Appreciation – live life without regrets

I have been on the road for business the last few days. Between plane rides, customer meetings, and customer dinner, I ended up having to check my emails late at night to avoid any email delays (didn’t help when there are a few critical issues that I’m trying to resolve). Last night just before going to bed, I decided to take one last look at my work inbox to make sure I didn’t miss anything urgent. I saw an email from a customer of mine that caught my attention immediately. The email title simply stated: A loss of a friend…

The customer informed me that one of his co-workers, whom I have been working for the past 5 or 6 years, had passed away suddenly and unexpected from heart attack. Shocked and not sure what to say, I sent my condolence.

As you may recall, a co-worker of mine passed away earlier this year due to ALS. Knowing ALS and its affects to human body, my other co-workers and I knew the sad news would come one day. But still, we weren’t ready when the news came. The passing of this customer of mine was completely unexpected and very sudden. I was completely shocked when I read the email. I realized that human lives are unpredictable. We simply can’t take things for granted.

Upon receiving this tragic news, I found myself awake, no longer sleepy. So I sat in my hotel room chair pondering and reflecting on life, more specifically work. Does the traditional thinking of climbing the corporate ladder really make sense? Climbing the corporate ladder typically means higher salary but it also means more responsibilities, longer work hours, more business travels, and more stress. All these result in less time with the family, less time to exercise, and less time to do things that you enjoy.

While some jobs may sound very appealing due to all the perks. The fact is, every job has its dark side.

My full-time job may sound really neat – I get to travel oversea, I get to dine at fancy restaurants with customers, and I get to stay at fancy hotels. But my job also has its dark side – waking up at 4 AM in the morning due to jet lag and unable to back to sleep sucks; going through some rough turbulence while wondering in my mind all the what if’s sucks; getting stuck in the airport due to flight delays is no fun; and having to dine and drink with customers can get old very fast, especially when I don’t usually drink.

My photography job may sound really neat – I get paid over $2,000 a wedding gig, I get to be creative during my shoots, and I get to work with some really attractive models. But my photography job has its dark side too – shooting a couple’s most important day of their lives can be stressful, having to spend 40+ hours in front of a computer to edit hundreds of pictures after a wedding or a photo shoot session is tiring, dealing with demanding clients is tiring, and having to put up with diva attitudes can really kill creativity.

Grass is always greener on the other side. Trust me, I have been down this path many times and I can tell you that… Grass isn’t always greener on the other side. 

We work because we need the money. So we only get to enjoy our lives outside of work hours and on weekends.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it’s the other way around?

We get to enjoy our lives every day. We don’t need to worry about money because our passive income can take care of our expenses. We “work” because we want to, not because we have to.

When you work because you enjoy what you do and not about the money, and you can stop at any time, you have all the power.

Your employer no longer have you by the throat, you can be very selective on who to take on as your client, and you can say no and turn down money.

That’s why I am so motivated to become financially independent. Being financially free means I have the power, I have the choice, I have freedom.

Earlier this year, this customer of mine that just passed told me that he was taking his family to Europe. It was his family’s first time to Europe. All of them have been wanting to go to Europe together as a family and explore the different European cities. He was looking forward to finally spend more time with his family and have some quality time with his family. I congratulated him to be able to go on an extended family vacation and to fulfill their dream of exploring different countries in Europe. It reminded me of my grandparents…. they talked about traveling in Japan extensively after my grandpa’s retirement. But my grandpa never saw this dream come true. He passed away 2 years before his retirement date.

Life is unpredictable. We can be here today and we can be gone tomorrow. We all need to appreciate all the time we have in life and maximize our time on Earth. Do things that we truly enjoy. Spend time with our family and friends. We cannot buy time and we cannot get younger. We shouldn’t be slaving ourselves away in our 9-5 jobs and climbing the corporate ladder only to find ourselves missing precious moments in our lives, like our significant other’s birthday, our kids’ concert, our parents 50th year anniversary, or our family get-together.

Live life without regrets… that’s how we should live.

I will end this post with a quote from Dalai Lama.

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.


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38 thoughts on “Appreciation – live life without regrets”

  1. Condolences for your customer / co-worker. I guess it’s important to value every moment and be sure you won’t regret on what you do now when you look back. For me, I’m coming to terms with that a bit better. Before my attitude was quite ‘all or nothing’ but now it’s a bit of both and I have better balance I think.

    You never know when life will end, so make sure you’re happy in the now 🙂


  2. Sorry to hear about your coworker, and I really enjoyed your post.

    Sometimes I wonder if the grass is greener trap applies to FI, as well. That whatever issues we dislike about work might follow us in financial independence (if we keep working in some capacity) or early retirement, if we leave work altogether. Only one way to find out, but I do see a lot of the same “things will be better someday” thinking being applied in the personal finance community, myself included.

    • True about the grass is greener for FI. I think the key is that we need to be happy now. Reaching FI doesn’t automatically make you happy. If you’re not happy now, you won’ be happy when you’re financial independent.

  3. Sorry to hear about your friends. That’s what happens when you get older. We are hearing more about friends passing too. It’s unsettling and it was one of the catalysts for my early retirement. I realized that life is short and we need to live the way we want. FI is the way for us to do that. Take care of yourself and your family. Wise words from the Dalai Lama.

