Don’t Let Life Pass You By With Regret

Don't Let Life Pass You By With Regret

Regret is the worst. Don't let life pass you by with regrets. Regret is why I have a motto: Never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill.

Despite perpetual failure, I have continued to put myself out there. As a result, at least Financial Samurai has turned out to be one of the largest personal finance sites in the world with 1 million organic visitors a year.

All it took was diligently publishing three articles a week every week since 2009! You've got to have grit and consistency if you want to succeed.

Don't Let Life Pass You By With Regret

Once a quarter, I try and learn a new song on my trusty 12 year old Martin acoustic guitar.  I'm already behind.  Some are impossible to play, and others are impossible to sing.  This time around, I stumbled across a song that not only is easy to play, but also possible not to butcher.  The song is called “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town,” by Pearl Jam.

I've probably listened to this song a hundred times since it first came out in 1993, but I never really understood the meaning until now.  Isn't it weird how one can be so oblivious to a great tune, even memorizing the lyrics without ever understanding the message?  Again, we don't slow down and stop to consider, and as a result we go forward only scratching the surface of so many wonderful things.

“Small town,” is about a middle-aged woman stuck in a dinky, dusty old town.  When she was young, she struggled like hell to get out, but now she's given up and has accepted her fate.  There's no escaping anymore.  She's working at a small store, and in comes a nice looking man in fancy clothes with a nice car parked outside. 

He must be from a big town, she thinks to herself.  At first she doesn't recognize him, but after a while she finally begins to recall that he was her old flame from long ago. She's too embarrassed to say “hello” because nothing about her has changed excepted her age, so she let's him come and leave without saying a word. 

On she goes with her business as she wonders where he's off to.  She thinks about all the things she could have done.  She thinks about the life she could have had with him.

Really listen to the lyrics and think about the description above to soak in the meaning.  It took a couple hours of practicing and re-recording to understand every line.  I never want to look back and regret the things I didn't do. 

I want to go on a great adventure and keep pushing forward.  Don't you?  It's easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing over and over again.  You wake up, check your e-mails, cut the grass, make some lunch, watch TV, take a nap. 

Before you know it, life has passed you by.  I hope life doesn't go by too quickly. Before you make any decision, go through a regret minimization exercise to help you make better choices.

Readers, do you feel that life speed is accelerating?  Are there things that you have longed to do, but have never gotten around to it?  What's stopping you?  Do you ever try and understand some of your favorite songs?



To help you get to financial freedom, check out my top financial products page. Regret is the worst.

31 thoughts on “Don’t Let Life Pass You By With Regret”

  1. Guys, you need to listen to the song “Taxi” by Harry Chapin. For some reason, I keep playing the same song over and over again.

  2. Ah, I know what you mean. I was 31, with an MBA and an investment banking job, and thinking about going to law school. To be a criminal defense attorney. Almost everyone discouraged me and thought I was crazy. Except my old mentor who asked me, when i pondered graduating from law school at god forbid, 34, if I would rather be 34 and a lawyer or 34 and not one. I went and have never regretted it, and have never looked back. Go for your dreams and remember the country song…I’d rather be sorry for something I did, than something I didn’t do.

    1. Wow, that does take GUTS to go back to law school with the expensive and having gotten your MBA! I’m glad you are enjoying it and loving it and have the financial means to do so!

  3. Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer

    Knowing you’re in the second half of your life, really makes one appreciate time and making the most of it.

    P.S. That song sounds really sad, but I’m glad it has a message.

  4. Banjo Steve

    I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I do what gets me moving. I look back to my younger times (I’m in my third year of retirement)) and wonder just how I was able to do it all. Now I’m still doing fun stuff, but at a more leisurely and less frantic pace – an empty nest is a wonderful opportunity.

    But most pleasing is that my wife and i are about to celebrate our 35th anniversary. It’s never been better, despite the bumps along the road.

    I’ve had a life that focuses mainly on creativity of all types – and I am by no means done yet (puppetry, banjo, etc.). And I have also done things that have caused regrets, but there are sure to be bumps in the road when one takes on a meaningful journey. Let’s plan on wearing out rather than rusting out.

  5. I feel like I have done everything and more most days….more countries, more careers, more states, more degrees…and as a stay at home mom, I think I am recovering from the years doing all those things.

    Life feels like it is accelerating when I see my children achieve mile stones. Yet, it stands still every moment that I hold their small hands and just live in the moment knowing that I have this special moment to hold their hand and lead them somewhere new…all the while knowing that those hands are quickly growing and will wave goodbye to me one day.

