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These Are The Things That Older People Most Regret

*This article was originally published by Caitlin McCormack at MSN*

For many, growing older and entering the “golden years” is a time of celebration. Worries about career are often over, their homes are paid off, and they have ample time to enjoy their families or favorite activities. But for many others, the passage of time is just a reminder of all the things they haven’t done, or wish they’d done differently. These are the most common regrets older people have.


Research by psychologists from Cornell University found that one of the biggest regrets people have is cheating on a partner. Not surprisingly, this decision leaves many wondering about what might have been had they only been faithful. The research from Cornell found that many people’s regrets fell into two main categories; “ought-self regrets” (related to obligations) and “ideal-self regrets” (related to goals and aspirations).

Rebelling As A Teen

Another “ought-self regret” that many older people have, according to the research by psychologist Tom Gilovich and former Cornell graduate student Shai Davidai, is rebelling heavily as a youth. Especially as people age and become parents and grandparents themselves, they might think about their own adolescence and regret how they treated their parents.

Not Visiting A Dying Relative

Perhaps there was some bad blood between the parties, or someone was simply not able to make it to be by the side of a dying relative for whatever reason, but the Cornell research found many people had regrets about not being able to see a dying relative one last time to say goodbye.

Not Keeping A Secret

There’s a social contract that comes with someone telling you something sensitive, and asking you to keep a secret. The Cornell research found that people who spilled the beans on something they were asked to keep private often had regrets later in life.

Quitting School

Not many people would relish the idea of taking a test or writing an essay, but research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in 2008 found that a major source of regret later in life for many people was missing out on educational opportunities.

Not Choosing Their Career Wisely

The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin also found that the second-leading cause of regrets in older people had to do with their career choice. They speculated that as people age, it becomes increasingly difficult to switch careers, and that many people feel stuck in careers that are not fulfilling or maybe weren’t their first choice.

Not Taking Career Risks

Another career-related regret that many older people have is not taking more risks during their time in the workforce. According to a study from Allianz Life Insurance Co., 38% of respondents said they regretted not taking more risks with their careers.

Not Traveling More

The Allianz study also found that 56% of people said they would travel “extensively” or live in a different place if given the opportunity to do things again. If you have wanderlust in your heart, don’t deny it or you might find you’ll regret it down the road when you can no longer travel.

Working Too Much

The old adage of “nobody on their deathbed ever wishes they’d spent more time at the office” really does hold weight, according to palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware. “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence,” she wrote on her blog.

You can read the full list of regrets by visiting the blog on MSN here!