Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old


Did anyone else see this list of regrets on BuzzFeed? I liked it. It made me think about myself and my work. I’m not sure what the percentage is, but some substantial amount of the work I do is helping people choose some of the things on this list or processing with them their regret that they didn’t. There are so many reasons we wind up with regrets like these. For me, it is almost always about values; the values I had in my twenties are different than the ones I had later. But I’m so, so grateful for the influences in my life that helped me see and choose a value before my age and perspective were really there.

I took a liberty to categorize some the regrets. I’m curious which regrets speak to you; either to your past actions or your current struggles. The gift of a list like this is that it helps us clarify that it is really never too late for us to do most things listed here. What is one regret mentioned below that you carry? Is there a way that you could address it today? If so, what is stopping you from making the first move?

The regrets that come up a lot in therapy (as regrets or current problems)

  • Staying in a bad relationship
  • Spending your youth self-absorbed
  • Caring too much about what other people think
  • Supporting others’ dreams over your own
  • Not moving on fast enough
  • Holding grudges, especially with those you love
  • Not standing up for yourself
  • Worrying too much
  • Getting caught up in needless drama
  • Being scared to do things
  • Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment
  • Not being grateful sooner

The regrets that made me ache for friends and loved ones

  • Not quitting a terrible job
  • Not realizing how beautiful you were
  • Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations
  • Refusing to let friendships run their course

The regrets that made me grateful I’d been so well influenced

  • Not traveling when you had the chance
  • Letting yourself be defined by gender roles
  • Not trying harder in school
  • Not learning how to cook one awesome meal
  • Being afraid to say “I love you”
  • Not listening to your parents’ advice
  • Failing to make physical fitness a priority
  • Neglecting your teeth

The regrets that made me think

  • Not taking the time to develop contacts and network
  • Not spending enough time with loved ones
  • Never performing in front of others
  • Failing to finish what you start
  • Never mastering one awesome party trick

For the complete list, click here

One Comment

  1. It is not possible to live without regrets. But choosing to live intentionally helps a lot toward such a desire. Jean Fleming’s book, Pursue the Intentional Life,(NavPress; 2013) speaks to this issue of regrets:”It’s not too late to grow and change (I take comfort in that) but more important, it’s never too soon to begin.” At age 50, Jean asked herself 2 questions: what kind of old woman will I become? And, how will I live the rest of my life? Her book is “material evidence of my longing and intention to live in Jesus, with Jesus, and for Jesus to the end of my life.” Jean has been my friend since college days and I treasure all of her books.

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