Living for Yourself So You Won’t Die Full of Regrets

Happy Man Jumping

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown

A mother was walking down the street with her two little sons. A man stopped to admire them and he asked, “You must be so proud of them! How old are they?” The mother answered, “Who? The doctor or the lawyer?”

A few days ago I heard this joke and, despite its purpose, it just made me feel sad. I was one of those children who, when turned into adults, never explored their passions and never went for their dreams.

I loved writing. I mean I could write for hours without feeling tired or hungry.

I was so happy to express myself through my poetry. Fast-forward fifteen years: I was working as a finance manager in a top multinational company. I woke up one day and I just couldn’t move. I mean literally, I couldn’t leave the bed, I was so unhappy.

Thinking about it, I was just like the upgraded version of my mother, who had been working all her life as an accountant in a small company.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my mother. I love her so much that I could do anything just to see her happy, including embracing a career that I do not love, just to make her feel that I will be safe. Because I will be, right? What’s not safe about a management job that pays so well?

But if this career is supposed to make me feel safe, why am I feeling like I am losing the most important battle of my life?

Been there, done that. Hopefully, I am one of those who, in the end, managed to find themselves again. Unfortunately, I had to watch my father dying full of regrets just to be able to finally do this.

So, what about you? If the joke above resonated with you in a not-so-funny way, you may want to consider this:

Understand your story.

Who were you as a child? What did you enjoy doing? Did you stop doing the things you enjoyed? When? Why? What have you learned about working from the people who had some authority in your life (parents, grandparents, brother, sister, teachers you admired)?

Own your story.

It is what it is and you can’t change the past. Allow yourself to be angry for a moment. Acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay; just don’t get stuck at being angry.

Negative emotions will not help you or anyone else. Turn them into forgiveness. And then be grateful. People are dying each day being full of regrets; they don’t have any time left to change anything about their lives, but you do. You still do.

Make a plan for yourself.

Make it a daily/weekly routine to get in touch with your true self. What is your definition of being happy? Are you happy? Spend ten minutes each day, whenever you have the time, thinking about the things you really enjoyed. Is there a way to bring them back into your current life? How? When? Schedule it.

In most cases, you don’t have to change your whole career, or even your current job. You just have to incorporate more things you love into your life.

Make it happen: stick to the plan like it’s your most important project right now.

It won’t be easy. Of course, you have your very limited free time and your responsibilities, kids to take care of, or you’re just traveling a lot. Still, you are your most important asset. And unless you are going to take responsibility for your happiness, no one else is going to. Furthermore, what do you want your kids to learn from you about life?

Finally, please get yourself out of the “when vehicle.”

When you’ll get that raise, when you’ll buy that bigger house, after you’re back from that wonderful trip, once your kids are going to leave for college… life happens to us while we are waiting for some distant event to take place.

Smell the roses that are now growing in your small garden. You’ll feel instantly better. And that’s a promise.

Happy man jumping image via Shutterstock

About Olivia Angelescu

Olivia’s mission is to help more people start and build a freedom business they love. She provides FREE business and personal development training for entrepreneurs at She has prepared a worksheet you can use to build your own list of meaningful things you want to teach your kids. Download it here:

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  • Michael Scott Dembesky

    Great article & so insightful… as usual, just what I needed to hear, thank You!! & congrats to you on your journey!!!

  • Talya Price

    Thank you for this. I have been feeling depressed today and it has made me feel a little bit better.

  • It takes great courage & commitment to pursue ones passions & desires without changing the career. However, there lies one of the secrets of a happy & purposeful life.

  • Dear Lennae, thank you for your comment!

  • Michael, I am glad you found my post useful! Thank you for your kind words.

  • Talya, if by my post I have made someone feel better, then my mission is accomplished for today! Depression days can teach you some valuable things about yourself and your purpose, don’t ignore them.

  • I totally hear you!

  • Talya Price

    Thank you so much for the nice reply. I do believe that our bad days can teach us something valuable about life. I never ignore by bad days, I embrace them for all that they are worth.

  • Hi Olivia
    Loved this contains a very important message. Many years ago, a series of very challenging circumstances really caused me to go within and figure out what I really wanted out of life. I got that clarity, and decided I would find a way. Fast forward a few years later, I am living the exact life I wanted…traveling long-term and earning money through freelance writing. At the time I decided I wanted this, I had no idea how it would happen, but I kept that vision and developed some faith in the Universe.

    It is so important to go after what we want—many of us just settle into lives we don’t want for a million different reasons, and think we can’t change but we can.

  • Hi Kelli, it is great and inspiring to read about people who managed to defeat whatever was holding them back. I know for sure that it is not an easy task. But it is definitely worth trying.
    In the end, our life is not just a repetition for something else, for a more meaningful one, so we owe it to ourselves to try to change the things which are not working for us.

  • Rhymis

    I feel you, Olivia. I used to think that writing would just be a hobby because as a kid I never thought I could make a living as one. It went on even in college, where I wondered whether I should pursue. After a few years of working, I realized that I wanted to really live the life of a writer. It’s harder, but I’m happier.

  • Hi Rhymis. Having myself experienced this and understanding how both hard and meaningful the whole process is, I want to say that I am really, really happy for you!! I would be very interested to learn more about your story, as writting is something that I am also deeply attracted to. 🙂

  • Jenny

    I find it so difficult to follow my dream to be a writer/photographer. It’s such a difficult unpredictable field to get it to and succedd in. I’ve been told to find a financially secure, safe job and pursue my dreams on the side, where they may turn into something. This scares me because we’ve all heard those stories where, “this was suppose to be a temporary job till a became a _________ but time flew and I’ve been here 15 years now!”

    I also hear that I should go head on for my dreams- start small, work my way up and find success in my dream job this way. This scares me also because who says I’ll make it, it could be a waste of time.

    It’s a constant battle of being true to myself and being realistic and smart.