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Creating A Life With No Regrets

With Kimchi Chow

Published on: Dec 30, 2018

If I ask you, “Do you have any regret in your life right now?” what would you say? If you are running a busy life, your answer might be, “I don’t think so,” or, “I’m not sure,” because you seldom invest your time to reflect about your life. But what if your doctor gave you a week to live and your body is too weak to do the things you might want to do? Your answer might be different. Life is very short. You and I don’t know when we will expire. We can be gone tomorrow, next year, or ten years or more from today. The goal is to live each day as if it is your last day on earth, and by the end of the day, to look at your life and say, “No matter what happens, I will be okay because I am complete; I have done everything I wanted. I have no regrets.”

Welcome to the Asian Women of Power podcast. I’d like to share this topic with you, I hope it’s appropriate and timely for you, so that you can start a powerful new year in 2019.

If I ask you “Do you have any regret in your life right now?”, what would you say?

If you are running a busy life, your answer might be, “I don’t think so,” or, “I’m not sure”, because you seldom invest your time to reflect about your life.

But, what if your doctor gives you a week to live, and your body is too weak to do the things you might want to do, then your answer will definitely be different.

I came across this topic a couple of years ago, and at times, someone or something reminds me about this topic again. Every time I am being reminded, I tell myself that I need to share with others, so that they don’t die with regrets.  Now, I’m using this opportunity to share it with you.

My purpose in creating this episode is to remind you that life is very short. You and I don’t know when we will expire; we can be gone tomorrow, next year, or ten years or more from today. The goal is to live each day as if it is your last day on earth.  If by the end of the day, you look at your life and say, “If I leave my body right now, I will be ok, because I am complete; I have done everything I wanted.”

Most people don’t live life this way. They always live for tomorrow.

They often use the word “I can’t and until”. Check to see if these sounds familiar to you.

“I can’t pursue my dream until my kids graduate from college, or,

I can’t take a long vacation until all of my debts are paid, or,

I don’t have time to enjoy myself until I no longer have to take care of my parents.”

I Wish I’d Had The Courage To Live A Life True To Myself, Not The Life Others Expected Of Me

I can’t … until, I can’t … until”.

If these sound familiar, you are not alone. There are many people who think the same way, and it’s not only for Asian or for women.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing

Let’s look at Bronnie Ware’s book “The top 5 Regrets of the Dying: A life transformed by the dearly departing” and see what we can do to live life with no regrets, starting right now.

The #1 regret from this book is “ I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

This was the most common regret for men, women, young, and old.

Let’s take a closer look from an Asian’s culture:

In an Asian family, children were told to become who their parents want them to become. As immigrants, our parents often told us that they have sacrificed their life to come to America; they had to do everything necessary to generate enough money to send their children to a good school, so that their children can become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or any other well-paid professions. When the kids have the degree or occupation that their parents want from them, the parents would feel proud.

For the children, they feel it’s their obligation and duty to do what their parents expect of them. The children think that by following their parents’ order and do what their parents ask mean that they love their parents and don’t want to disappoint the parents.

In my family, four out of five brothers chose to become an engineer because that was a high paid profession. The other one became an accountant, which also generated a stable income.

For me, I was the only engineer female in my family. I decided to go this route because I wanted to be different.  After I worked as an engineer for about fifteen years, I left and became an investor and a business owner, then later I pursued a coaching career.

At first, my father and my eldest brother did not believe that I had an aptitude to become an engineer. Many times, they told me to take an easier route by taking two years education to become an assistant for an accounting firm, or become a secretary.

I persisted. I gave them two reasons to let me do it my way.

First reason: I told them that I was not good with accounting, I got a C in that course, plus it seemed too boring for me; it did not fit my personality.

Second reason: I told them that if I get a C in the engineering courses, I would look for something else easier to do.

I was able to manage to get A and B grades in my engineering courses, and my father and brother gave up on persuading me to choose an easier major that suit for a woman.

Even after I was married, when I wanted to quit my career to do investing and trading, I had to stand up for myself and let my spouse know that this is my path, my journey, and he can either support me by standing beside me, or get out of my way and don’t try to stop me.

Now, looking back, I’m glad I had the gut to stand up for what I wanted to do. If I didn’t do that, I would be miserable, and I would not be able to share this message with you on this podcast.

