7 Things You'll Regret in Old Age

Sometimes, the activities and tasks we dedicate our time to are far-removed from the things actually we want or like to do. It's important to reflect on how much attention we give to other, perhaps far more valuable uses of our time.
7 Things You'll Regret in Old Age

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 26 May, 2022

At some time or other, you may have been told things like, “live your life, enjoy it to the full, because if you don’t, you may regret it in old age”. And once you start thinking about it, it can often be difficult to get this idea out of your head.

Living life by a set routine that doesn’t bring you any real joy or satisfaction is far from pleasant and, when you look back, you’re unlikely to have many fond memories. It’s best to avoid tying yourself to a routine, or maintaining the same routine for so long that it later leaves you with a deep sense of regret that you never got out of your comfort zone and enjoyed life.

7 things you’ll regret in old age

Here, we’d like to invite you to consider a series of questions. That way, you can reflect on them carefully and take action before it’s too late.

1. Not having the courage to be your true self

A smiling woman hugging herself.

This is something many people regret later in life. The obligations that our age or society impose on us are sometimes incompatible with our own wishes and desires.

Doing what we’re supposed to do can sometimes serve as a useful point of reference, but it doesn’t always represent the true concerns of each individual.

As such, we need to find a balance between our commitments and our passions. Devoting yourself to the things you like or, failing that, trying to enjoy what you do, will allow you to look back with no regrets.

2. Staying in an unsatisfying job instead of taking risks and following your passion

This regret goes hand in hand with the first, but it has more to do with the job in which you invest a large part of your life.

Given that a normal job usually takes up 40 hours of your time each week, we’re talking about something that demands a significant amount of dedication and commitment. This becomes even more complicated if you spend that time in a job you dislike, or tasks that don’t excite you.

Put aside what others expect of you and ask yourself: what do you really want? Are you really where you want to be?

3. Not spending enough time with family is one of the things you might regret in old age

If family is so important, why not spend more time with them? Call your parents or your siblings, visit them on the weekends or, if you live too far away, you could even organize a video call. These are just some of the ways you can spend more time with family.

There are so many ways to stay in touch. Don’t put it off until you have more time, because “later” may be too late.

We recommend reading: The Benefits of Having a Pet in The Family

4. Not expressing your true feelings

Not expressing how you really feel is something that you’ll regret in old age. As you get older, habits become harder to change, and this one is no exception.

The sooner you start to express yourself, the sooner you’ll develop new, healthier habits. For example, you could start by telling your loved ones just how much they mean to you.

The worst thing that can happen is that you spend the rest of your days regretting that you didn’t do it sooner.

5. Not keeping in touch with old friends

A hand holding a cellphone.

This can be difficult, especially when you live or work in a different city, state, or even country. If a lot of time has passed since you last saw or spoke to them, your lives are probably completely different.

In this sense, it’s important to note that both fate and time can create distances between people, separating them from one another.

But there are ways to communicate and keep in touch with old friends, whether it be via phone, through social media, or a quick lunch or coffee to catch up.

If you keep putting it off, you’ll eventually stop trying altogether. This is something you’ll undoubtedly regret later in life.

6. Working too much is one of the things you might regret in old age

While taking too much time off is perhaps not the best idea, you might want set aside some time in your schedule for the things that make you happy.

In many ways, a simple hug, feeling sand between your toes as you walk along the beach, or dedicating time to your hobbies are all better than spending extra hours in the office or sitting on the couch watching TV.

Check out this article: Value Those Who Give You Their Time

7. Not traveling or taking enough vacations

Maybe there’s a way for you to enjoy more free time. What do you do with your vacation time? Do you have flexible policies at your company to allow you to have a better work-life balance? Do you try to make plans that allow you to do the things you enjoy?

These questions call attention to the importance of setting boundaries, and the benefits that both leisure and vacation time can have on our health and well-being.

Rather than leaving the fulfilment of these needs to chance, stop and think about your situation for a moment. This will allow you to make better, wiser decisions.

A map, toy airplane and compass.

And you, what will you regret in old age?

With these thoughts, ideas and reflections, we wanted to highlight certain worries and concerns that may weigh on you when you grow old. Think about them from time to time, and be sure to review your routine so that you can make any necessary changes, for your own sake.

You don’t have to wait until the very last moment to start living your life. Go ahead and enjoy it, and try to live each new day with passion and enthusiasm.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Azzarelli, K. K. (2016). Rethinking happiness: using your power for purposea. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1384(1), 32–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13149
  • Johnson, B. T., & Acabchuk, R. L. (2018). What are the keys to a longer, happier life? Answers from five decades of health psychology research. Social Science & Medicine, 196, 218–226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.001; texto completo
  • Lee, M.-A., & Kawachi, I. (2019). The keys to happiness: Associations between personal values regarding core life domains and happiness in South Korea. PLoS One, 14(1), e0209821. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209821

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.