Top tips to dispelling midlife regrets

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 04 Dec 2014

Regret. The forehead-slap of hindsight we’re all too familiar with. We’ve all been trapped in an infinite loop of negative self-recrimination at some point – whether it’s after we’ve dismissed a job opportunity, eaten too much ice cream or had our hair chopped far too short.

Although regret is a negative emotion, it can contribute to happiness by preventing us from repeating mistakes and prodding us to take action when nothing else can. We’ve looked at recent research by Silver Surfers into the top regrets of over 50s [1], and found ways in which some of these regrets can be harnessed to make positive decisions.

29% said they hadn’t seen enough of the world

Many people see ‘globetrotting’ as a young person’s game, but this is simply not the case – it’s never too late to tick far-flung destinations off the bucket list. In fact we’re seeing a growing army of early-retirees jetting off on belated gap years. So stop talking about it and do it – you won’t regret it.

Reasons to travel the world:

  • your children have grown up and can fend for themselves
  • you have all the necessary life skills to make the most of the experience
  • you can comfortably communicate with a variety of people.

15% wish they’d worked harder at school

Whilst you can’t reverse your classroom antics, you can still learn new tricks. You might just simply be a late bloomer who’s not discovered your true talent yet! Going back to ‘school’ is really easy these days thanks to a whole range of online courses. So if there’s a skill or qualification you’d like to master, it’s worth looking into. If you’re strapped for cash, keep your eyes peeled for Groupon deals as they frequently have courses on offer.

14% claimed they worried too much about what other people thought

Worrying about what other people think is perhaps one of the hardest habits to shake off. The truth of the matter is, you’re not the centre of other people’s world – most folk are too busy with their own lives to have time to think about you. In most situations, people’s opinions can’t hurt you. Sure, we all suffer from a snide comment now and again, but there’s no way someone’s opinion can affect your life, unless you let it of course. It’s important to remember that the people who really matter are your friends and family who love you for who you really are.

13% said they never told their parents how much they meant to them
There’s nothing we can change about this one but we can learn from retrospect. Take this as an opportunity to tell those close to you how much they mean to you – whether it’s through a text, letter or card, or better still, if they are still around, make a point of showing them that you care.

11% regretted not asking their Grandparents more about their life before they died

Although we can’t turn back the clock, tracking down your family history can help you to fill in some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. Do some digging first – ask your family members what they know and keep a log of what they tell you. Family tree sites like Ancestry.co.uk may help you to string pieces of the story together.

Shaking off regret isn’t easy, mainly because it’s an ingrained emotion. Instead of ruminating about the past, channel your thoughts into discovering your passions and making a better future. And most importantly, celebrate the path you’ve chosen – it’s made you into the person you are today.

[1] Silver Surfers (Nov,2014), “52 is the age of contentment” [online]. Available from www.silversurfers.com

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.