    I love music…I find comfort, solace, and hope in music. The Great Beyond describes how I feel on many days “I am pushing an elephant up the stairs….and keeping flowers in full bloom”. Yet, I rarely want to bask in that much emotion and just put “house” on…I find the beat motivating.

    As for my favorite line in your song…”I changed by not changing at all”. Change is always portrayed as exterior change your job, looks, your spouse, etc. Yet, to maintain steadfast in your morals and values, in optimism, and in tenacity year after year. I could meet up with friends from high school…and they would say that I had not changed at all. I really like that about myself.

  6. I was still shy when it came to meeting with boys before I turned 22. When I was in college, I liked someone and also heard that he liked me. But he was too afraid to get rejected, I was told. In my opinion, he was a good looking person and he was on the school’s volleyball team! We went to the same college, a very good one. I remember on a school trip, he tried to sit next to me, but a girl in Med School who I knew happened to ask if she could sit next to me. So we never got a chance to become boy friend or girl friend. Many years later I saw him again, he asked if I had children. He knew I was married. I said yes and asked him the same question. We had a nice conversation, but I noticed that he was getting bald. He was loosing his hair in his 30’s. The good looking man was starting to look older than the man I married to though he was actually a year younger than my husband.

  7. I drive my husband crazy because I always listen to the lyrics and get annoyed when a song just repeats the same old lyrics. I remember being 23 and listening to Simon and Garfunkel sing “I’m 23 now but I won’t be for long. . .Time hurries on and the leaves on the trees turn to brown.” That was 17 years ago!! I can’t believe how quickly time goes, and once I had kids, it just went faster. Thanks for the post that really made me think. :)

    1. Thanks for sharing some memories Melissa! My gosh, 17 years go in a blink of an eye. Amazing, and kinda sad I feel for me bc we’ll never get that time back.

      Now, when I have to travel 18 hours to get somewhere, I just think to myself ADVENTURE and keep an open mind! Might as well fill the time with as much stuff as possible!

  8. Tuesday is my 20 year wedding anniversary, so I feel old as hell. (Got married at 23…)

    Time is really whipping by, and it is almost scary. Sometimes I truly feel like I am on autopilot. However, this year, I have really been focusing on my garden and taking some time to just sit outside and take a break.

    I don’t have any huge dreams other than happiness for my family, so I don’t have regrets. Actually, my life is so much better than I ever thought it would be that I feel pretty darn content in that regard. I would love to travel one day, but if I don’t that is ok. I am not saying I don’t have dreams, but I am also very happy with life as it is right now. I think my dreams will develop as I transition into the next phase of my life where the kids are leaving the house over the next few years.

    I think the thing that hits me with those lyrics is that the poor woman didn’t have the confidence to talk to her former love. You never know where life will take you, but you may never get very far if you don’t take the occasional chance.

    1. Well let me be the first to tell you Happy Anniversary, just in case it’s today!! :)

      Guys had these regrets ALL the time about not asking out a girl or pursuing her at all. Once enough regret builds up, guys turn into animals on the prowl!

  9. The biggest regret comes to thinking about what should have been not with why you failed. The entry tells us so much, about letting things pass us by with out really dissecting the true meaning of it all, and letting life pass by with out even trying and just quitting because it is too difficult.

    Sometimes we need some to stir the ship and make us realize what is behind the safe curtain, often time the string comes a little late. At this point, where you get too far behind if you don’t move, We should take every chance to learn and be better. It is a choice between being just another HUMAN BEING BEHIND the COUNTER or the better person who took the risk of not letting life pass by.

  10. Wow… It’s like you were in my head. I am 24 and feel like things are speeding up too fast and I’m not reacting. I need to focus and do things while I can. :)

  11. Sometimes you need a push from lady luck in order to make it out of the rut successfully. Too many variables to take into account which requires planning and not looking back when you take the jump.

    Aftr all, what if you realize that your rut was way better than the new position you jumped into?

  12. Great post. It certainly made me stop and think about my life lately. I gotten stuck in that rut and certainly feel it is time to get back out and do some fun and exciting things with the family again.

  13. Lisa @ Cents To Save

    Love the message of this post! The older I get ( and I am grateful for each day the Lord blesses me with) the more I realize how precious each day is. I try to live each day without regrets.

  14. Just turned 38 today. Feels like life is going by too fast but at the same time I’ve done and experienced a lot.

    I like songs that sound good but then you learn the chords or study the lyrics and appreciate it on an entirely new level, it is like a found treasure. There are so many songs that do that for me so I will check out the lyrics to this. You sound good in this song, Sam but I liked your version of Landslide better somehow. Have you tried to sing up in the high notes with some more power, like a controlled scream? I think it would sound really good, but you may need to experiment and play around with it.

