picture looks a lot better to me than a Lambo.