  • What about you? Did you choose your career because your parents or family members expected of you?
  • Do you still love what you do?
  • Are you still excited to wake up every morning and go to work to create new things?
  • What’s missing in your life?
  • If you are no longer excited about what you are doing, do you know what you want to do next?
  • Do you have the courage to let others know what you want?
  • Are you ready to put some actions to pursue your dreams?

I suggest that you invest a couple hours in a weekend, or take a few days off to reflect and ponder about what would make you feel happy. Go back to the time you felt happiest. What were you doing? What were your dreams when you were young?  Are these dreams still practical and achievable now? Find a good friend or a good coach to brainstorm on what you need to do next, to find how you can get more fulfillment in your life again.

Do not delay on this. Do it for you. Start to live the life that is true to you.  It is worth it!

I Wish I Had Not Worked So Hard.

Next, the # 2 regret is“I wish I had not worked so hard.”

From the book, this regret was mostly found in men because they had been the breadwinners for all their life. But I feel it also applied to women whether or not they are working for a company or being a housewife.

If you are a man, your life mostly focuses on work. You spend countless hours at work, after the hour, and sometimes at the weekend. You don’t leave work at work; you often carry it home to catch up on projects and deliveries. Many times, when you get home from work, your children already went to bed. Not too often that you could come to your children’s performance, or attend their competition in school, so you miss out on seeing your children growing up and becoming an adult.

You also miss out on building a strong relationship with your life partner if you always work day and night, six, or seven days a week. Most men think that once you get married, everything will stay the same. That is not true for the women. As you and your spouse grow older, your needs and aspirations changed. Your marriage requires frequent nurturing and understanding from both parties. Often in an Asian culture, when the honeymoon is over, the man resumes to go back to what he does before, but the woman now is taking on new roles of housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, and later child bearing and parenting.

If you don’t spend the time to enjoy each other, and you are not available to help and support your partner, your relationship will soon diminish as time goes by. You no longer feel connected with, or attracted to your partner, physically, emotionally and intellectually.  This is the reason many marriages break up after 20, 30 years, or even later.

No Regrets: As you and your spouse grow older, your needs and aspirations change

As a woman, I experienced some of this in my 30s and 40s. I was trying to grow my career, be a good mom and a good daughter in-law. I hired a nanny to take care of my children, and cook for the family. In the weekend, instead of spending time playing with my kids, or taking them somewhere to enjoy and learn new things, I spent time cleaning up the house, the car, and went groceries shopping.

Now, looking back, I regretted the time that I missed my daughter’s water polo competitions, and my son’s distance running competitions.  Even when I was there at their events, my mind and my heart were somewhere else.

Take the lesson from me. If you still have young children, do your best to spend time with them now!  Read to them, play with them, take them to different national parks, and teach them something that you loved when you were a kid. Tell them stories about your childhood. Your children will treasure the time they are with you more than any gift or toy that you could get for them.

If you are still married or in a committed relationship, start to have at least one date night each week. Go to new places, experience something you’ve never done before, mix it up. Be there for each other completely. Your date night could be serving in a kitchen soup together, or attending a music concert, or hiking at a new park, or trying a new game. The goal here is to create new memories with each other.

I Wish I’d Had The Courage To Express My Feelings

Regret # 3 “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”

Growing up in an Asian culture, most Asian women are not encouraged to speak up our mind. We are not allowed to shout, yell, or throw a tantrum at anyone, because those behaviors are viewed as immature and disrespectful. Most of us don’t know how to express in a way that is calm and collective. When our emotion runs high, our intellect runs low, and it turns out that most of the time we don’t make sense when we try to express the reasons of our anger, sadness or disappointment about something or someone.

Instead of speaking up from your heart, and acknowledging the feelings that you have, you try to shut down by not talking or letting other people know how you feel at that moment.

As a result, you would tolerate a mediocre life because you don’t express what you truly want or need, and you don’t let others know what is bothering you.

I used to put up with many things at home and at work, up until I was in early 50s when I realized that the quality of my life is a direct result of the things I tolerate with. After I learned to speak up on the things I  no longer want to tolerate, people, especially my siblings, are more careful around me when they start to gossip or talk about someone behind their back. You will be surprised how freeing it feels when you can do that!  Another benefit for speaking up is now others would know where you stand, so they will no longer step on your toes. You have set up a boundary between you and them.

If you want to improve in this area, start making a list of the things you tolerated and no longer want to tolerate them. Plan on how you want to tell others about the things you don’t want to tolerate anymore.

