In my forthcoming book, and with clients, I ask the reader to imagine life aged 90, or 25 years into the future and to consider any regrets as they look back over their life.
I’ve been reviewing what people have said and I thought now would be a good time to share. I didn’t include these examples in my book.
I would also like you, to look back on your life so far and to make a note of any regrets that you have. It’s probably not too late to do something about it. And, if it is too late to make your peace with your situation.
It would be wonderful if you shared via the comments, or, if you would rather be anonymous, send it to me and I’ll add them. We can all learn so much from other people’s lives so let’s see what wisdom you share will help others, especially the younger people that follow us.
Earlier today I posted up a video, to introduce this article and you may like to watch it
Here are things people have shared with me:
- I wish I’d had a different childhood
It would have been nice to have a different childhood, one where books, music, and culture were highly valued instead of solely focusing on money and material possessions. I also wish I had been shown more love and knew how to express it to others. Learning how to display affection and love came late in life for me.
- I wish I had been brought up to be more assertive.
I was taught not to make a fuss or be confrontational, and looking back, I think that was a mistake. My parents were wonderful, but that aspect could have been different.
- I wish I had spent more time with my parents as a young adult
There are moments when I feel a pang of regret for not being more present for my loving parents during my younger years. I wish I had been more generous with my time, especially in my twenties and early thirties. It may not have changed the course of my life, but it would have been a kinder gesture, especially considering they both passed away when I was only 35. It was only when I started my own family that I truly grasped how fortunate I was to have had them.
- I wish I’d chosen a different degree and hadn’t got married so young
I regret the degree I chose. I wish I had pursued something art or science-related instead of business management. As a child, I had a talent for drawing and always had a fascination with plants, even memorizing their scientific names effortlessly. Additionally, I wish I hadn’t gotten married at such a young age. Looking back, 23 seems too young. I wish I had been more assertive and confident in making decisions for myself.
- I wish I had become more confident earlier in life.
As I’ve got older, my confidence in dealing with different situations and people has really grown. I used to be quite shy as a child and teenager, and that shyness stuck with me until I had to learn to do things for myself and stand up for my husband when he developed Alzheimer’s. It was a steep learning curve, but now I find it much easier to handle authority figures and navigate through different organizations.
- I wish I had played the game at work
Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I should have been a bit less straightforward, especially at work. Perhaps if I had been more savvy about office politics and not spoken my mind so freely, I could have opened up more opportunities for myself. Maybe I should have implied that I was willing to do whatever it took, even compromising my own values, to climb the corporate ladder
- I wish I had been less impulsive
I have to admit, I’ve made some impulsive spending decisions that my poor husband couldn’t keep up with. He worked tirelessly, but my spending habits led us to lose our house many years ago. I deeply regret that.
- I wish I’d stopped being a people pleaser
I wish I had focused more on what I wanted instead of constantly trying to please others. When I look at young people today, I wish I had embraced more romantic relationships. The opportunity was there, but like many of my friends, the fear of an unwanted pregnancy held me back.
- I wish I hadn’t married so young.
I slept with him, and then agreed to marry him. He was a controller who stripped away my confidence alongside declaring his love for me. I changed so much as a person between 19 and 29.
- I regret being nasty
As a teenager, there are many things I did that I deeply regret. One particular act of revenge still weighs heavily on my conscience, and I am truly sorry for it.
- I often wish I had been bolder in my choice of career.
I worked in a bank in my local town after finishing school, took a break when I started my family, and then went back to the bank when my children started school. While my parents thought it was a safe and stable job, part of me wishes I had explored different opportunities and worked in a different field in another location. I actually encouraged my own daughter to work abroad, which is why she and her family now live 10,000 miles away in Australia! Sometimes I wonder if I had made different choices, she would be married to someone local and we would see each other more frequently instead of years apart.
- I worked too hard
I thought my career was the most important thing in my life and put it first. Only late in life do I realise it isn’t and I can make changes.
- I wish I had stood up for myself more.
I never learned to play a musical instrument or read music because my assertive parents discouraged me from pursuing it. I wish I had more self-confidence and didn’t let school bullies make my secondary school days miserable. I still would have left school at 16, but I wish I had been stronger and not let them have such a negative impact on me. It’s disappointing that the school didn’t take bullying seriously, as they believed none of their students would engage in such behaviour.
- Losing touch…
I must admit, I let a close friend slip away. We used to work together back in the 70s, but after she got married, I lost touch and even forgot her name.
- I missed out on many experiences due to financial struggles.
My childhood was generally happy, but I longed for piano and violin lessons, as well as more vacations, especially abroad. Even in my twenties, those opportunities were limited. I don’t have many regrets about things I’ve done, but I do regret the things I haven’t done because of money constraints or not being adventurous enough. In recent years, my husband’s health has also limited our ability to do certain things, despite having the means now. I still find myself not being as adventurous as I could be.
- There are so many things I regret.
Leaving home at 18, marrying my first husband, marrying my second husband, and moving far away from my family. Looking back, my life could have taken a completely different path. However, I didn’t have much guidance from home or school, so I lacked ambition and a deep understanding of the world. Thankfully, over time, I developed a strong sense of independence, gained confidence, and now have a sunny, friendly, and optimistic outlook on life.
- I should have travelled when I was younger
I often think about how I should have travelled more when I was younger. It feels more dangerous now, so I don’t encourage my grandchildren to do so, but if they choose to, I support them wholeheartedly.
If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not taking better care of my teeth. I should have prioritized my dental health and given it the attention it deserved.
- Waiting to get married
Sometimes, I can’t help but think that I rushed into marriage at a young age. Looking back, I realize I wasn’t quite ready for such a commitment. Thankfully, after seven years, I found the courage to leave that relationship. And you know what? It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Fast forward to today, and I’m happily married to an amazing man, whom I met shortly after my divorce. We tied the knot within eight months, and our love has only grown stronger over the past four decades.
- Calling out abuse
I was treated so badly by family members and kept quiet. I never did tell my parent how the actions impacted on me over my life time. I still can remember the traumatic events. It lead me to marrying young, just to get away. I then stayed in the wrong marriage as I could not see a way out. I’m now free.
Is this how we should treat regrets?
If you have regrets, does saying this statement work for you, or does another one suit you more? I’d love to know.
Overall, there are many moments in my life where I wish I had done things differently. But I try not to dwell on those regrets and instead focus on the lessons I’ve learned and the growth I’ve experienced. Life is full of ups and downs, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I still have to make the most of it.