The Most Common Regrets of People Over 50


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Regrets? The over-50s have had a few, but who hasn’t? Frank Sinatra may have crooned about having too few to mention, yet as we age, the opposite seems truer. Instead of fading away, regrets begin to accumulate, especially as we realize there’s less time to carpe that diem. 

Turning 50 opens the door to a room filled with “what-ifs” and “if-onlys.” We looked around and found the top eight regrets that often haunt those crossing the mid-century mark, according to many studies and therapists.

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1. Marrying the Wrong Person

Come wedding day, everyone vows to stay together through thick and thin, hoping to end up like one of those adorable elderly couples who hold hands while strolling through the park. Sadly, in some cases, love fades away sooner than later, with a fifth of people over 50 saying their biggest regret is marrying the wrong person. It’s not a surprise that the rate of divorce after age 50 is higher than ever, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association.

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2. Not Achieving Enough

Taking youth for granted is all too common, with many adopting the mindset, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” However, life’s distractions often lead us to achieve less than half of our goals. This, research suggests, becomes a significant regret by the age of 50. A 2018 study found that 72% of adults over 50 regret not living up to their ideal self-image, highlighting the disconnect between aspirations and reality.

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3. Not Saving Enough for Retirement

When we’re young and in the throes of our careers, retirement seems like a far-off concern that we’ll deal with when the time comes. But as that time draws nearer, many find themselves regretting their lack of preparation. According to a YouGov poll for Bankrate, a staggering 56% of workers admit they’re not on track with their retirement savings, with 37% feeling they’re significantly behind.


To add to the concern, Americans now believe they need about $1.8 million to retire comfortably, marking a $100,000 increase from the previous year’s estimate, according to a survey by Charles Schwab.

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4. Not Traveling Enough

People often leave traveling for their retirement days. However, in many cases, traveling in your golden years becomes harder due to the expense. Many people over the age of 50 regret not traveling enough: A survey reveals that a whopping 91% of people over 50 wish they had seen more of the world. Even the most traveled people still wish they could go on one more trip.

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5. Not Taking More Risks

Lewis Carroll famously said, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” For many over 50, these words hit close to home. Whether it’s a job opportunity or a love interest that slipped through the cracks, the sting of missed opportunities and shying away from risks can lead to lingering regrets. It’s all too easy to find ourselves stuck in dead-end jobs or toxic relationships, wondering “what if?”

“Many look back with regret for not taking more risks, whether it was exploring new avenues or leaving a comfortable job for something that posed a greater challenge,” Ian Jackson, LPC-MHSP, LMHC, NCC, Clinical Director at Recovery Unplugged, told Newsful. “Taking risks early on can lead to opportunities that might otherwise have been missed. Mastering the art of calculated risk-taking is a vital skill that too many people come to appreciate only after the fact.”

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6. Not Prioritizing Time With Aging Parents

Caught up in the whirlwind of careers, raising children, and personal pursuits, it’s all too easy to forget that our parents are also growing older, their need for companionship and support increasing with each passing year. And once they’re gone, it’s too late. Reflecting on missed opportunities to create lasting memories or provide comfort in their twilight years, 50-year-olds frequently express a wish to have spent more quality time with their parents.

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7. Losing Contact With Friends

Jobs, family obligations, or just not bothering to call back are the most common culprits of letting some good friendships slip away. Life just gets too busy, right?  And then, one day, you find yourself lonely and thinking about all the friends you haven’t seen in ages. 

“It takes time for many people to realize how vital our friends are to our wellbeing,” Colorado-based psychologist and life transitions expert Elisa Robyn, PhD, told Best Life. “When we face a life crisis or want to celebrate something wonderful, it is our friends who gather around us. Our long-term friends who know us well and share our history matter more as we age,” she added.

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8. Not Paying More Attention to Wellness

When we’re younger, we think we’re invincible – eating whatever we want, skipping workouts because there’s “always tomorrow,” or pushing our bodies to the limit without proper rest. But then you reach an age where those choices start to catch up with you.

“Many people will say to themselves, ‘I enjoy smoking’ or ‘I don’t like to exercise’ or ‘I just like to eat — who cares if I die a little sooner?’”Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University, told TODAY. “The problem is in this day and age is you’re not going to die sooner, you’re going to be stuck with 10 or 20 years of chronic disease as modern medicine keeps you alive.”

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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