18 Most Common Things People Regret When They Get Old

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By Jonathan Trent

Most older people have regrets. One of the best things you can do throughout life is take the wisdom from older people and better understand what’s important in the here and now. We’ve listed 18 of the most common things older people say they regret.

Neglecting Health and Exercise

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This has to be one of the most important things to stay on top of throughout life, but most of us neglect it when we’re still young. Older people realize the impact that lack of good diet and exercise can have on you as your body ages.

Sacrificing Work-Life Balance

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It used to be that overtime and long working hours were the norm. Luckily, the modern workplace is putting more focus on work-life balance – and, according to Forbes, it’s the millennials to thank for that. However, a big regret for older folks can be sacrificing a lot of their personal life to overwork themselves. 

Not Saving Enough for Retirement

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Spending money at the moment and worrying about retirement later seems so easy when you’re young. Yet insufficient financial planning is one thing many older people regret. And saving for retirement is now harder than ever, according to The Guardian, which lists the increased cost of living as one of the main factors.

Never Pursuing Their Passions

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Outside of a career, it’s extremely important to also pursue hobbies and interests that you’re passionate about – yet many people neglect that over their lives. Whether it’s due to a lack of time after work or letting anxiety stop you, some people fail to pursue their passions.

Neglecting Mental Health

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With an estimated 12 billion days of work lost to mental health struggles, according to the World Health Organization, there is more focus on help these days. Yet, for many older people, support for mental health wasn’t as widely talked about. This left many people ignoring signs of stress and neglecting mental well-being.

Delaying Travel Plans

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Travel plans often get put on the back burner. Dream vacations can remain just that when you have everyday life to pay for. When you’re younger, it’s easy to think that you have years ahead of you to save and travel. Yet many people make the promise to themselves to do it but miss their chance.

Neglecting Relationships

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One thing you can depend on as you get older is losing touch with people you used to be friends with. Whether it’s work or life pulling you apart, not many older people have the same friends they had when they were younger. A poignant reality can be losing touch with people who mattered.

Procrastinating on Personal Development

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New skills can be learned at any age, yet many older people think they’re too old to pick up a new instrument or start from scratch with something. This leads to many old people regretting missed opportunities for growth and gaining a new skill set.

Holding On to Grudges

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Old age is the perfect time to reevaluate all the people you believe wronged you in the past. Many older adults might find they still have grudges they never recovered from. Failing to forgive people throughout your life means carrying that resentment with you.

Failing to Document Memories

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There isn’t a person without a phone in their hands these days. Phone cameras have enabled capturing on the go to become the norm. Yet for older people, many of their memories have been easily lost if they didn’t take conscious effort to have photos printed or keep hold of items.

Ignoring their Personal Goals or Career Dreams

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Most people are pushed into abandoning their dreams to work a more practical job that will pay the bills. It’s a responsible course of action, yet many people regret not pursuing career passions during their lives. This can result in the realization that they let fear stop them from trying to accomplish their aspirations.

Not Spending Enough Time with Loved Ones

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It’s easy to take all your loved ones for granted when you’re young. You might not see them as often as you should because of life getting in the way. Yet older people often look back and wish they’d spent more time with their loved ones and cherished those moments.

Avoiding Taking Risks

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Playing it safe throughout life can lead to a stable one, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Many older people might look back and wish they’d taken more of a chance on certain things. Or, wonder how their life might have been different if they’d been willing to take that risk.

Not Expressing Gratitude

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People are guilty of making assumptions that loved ones already know how much they mean to them without saying it. But gratitude is important to share. Showing more gratitude is also linked to greater happiness, so says Harvard Health.

Failing to Invest in Property or Assets

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It’s not always possible to buy property or even invest. Yet many people who did have the opportunity may regret that they chose to pass it up, such as renting a property instead. In later years, it’s often too late to make such huge investments, so the regret can stick around.

Neglecting Spiritual Growth

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Many people focus too much on material possessions and the pursuit of money during their lifetime. This is understandable when you want to live a successful life. Yet this often means people neglect spiritual growth, failing to learn more about themselves and finding that much-needed inner peace.

Not Pursuing Further Education

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Further education isn’t necessary for every job prospect, but many people miss out on opportunities if they don’t have the right qualifications. Some people realize too late in life that they should have continued higher education if it aligned with their passions or career goals.

Giving Too Much Time to the Wrong People

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And last on the list of regrets might be the irksome realization that you spent far too much time with the wrong people! This might have been someone toxic or negative that you wish you would have cut off a lot sooner.