Don’t Look Back on Life with Regrets

no regrets

It is 16 years this fall that I packed the car and headed west from a town on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border.

Not sure if it was watching too many Brady Bunch episodes as a kid and always dreaming of living in that cool house they had, watching the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High one too many times, or my disdain for winter weather. Heck, it may have been all three.

Whatever it was, I had this fascination with moving to Southern California one day as a kid. That dream carried through into my high school and college years, then when I began life in the workplace back east.

Finally after tossing and turning on the decision, I pulled the trigger on the move at age 30 and away I went.

With 90 percent of my possessions loaded in a moving truck, and the rest of them jammed in my car, I hit the freeway and began a week-long journey to California.

In the process of such a move, I left behind family, a full-time job, security and more. In turn, I was getting no guarantees of work, living in an area where I knew no one, and lots of questions with few answers. On the bright side, there was that Southern California weather that always looked so appealing.

So what were some lessons to be learned from this experience? Among them were:

Lesson #1: Be prepared for some setbacks

Nothing typically goes the way we plan it, heck that might actually be a good thing. If everything fell into place just perfectly, we might just find this world a little too boring for our tastes. It is the setbacks and challenges in life that define who we really are and what we’re made of.

Lesson #2: Avoid the naysayers

Whether it is out of jealousy and/or the fact they were too scared to do it themselves, don’t let others get you down when you take such a big risk in life. Other than my parents full support, I had plenty of people telling me I would last at best six months in California and would be returning home soon. I don’t want to say they didn’t care about me, maybe it was just they thought I was irrational for making such a move or would be disappointed when all was said and done?

Lesson #3: Remember why you’re doing this in the first place

Any adventure in life takes fortitude and the willingness to stick it out. There are plenty of opportunities to throw in the towel when taking risks, but is that what you really want? I’ve always lived by a simple adage that goes…. “Quitters never win, Winners never quit.”

Lesson #4: See the light at the end of the tunnel

As I made that cross country drive into the unknown, there were always opportunities to turn around and go home. You have to see the big picture in life and not just live the moment, especially when those moments are challenging. Taking months to find a job, bills piling up, no familiar faces around etc. can prove challenging for anyone. Remember, though, what is your ultimate goal and can you see it taking place?

Lesson #5: Reap the Rewards

They say you have to live through some tough times to enjoy the good times. While I do have some belief in that thought, it doesn’t mean life has to be pure hell before you get to the good stuff. When some good things do come along, appreciate them because you earned them.

* * *

It has been over a decade now since the packed car left the driveway of my parents’ home one fall morning and I’m still in Southern California.

I’ve been through a divorce, a job layoff, several relationships, some tough financial times and more.

Through it all, not only have I had the support of the best parents a guy could ask for, but I’ve had the support of one other person: me.

Whenever things get a little rough, I remind myself of one thing, I’ve lived my dream. I don’t say this out of arrogance, but how many people get to say that in this one life we get? For me, the term regrets isn’t a part of my life.

Whether I’m in Southern California one more day, 10 more years, 20 years etc…. I could die tomorrow at peace knowing that I got way more out of life than I ever could have dreamed of. Oh, yes, I got my dream too!

Photo by rappensuncle

15 thoughts on “Don’t Look Back on Life with Regrets”

  1. That was great! I’ll take your advice, reminding myself when things get tough that I’ve lived my dream. Good on you, for living yours! Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Dave; we all need to hear this sort of thing a lot more.

  2. Regret is the quickest way to never start a project again.

    People need to realize that they’re going to make mistakes. And to live with those mistakes is courageous, or something. Maybe a little less dramatic, but still.

    When it comes down to it, it’s about working hard and doing your best, and when something goes wrong, you just laugh it off.

    Anyone who can do that can accomplish “practically” anything.

  3. Hi David,

    Great post Dave…The important key thing that people need to remember is to focus on their main goal and passion…If you have enough passion you can get through as many setbacks that come along….Great things always happen later on in life (although they can happen earlier also)…Success compounds overtime and suddenly you make a breakthrough…

    Thanks for sharing..


  4. I appreciate the heartfelt writing, Dave.

    It’s really encouraging to hear that despite your setbacks, you got your dream. Your story is living proof that, at the end of the day, it’s less about what you accomplish, and more about who you’ve become through your pursuits.

    It’s evident that you’ve become a person of greater wisdom, insight and character.

    I’ve been on my own journey recently that’s been full of setbacks. I’ve been trying to become a published author. After countless rejections and disappointments, I finally found a publisher who was interested in my book project. The book will be published early next year.

    I now realize that the true prize isn’t the book or my status as “published author.” The true prize is who I’ve grown to become through the whole process.

    I’ve heard a saying that goes:

    Many succeed momentarily by what they know;
    Some succeed temporarily by what they do;
    Few succeed permanently by what they are.

    How true!

    Thanks for sharing, Dave.

  5. Hi All,

    Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like a cliche….but being born in and living in the U.S. offers so many opportunities. It is what you do with those opportunities that counts. We have time when we’re older and retired to look back on what we did and didn’t do correctly in life. In the meantime, get out there and live it.

  6. Sounds much like my own story. Just had enough of the East coast – and looking for a change. A big change. Best decision I ever made.

    Glad to hear you have done the same thing. Awesome.

  7. Hi, Dave,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I’ve always stuck to the motto: ‘No regrets, Only lessons!’

    I’d like to challenge you on one point you mention, though. You wrote, ‘It is the setbacks and challenges in life that define who we really are and what we’re made of.’

    I’d like to suggest that it’s how we ‘respond and react’ to the setbacks and challenges in life that define who we really are and what we’re made of.

    After all, ‘Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.’

    All the best,

  8. Connie,
    Thanks for reading….your comment is very true. I could have explained it a little more clearly….but the part of “what we’re made of” was in essence saying that. I went through some challenges not long after getting to California. Having been brought up to face challenges head-on, I did only what I knew how to do. The best thing in these last 16 years is that I know with each passing year that I made the right move. While we never forget where we came from…. I know I found the place for the rest of my life.


  9. Life is just too short to go through it regretting what you should have done. When you look back on the last few years, you shouldn’t have to wonder how you wish you had done this or that and be completely sad because you can’t go back. Some things you can’t help and that you must accept. But if you have the ability to do something with your life, take it and control it. Your time is now to do whatever you want with it.

  10. Dave, 24 years ago I relocated from UK to USA. I am living my childhood dream in this land of opportunity…….. I do appreciate my birth country but home is definitely USA…. AND you have now inspired me to write about this experience. Here comes the Blog….. as I truly believe I can inspire others. Thank you

  11. I’m so glad I read this, thank you for sharing! I have always dreamed of living in Portland, Oregon and I hope to some day have the courage to do what you have done! I did make it to Oregon with my ex, but it was a tiny town in Southern Oregon and I found myself going through a divorce, extremely broke with no choice but to take salvage in Las Vegas (where my family is, and where I grew up). Congrats to you for following your dream!

  12. mahavir nautiyal

    Dear Dave,
    Your rather reckless drive to uncertainty but with a dream in your eyes, reminds me of Gautam Buddha. Despite persuasions of his father, he left the regal comforts of the palace to seek ways to mitigate suffering that human beings go through in life. He chose the life of an ascetic, underwent tremendous suffering in his austerity and meditation. One day he came back to the society, his wife and child, after attaining nirvana or enlightenment with some timeless messages of ethical conduct and awareness to minimize or to endure suffering. Perhaps those who dare, realize their dreams or at least they have the satisfaction of having tried. Goal is the journey itself.

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