Things People Regret the Most When They Are Old

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both.” In Robert Frost’s poem ‘The road not taken’, he has beautifully depicted how we have to make so many choices in life. Some choices are easy to make, and we will always be proud of our decision. Then there are the challenging choices, where we may make the right choice, but it may not be the one that makes us happy. Years down the line, when we are old and nearing death, we reflect upon our lives and accept our regrets. We had the privilege to interview a number of wise, old people, who opened up to us about the biggest regrets of their lives. This isn’t an article to make anybody feel bad; it is a reminder that we must live in the moment, and enjoy life to the fullest.

“I regret not spending enough time with my children. I was busy with my work for thirty long years, and before I knew it, my children were all grown up. The only thing that makes me happy is that it was worthwhile; I was able to give them a good education and a comfortable childhood, and now they have become successful young adults.”

“I regret not telling my mother that I love her. I’m sure she knew how much I cared about her, but I never actually told her directly. She passed away six months ago, and I just wish I told her how much she meant to me.”

“I regret saving so much money! I tell all my children and grandchildren to live in the moment, and enjoy life to the fullest. All my life, I’ve been working so hard and saving all the money for retirement. I had a plan; I wanted to travel all around the world with my wife after I retired. I never imagined that she would pass away so soon, and I’d be left with all this money.”

“I regret not chasing my dreams. I had big dreams when I was a teenager; I wanted to start my own restaurant. After college, I got married and had kids, and I had to take care of them. My priorities changed. When my children finally graduated, my husband fell ill, and was bedridden. I spent four long years taking care of him before he passed away. I don’t regret my life, I loved it. I had a wonderful family, and loved cooking good food for them! Yet, I would advise others to chase their dreams while they still can.”

“I can’t believe I spent eighteen precious years of my life studying. I wish I could say that the education was worthwhile, but it wasn’t. What we learn in the classroom has no connection with the work we do later on in life. I regret focusing too much on becoming ‘highly qualified’ because it really wasn’t worth all the time and effort.”

“I spent all my life trying to please other people. I was so worried about what they would think about my family. I realized that others will always have an opinion about you; whether you are fat or thin, rich or poor. I regret wasting my time and energy in worrying about what others think about me. I don’t care anymore. I live life in my own terms, and I feel so relieved and happy.”
“I wish I had not worried so much in life, and took pleasure in the little things in life. When I look back now, I never had a moment to stop and enjoy life. I was constantly worrying about work, money and education. I never went for my child’s school play, or took my wife on a spontaneous date. I regret not doing that. There was no point in worrying so much. When I look at my grandchildren now, I see how much I have missed when my children were growing up.”

“I regret smoking when I was younger. I’m suffering for it now. When I was young, smoking was the ‘cool’ thing to do. It also managed to reduce the stress that I was feeling. Yet, if I could take it back, I would. It was not worth it.”

“I wish I went scuba diving! I used to be extremely scared to try it, but now when I am 80, I really wish I could do it!

“I regret being too strict on my children when they were growing up. I just wanted them to do well in school, and become successful. I remember my daughter telling me that she hated me when she was sixteen. Apparently all teenage girls say that, but it really upset me. I wish I was a little more liberal with my children and allowed them to enjoy their youth.”

“I wish I quit my job earlier. I worked in the same company for thirty years before gathering the courage to quit. I was never passionate about my job. I just worked for the money, so that I could financially support my family and ensure that my children got a good education. When I look back, I could have easily got a better job with a better pay if I quit earlier.”

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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