    With this song, I don’t like the title because it is too long. But the concept of the song is tragic and helplessly depressing. I am pretty impulsive so I think I would speak out if I felt like the woman in the song. Even if she stays in the same small town she does change- life is a journey, you change as you age and leave your mark on the world as it leaves it’s mark on you. Even by staying stagnant there is growth and in the end maybe it doesn’t matter so much since every thing that is born on this Earth must die. So life is the journey with all of us having the same destination, so maybe the journey is somehow similar as well.


    1. I have some videos of me jamming on the bass up on youtube, would prefer to link stuff with no video and sound only, need to work on that…

  15. It seems like yesterday I was sixteen years old! It is always old(er) people who say things like that! I managed to do everything I ever wanted to do, but I still have more goals or things I want to do. One of which is to see future grandchildren!
    Most of the music I actually listen to is mostly from the sixties because it speaks to me. After all I grew up in the sixties.

  16. Untemplater

    That is so cool! Sweet recording, you sound great Sam. :)

    Life really does speed up. Mine wasn’t that fulfilling before I started blogging. Now I feel like I’m getting more out of life and utilizing my time as much as I can. There’s always more I wish I could squeeze in each day but it feels great to look back and see what I’ve done and build more meaningful relationships.

    Thanks for sharing your recording with us!

  17. Hello again, Sam. I haven’t posted on your site in quite some time. Mainly, it’s because I’ve been distracted by other things (females, now that I’m officially divorced), while simultaneously trying to increase my productivity so that life WON’T pass by too quickly.

    I think the key to the concept of life passing someone by depends on his or her personal goals and is linked to time. I can honestly say that I think I’m on track to reach my personal goals of a “true retirement” and to watch my son grow into an educated and well-respected adult.

    Unfortunately, we all will die. Therefore, we should all have a bucket list and work towards checking off time-sensitive items first. In this sense, one can stay ahead of time, as opposed to behind.

  18. Money Reasons

    Great song. I remember hearing a song that my mom use to listen too that I enjoyed called “Space Oddity” by David Bowe. I would just sing along thinking that it was the coolest astronaut song ever. I had no idea how sad it really was until 10 years ago. It’s a great song…

    I think that Nirvana’s “In Bloom” really makes fun of listeners that don’t know what the lyrics means. Pearl Jam’s songs are somewhat harder to decipher though! In the “In Bloom” Nirvana video, it’s awesome to see Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl playing drums. Actually Dave and the formation of the Foo Fighters is a pretty good example of this post “No Regrets”. It’s not easy to go from drummer to song writer and lead singer behind a great band like the “Foo Fighters”.

    Personally, I’m doing more things this year than I ever did before. Sure, I’ll have some regrets, but they will be regrets of actions instead of regrets of inaction. Regrets of Inaction is a life waster, regrets of action is learning. :)

  19. YES. The past week has been the fastest of my life and I know as I get settled into the new job it’s only to get busier. At this rate, I’ll be 30 before I know it.

    I know that logically I don’t have time to do justice to all the things I want to do outside of work (run regularly. Cook every day. Try new recipes every week. Bake every week. Keep house. Play guitar. Read 100 books. Learn to use my dSLR properly. Learn CSS. And that doesn’t even include the “far out” things like maybe volunteer or start a band again). I suppose I just have to focus on a couple of things at a time and accept that maybe photography and ice cream making will have to wait until next year.

    Another PJ song I’d like to understand is Even Flow. What’s your take?

    1. @eemusings 30 will hit you before you know it! That’s when you’ll really start freaking out, if for only a week that is :) What’s the new job entail? I’ll have to look into Even Flow, cuz I have no idea!

      @Money Reasons
      Don, I’ll definitely have to check out those great songs you’ve mentioned. There are SO MANY good ones, I just gotta find the time to learn, play, sing, and record. Recording is the pain b/c timing is everything.

      Welcome back mate! Hope you are enjoying your new found freedom!

      @Mike Hunt
      A controlled scream is definitely what I need to work on. I lull myself to sleep listening to myself sing. You should send over some of your recordings and share with the world. It’s fun!

      @Lisa @ Cents To Save
      Sounds like a great plan Lisa!

      It’s so good to mix things up and do something new. Lots of coupon sites nowadays huh?

      What you going to do after your sabbatical is up??

      How old are you now again? Everytime I have to go abroad on a business trip or whatever, I’m excited now. Adventure, adventure, adventure!

      Thanks a bunch! I’m really glad you’ve found an outlet in blogging. We can write, play, sing, connect, show our fotos… what’s not to love? Oh yeah, folks will also give us some money for advertisement too. Not bad!

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