What Is Our Biggest Regret?

We all have regrets in life, whether it be that questionable perm we got back in the ’80s or wishing we had chosen the steak over the salad at the restaurant. Nobody can live their entire life regret-free but some of these wrong decisions can make a larger impact on our lives than others.

A Loving Tribute wanted to explore this in more depth and discover exactly what Brits regret the most from their youth that made such a large impact on their lives in retirement. Over 500 over 65’s were surveyed to discover what advice they would give their 18-year-old self if they had the chance.

It is rather heartwarming to see that most respondents were not looking for a change to a certain event that previously happened but instead wanted to look after the mental wellbeing of their younger selves. Over 35% had constructive advice for the past, we all know how our teens are troublesome as we are trying to find ourselves. Common phrases used in answers were ‘be true to yourself’, ‘believe in yourself’, ‘enjoy life’ and ‘be confident’.

We can interpret this as 35% of the population are satisfied with how their life has panned out and would not wish to change who they have become and how they got to be there. It is almost as if we are saying to our younger versions ‘don’t worry, it all turns out alright in the end’. Something many of us need to hear in our youth.

Relationships seemed to be one of the biggest regrets of our lives with almost 10% advising their younger self to steer clear of jumping into something they are bitter about later on in life. We all have relationships we regret but these answers did not only refer to romantic encounters. Some phases included ‘don’t get married’, ‘don’t have kids’, ‘stay single’, ‘keep well away from women’ and even ‘don’t sign the adoption papers’.

With this in mind, statistics show current younger generations are learning from their elders in this aspect of life. The average age of getting married in the UK has been on a steady rise since 1970. The average age for people to get married today is in their early thirties.

Another big regret for the UK is their career and education, or lack of. Over 10% wish they had studied harder, chosen a different career path or achieved a higher role within their working lives. Some answers were ‘do better at school’, ‘join the forces’, ‘complete your education’ and ‘get a trade qualification’.

Previously, university was not available to everybody and many of us started families so young we were unable to progress in our education or career. Although today’s teens know the importance of education, many are throwing the idea of university out the window to opt for apprenticeships or to learn a trade. Generation Z has witnessed Millenials attend university for extortionate fees and leaving themselves in with huge student loan debts and underpaid work roles. It looks like today’s teen are taking advice from all ages to work out the best modern path to take.

Education is constantly changing and so is the working world, it looks like every retiree will have their say when it comes to career advice but with this constant change, we can never be for certain which will be best for our futures.

Not choosing the right education or career can impact us financially. Humans have worried about their cash flow since the invention of money and with 7% of respondents regretting financial elements of the lives as their biggest regret, it appears nothing has changed.

The main focus of these respondents was the lack of savings for retirement. There is little point in working hard if we do not save for the future so we can look after ourselves later on. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is a lack of pension to be able to live from but also cash for others.

We all want to look after our families, whether it be funds towards a house, wedding, car or just treating them. We also need to consider what we are able to leave loved-ones after we have passed. Funeral costs are always rising and it’s not just the coffin and cremation you need to worry about, catering, car hire and even funeral order of service templates all need to be paid for. We don’t want to leave our families in grief and debt!

While we’d love to say people are learning from other’s financial mistakes, money worries will always be a problem and are not something easily rectified.

Now we can’t talk about regrets without bringing up the ‘B-Word’, sorry folks, it’s Brexit. Whatever your opinion on the referendum, we can all agree both voters and politicians have regrets on how politics have turned out.

There is a lot of focus on reducing the voting age but with 3% of over 65’s seeing their biggest life regret as their younger political choices, should we be allowing this? Respondents answered ‘don’t vote’, ‘never trust the government’ and ‘don’t believe a Tory MP’.

What advice would you give your younger self? Perhaps you are lucky enough to be so content in the world you wouldn’t wish any changes? Most importantly, would your hard-headed teen self even listen to this advice if they were given it? Perhaps not and you’re life would have played out exactly the same despite some hindsight warnings?

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