Workers Say These Are Their 5 Biggest Life Regrets

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Upset man holding his his forehead in regret
Khosro /

If you have lived on this planet for any length of time, you have regrets. Certainly by age 30, “what ifs” and “should haves” begin to pile up in your mind. And the list grows longer with each passing year.

While regrets differ from person to person, there are some laments that many of us share. Recently, American Century Investments surveyed 1,500 full-time workers and asked them to share their biggest life regrets as part of the firm’s 9th Annual Survey of Retirement Plan Participants.

The workers were between ages 25 and 65 and reported saving through their employer’s retirement plan. Following is a list of their regrets and the percentage of workers who placed each regret at No. 1 on their list.

Not being a better person overall

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Respondents who cited this as their biggest regret: 6%

We all wish we could take back things we have said or done. Such regrets stretch from our days on the school playground to last week’s office meeting.

A small percentage of respondents said not being a better person was their top life regret. The good news? It’s never too late to turn this regret around.

Not doing enough to enjoy life

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Respondents who cited this as their biggest regret: 14%

Some of us spend endless days chained to our desks, never taking time to smell the roses just outside the office door. Others simply default to seeing the glass as three-quarters empty.

It is time to stop doing the things that rob you of joy. For more tips on squeezing the most out of life, check out “9 Habits Happy People Use to Make Life Better.”

Not doing better with personal relationships

Couple having an argument
Africa Studio /

Respondents who cited this as their biggest regret: 14%

Maintaining strong relationships can be a challenge, but the rewards make it worth the effort.

As we have reported, retirees say their chief source of fulfillment is spending time with loved ones. In other words, those who have lived long — and who have seen all of life’s ups and downs — have learned that nothing beats being surrounded by those you love.

For more wisdom from retirees, check out “8 of the Greatest Sources of Fulfillment for Retirees.”

Not doing better in your career

confused senior looking at computer
metamorworks /

Respondents who cited this as their biggest regret: 14%

In the modern world — especially in America — what you do for a living often defines you. Thus, it is no surprise that a healthy segment of survey respondents say their chief regret is not doing better when it comes to career goals.

But as with becoming a better person, it’s never too late to get your career moving.

Not saving more for retirement

Senior couple with empty wallet discussing financial issues
Halfpoint /

Respondents who cited this as their biggest regret: 35%

The top life regret — by a mile — for American workers is not saving more for retirement. In fact, the percentage who cited this as their No. 1 regret was more than double that of any other item on this list.

While it’s never too late to save for your golden years, the job is easier the earlier you start. So, if you are young — and even if you are not — consider enrolling in the Money Talks News course Money Made Simple.

The course will teach you everything from how to set and achieve goals to ways to live more while spending less.

No regrets

Man listening to music on headphones at work
Drazen Zigic /

Respondents who cited no regrets: 14%

Finally, a decent percentage of survey respondents said they had no major life regrets. It appears these folks simply take life as it comes and if they make mistakes, quickly move on from them. We tip our caps to these sunny-side-up optimists!

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