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My 5 Regrets About Empowering Myself As A Young Professional

Written by: Christelle Soto-Suarez, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


This is the 3rd installment of my 3-part series on the topic of "Do you ever look back at the early stage of your professional life?”. Having looked back at the “5 Steps I’m Glad I Took to Empower Myself as a Young Professional” and at the5 Actions I Wish I Had Done Better or Earlier”, I’m now looking back at the “things” I didn’t do, but now wished I had done!

concept of time and woman thinking

Why the regrets?

Well, with the benefit of insight, life experience, and maturity… it’s quite easy to say to ourselves:

“If I had done that…

… I would have the knowledge that I need right now…

… I would feel more confident about getting out of my comfort zone…

… I could have a very different life…

… I could have made even more out of my youth and “worry-free” time…”

I’m probably not the only one wondering “what would my life look like now if I had taken that opportunity?”

Although we can't change the past and, personally, I try not to delve too much into the “what if I had…”, I hope that someone’s regretscan be someone else’s “inspiration”!

What stopped me?

I see 3 main categories of “obstacles”:

  • Lack of courage: Whether we call it lack of courage, not daring, not wanting to get out of our comfort zone, fear of the unknown, worries about “what will people think of me?”… It’s that “thing” that stops us from taking the step toward what we would like to do, that makes us think “what I want is actually not worth the pain”, that makes us tell ourselves “this present situation is not that bad!”, that reminds us that “there are more important things to do”…

  • Lack of awareness: Sometimes, there are opportunities that we don’t even know exist, that we don’t even see… Maybe because we're too absorbed in our world and priorities, or because these opportunities are not mentioned in our social environment… and our mind is not (yet) trained to “see” outside of our familiar circle…

  • Non-existence at the time: And sometimes some opportunities don't (yet) exist… by law (after all, equal rights for all are still a "work in progress" in many countries, including in "developed" countries), because of access restrictions (hence the development of equity, inclusion and belonging terminology!) and because technology is constantly opening new opportunities (it wasn’t that long ago that cellphone and internet were inexistent, when we had to rely on writing letters, reading books and calling people to get information, and when the whole world of “gig” economy and side hustle was a lot smaller!).

And now, let’s look at these “things” I regret not doing…

Pushing the fear-mindset aside

In a way, this is probably “THE REGRET” that is at the root of most of my other “regrets”…

It’s the fear-mindset that:

  • Pushed me to study hard at school, including subjects I didn’t like or wasn’t good at;

  • Made me select an education path that provided me with a qualification after 2 years, in an industry with job opportunities and decent salaries; and

  • Brought me to concentrate mostly on professional development at the beginning of my career.

Instead, I would have loved to have had a more open mindset to:

  • Do more of what I liked and less of what I didn’t like;

  • Enjoy the journey more rather than concentrate on the destination;

  • Think more about my “esteem” and “self-actualization” needs instead of limiting myself to my “security and safety” needs (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs)

I would have loved to have someone I valued tell me about the fear-mindset, about this pyramid of needs, and show me a world of different possibilities!

Participating in students’ clubs

I've heard a lot about all these different student clubs in the last few years, whether they're about student representation, sports, arts, politics, etc. And I can see that they're a great way for young adults to develop multiple skills…

But at the time I was a student, I wasn't at all into these "clubs" – I wasn't even aware of most of them (even if they probably were a lot less of them then), did not see the value of them (it was more important to concentrate on my studies), and had no understanding of the social network created (actually, “social network” wasn’t a term I would have understood)…

Of course, now I’m much more aware of what I could have learned through such experiences, and how they could have impacted my life…

Taking a gap year

This was a “thing” when I was studying in the UK: students taking several months off their education to explore the world, do some volunteering work or even work in different industries, and learn more about themselves - before deciding what to do with their life…

But, for me, this was unheard of – a least based on the social environment I was coming from: we would go to school, then go to university or learn a trade, and finally start work…

So, even having become aware of this “gap year” experience, it just wasn’t in my mindset to:

  • Take some time to travel (earning some money at the same time) and learn more about other cultures and become familiar with an international environment;

  • Try out different types of work and discover what I was more attracted to and what suited me the most; and

  • Get some volunteering experience and develop skills such as team working, communication, even management and leadership, and learn to adapt to unfamiliar situations and environments!

  • Such experiences would likely have been eye-opening experiences for me, on multiple levels!

Having a side activity/side hustle

Here is another activity that is becoming more and more common, and in many cases, is a great way to build new expertise, learn new skills, bring something “different” to our day-to-day life, and sometimes even bring additional income!

Again, this was something I had never heard of when starting my adult life… I didn’t know anyone who had a career and also did something else on the side, something that wasn’t related to their profession and was more than “just” a hobby…

And, in any event, I would have seen it as a “barrier” slowing me down in my studies and then in my career…

But now, I’m much more aware of what I could have gained from experimenting with having several “professions” at once…

Be more “adventurous” in my choices

Some people say that I’ve actually been quite “adventurous” as a young adult: carrying on my construction studies in the UK despite not speaking much English, getting my first job in the capital (Paris) when coming from the countryside, resigning from my first job to study Spanish in Spain, taking a job in a very, very small country (Gibraltar)…

But, for me, I see that I could have been a lot more “adventurous” in general:

  • Taking a gap year, as mentioned above;

  • Living and working in countries outside of Europe;

  • Learning a non-European language;

  • Looking for roles much more outside of my experience, even if potentially earning less at the beginning…

Of course, there is always a “risk” with being more “adventurous” in our choices… but, with experience, I’ve come to realize that there is also always a “risk” in staying in “known” environments: being left behind, feeling trapped, not learning how to deal with unexpected events… not making the best of our lifetime!

What about you?

I’m curious… If you’re at the beginning of your professional life:

  • What is it that you see others do around you, but YOU’RE NOT PREPARED to do… despite what it could BRING YOU?

  • What is STOPPING you?

  • What REGRETS could you have in 10, 20, 30 years’ time?

  • How could you EXPAND your horizon, your view of what’s possible?

Final words

Interested in knowing more about my 5-step process to “Empowering Yourself to Create the Life and Career You Want”? Book a free 45-minute Empower Yourself Discovery Call!

Simply curious? Then check out Pistachio-Cassis Coaching website!

Subscribe to my Pistachio-Cassis Newsletter for monthly insights on Empowering Yourself to Create the Life and Career You Want.

Follow me on LinkedIn for inspiration, motivation, and education about how to empower yourself. And please, reach out to me via LinkedIn or email to let me know you’ve read my article. I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback, suggestions, or anything else you want to tell me! Visit my website for more info!


Christelle Soto-Suarez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Christelle Soto-Suarez is a Personal Leadership & Development Coach who empowers Women in STEM / Construction to create the Life and Career they want, and is the founder of Pistachio-Cassis Coaching. She’s a certified professional coach and a member of the International Coaching Federation.

However, coaching is her 2nd career. Previously, she spent 25 years as a construction professional, working on a wide range of construction and engineering projects and in different roles. She worked and lived in several countries, experienced working in multicultural teams, and speaks 3 languages.

But however fulfilling and challenging these experiences were, the time came when she realized that she actually felt unhappy, unfulfilled, unsatisfied with where she was in her life…

Through her own exploration journey to discover how to create the life and career she wanted for herself, Christelle realized she was actually following a life coaching process… That fascinated her so much that she trained as a professional life coach and she set up her own coaching practice to empower others to also create the life and career they want.

Outside of coaching, Christelle loves expanding her horizons through reading, conversing with people with different backgrounds and experiences, and relaxing in nature.



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