Start with the one that has the least impact on others. When you communicate with others, do not blame them for the things they did in the past. Take responsibility and ownership for yourself and let them know how those things impacted you mentally and emotionally. Tell them how you feel. Then tell them what you expect to see in the future.

When you are able to express your feelings out loud, you feel heard. The tension and the energy from those emotions are released, and nothing will stay stuck in your body. This will give you inner peace.

I Wish I Had Stayed In Touch With My Friends.

The # 4 regret is “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”

People become friends because they have something in common. They like each other and they don’t judge each other. With friends, we tend to be ourselves; we don’t pretend with true friends.

  • If you have good friends and you haven’t contacted them lately, call them up.
  • Find out what’s new in their life.
  • Share with them what’s new in your life and what you are up to.

If you live within an hour of driving from your friend, arrange a time to visit them in person. Go for lunch or do something fun together. Your heart and soul will thank you for that. Don’t postpone on this because you don’t know how long you and your friends can see each other.

No Regrets: Most people do not realize that happiness is a choice.

I Wish I had Let Myself Be Happier

The 5th regret is “I wish that I had let myself be happier” 

Most people did not realize that happiness is a choice.

Happiness doesn’t depend on how rich you are, or how famous you become. It doesn’t discriminate gender, age, or race; it doesn’t care where you live, or how you look.

In our Asian culture, most people still don’t know the truth about happiness, and how to be happy most of the time.

Here is my definition of happiness:  happiness is a moment of pleasure, of laughter, of having fun, of being playful like a child. We feel happy when we let go of judgment, when we no longer compare ourselves to others, when we connect with something or someone.

Happiness does not cost money; it is easily shared.

It sounds so easy, isn’t it?  But why most people can’t find happiness in their life?

The answer: they fear change, they fear what others might think of them. They don’t want to let go of the past, and some of them feel they don’t deserve to be happy.

If you want to stay where you are at and be miserable, go ahead. Continue doing what you have been doing.

If you are ready to bring more happiness into your life, try these things:

  1. Take an IMPROV class. This is not an acting or public speaking class. It is a place where you come and play. In this class, you will learn to see mistakes as gifts.
  2. Go to watch a funny movie or a comedy show that is light heart.
  3. Have your house cleaned professionally. This will reduce your stress if you are a woman.
  4. Buy a large bouquet of beautiful flowers and spread them around the house, in the office, in the kitchen, or wherever you can see them. Every time I see beautiful flowers, I feel light, my mood is elevated, and I feel happy.
  5. Go to serve at a community kitchen. Whenever you can do something for someone without any expectation in return, you will feel happy.

Go ahead and try these out, and let me know which one works for you.

I hope you take this subject to heart, and start to implement it.

Start to speak up, stand up and show up for who you are and who you want to be, so that you can experience the life that you love.

I believe in you. I am looking forward to hear from you soon in 2019.

Until then, LIVE LIFE LOUD!

Important Links:

Episode Quotes 

"Live each day as if it is your last day on earth."

"The quality of my life is a direct result of the things I tolerate with"

"We feel happy when we let go of judgment, when we no longer compare ourselves to others, or when we connect with something or someone."

About Kimchi Chow

Kimchi Chow, Founder & CEO of Asian Women of Power, and Host of Asian Women of Power podcast.
Born and raised in Vietnam, Kimchi is the first generation of immigrants in America.
With a diverse background, from high tech to service industry to investing to personal growth, Kimchi knew what it took to be successful, happy and fulfilled in life.
Now, Kimchi is working as a coach to support her clients, the Asian American women, about Life, Relationships and Culture, to help her clients create the life that they love.
Kimchi started a movement called “Live Life Loud” and a podcast called “Asian Women of Power” in May 2018. Today, this podcast has widely spread to over 22 countries around the world.
Kimchi’s mission is to empower Asian American women to speak their truth, to stand up for their rights and to show up for what they believe in.
To learn more about her programs, her podcast and her movement, please join her on her Facebook group, or connect with her through LinkedIn.
Kimchi currently lives in San Jose, California with her husband. She is also serving on the Board of Advisor for The AGIF organization (www.TheAGIF.org), and the Board of Volunteer for CASPA organization (www.CASPA.com).

Connect with Kimchi Chow at:
Website: www.AsianWomenOfPower.com
Podcast: www.AsianWomenOfPower.com/podcast
Facebook Group: www.JoinAsianWomenOfPower.com
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kimchi.Chow
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimchichow

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