    • Thanks Joe. It’s touch hearing people that you work closely dying unexpectedly. It really puts things in perspective. This is why FI is the way to go, taking charge of your own time.

  4. Great post and sorry to hear about your friend. Balance is extremely important because we have a finite time here on Earth, and it can be interrupted at any point. A good friend of ours died when he was around 40 from a heart attack while running. Even when sacrificing to obtain FI early, make sure you still have time for quality time with those that you love.

  5. Great stuff. I can relate to this. One of the things that spurred me into action was watching a few friends of mine die in what should have been the prime of their life. I take nothing for granted now. Our time here is a gift and we have to make the best of it.

  6. Life without regrets! so true. Enjoy the now, there might not be a tomorrow.

    Compared to other people on the journey, I do not hate my job. In fact, I migth do 60pct of that job even when I get FIREd. The 40pct are things I not really like. Those things also exist in real life (I have to go clean the kitchen after this comment…it is my turn) This is an action I took myself, to go after a job that is enjoyable. There is a dark side…I added a few years to my FIRE date compatred to my golen hadcuff job in a big corporate… I would make the mover any time.

    • That’s great you don’t hate your job. I like my job too but there’s dark side to it.

      Going after a job that is enjoyable is a great idea, because you’re making money and doing something that you enjoy.

  7. Good post Tawcan. The same Dalal Lama, when a reporter once asked him what amazes him about humans, he said, “You spend all your health accumulating wealth throughout your career and then spend your wealth to try to recover your lost health later in life!” This is what he finds amazing about modern humans.

  8. Hi Tawcan,
    I am struggling at the moment at my work (too much) and not having the fun I had in my previous position. I am not able to spend the time, I would like with my family. But to be FI, there is a price to pay.

    Wish you success and take care.

    Cheers, RA50

  9. Divicents hit on something I tend to try and remember. On your death bed no one says they wished they’d worked more hours. While I enjoy my job at the current level I’m at, I could potentially make some sacrifices and thus make much more. The thing is, would it be worth it. As you pointed out, with each rung of the corporate ladder more of your life gets sucked away. While I do feel its important to climb a little, there is a fine balance between getting that extra Xk a year and actually having time with family and friends. I’m thinking I’m about there with this phase in my life.

    • Unless you’re a workaholic I suppose. Working extra time simply isn’t worth it when you look back down the road. Spending time with your family and friends is way more important.

  10. Working the 9-5 does seem to get in the way of things and seems to hold you back from the things that you should be doing – enjoying life. I’ve been struggling lately with this as well while working toward FI.

    I finally decided to take a step back and try to enjoy the moment more. Stressing about the current day obviously won’t make FI come any sooner, so it’s better to take in life now (without forgoing the trip toward FI in the process). The day will be here before you know it!

    — Jim

  11. How tragic…hearing about someone’s death always puts things into perspective and makes you think about what is truly important in life. I think that is why the dream of FI is something I’ve been obsessing about, however, it’s important not to be so obsessed that you don’t appreciate the journey. As Divicents says…there needs to be balance. I don’t want to sound like a “complainypants” but FI feels like it is tough for me living in a high cost area…moving away could work help but then I’d be living family and friends.

    • Hearing about someone’s death definitely put things into perspective and make you think about your life. Life is about finding a balance that will work for you. 🙂

  12. Funny you posted this today.

    On my drive into work this morning the DJ’s were talking about living life and regrets.

    They mentioned a survey where they said the #1 regret for people in their 80’s was that they wish they could have spent more time with the ones they loved rather than working so much.

    Sometimes, (today) I have to refocus why I’m trying to be FI. I can’t neglect my family today so I can (hopefully) have more free time with them in the future.

    There needs to be balance.

  13. I hope your customer got to take that trip to Europe with his family before his passing. Sorry to hear. Just got a reminder of this today, an extended family member passed away at the very young age of 30. You just never know.

  14. I’m sorry to hear about your customer’s death. And that your grandfather never saw his dream come true.

    With most corporate jobs higher pay means higher stress. There’s a tipping point where you have to determine what’s the extra money worth. It’s not an easy decision and it’s very personal.

    I like the Dalai Lama quote but I think it needs an addition – “I’m going to have kind thoughts about myself” too.

    • There’s definitely a tipping point and I believe this point is different for each individual and very personal.

      Agree that we should all be kind to ourselves too.

  15. Tawcan I think there is a typo in your post where you say something about slaving away at your 9 to 5 job. I bet you work a lot more hours than that. Sometimes you need to make sacrifices in order to reach FI quickly and this cost is usually in terms of quality family time. Everyone needs to find a proper balance for themselves and always remember that if you screw up your relationship with your family it is one of the biggest regrets that you will ever have. You seem have a good handle on things, keep living like your living and you will do fine. What is your planned arrival date at FI? I might come to the party!


    • Hi Mike,

      I guess people know 9-5 best. Yes many people work more hours than that (I sure do). I think the important thing is to find the proper balance so you can make money while still enjoy your life.

      Well we’re hoping to get to FI in 9 years but no set date yet.

  16. Great post Tawcan. Now that I’m FI, I find that I’m actually more appreciative of everything I have.

    Maybe it’s just I have more time to be appreciative now…or maybe my perspective on life has changes…I’m not certain.

    I am certain of one thing though — that life after quitting work is pretty darn great!


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