Revealed: The UK’s top 5 regrets and what you can do about them

Whether it’s not travelling the world or not having that extra slice of cake, we all have a few regrets about opportunities that we didn’t take. I regularly meet clients that say: “if only I’d done this when I was younger!”

Studies have found that Brits spend more than 110 hours a year worrying about their regrets, while 80% of us feel our lives would be better if we had taken more risks when we had the chance.

In a recent survey, Brits identified their biggest regrets. Here are the top five, as well as a few tips so you can spend less time regretting your choices and more time doing something about them.

1. Not pursuing a better-paid job

It can sometimes be all too easy to settle with what you have, even if you want more. The uncertainty of moving to another job can be scary, especially when you have responsibilities like a mortgage or a child who has just started school.

It can also feel like there’s never a good time. In a tough job market, you can fear the instability of changing jobs. In a good job market, you can be overwhelmed by choice and then never take the plunge.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to change your job for a better-paid one. Your employability depends entirely on your own choices. So, if you want a new job, try learning a new skill in your spare time to broaden your potential.

Tip: Learn new skills in your spare time to expand your knowledge and make yourself more attractive to a potential employer.

2. Not keeping in touch with old friends

Everyone can name at least one old friend they wished they had stayed in touch with. Sadly, even if we mean to keep up with old friends when parting ways, it can be difficult to find the time.

Fortunately, in this technological age, it is easier than ever to stay in touch with people. Video-conferencing calls can enable an old group of friends to see each other again, even if they’re separated by a thousand miles.

Of course, video calls aren’t always the same as a face-to-face meeting. So, if you really want to keep a friendship alive – or revive an old one that’s cooled – consider setting a fixed number of days to meet. For example, one weekend every two months could be set aside for a catch-up.

Tip: Install a video-calling app, such as Skype, to talk to old friends face to face, if it’s not possible to meet them in person.

3. Not taking the plunge with a romance

The fear of rejection can be strongly felt. Nobody wants to feel they aren’t good enough or expose themselves to ridicule. It isn’t surprising, then, that not being more proactive romantically is one of the nation’s biggest regrets.

But, as ice hockey star Wayne Gretzky once famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The fear of rejection can stop you from having any chance with someone if you let it paralyse you.

It’s never too late to tell your romantic interest how you feel. If this person doesn’t feel the same way, as hard as it might be to hear that, you’ll see that rejection isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can often help you to reflect.

Tip: It’s never too late to find love, and rejection isn’t the end. As much as it might sting at the time, it can show you ways to improve yourself that you might not have thought of.

4. Not travelling more when life had fewer responsibilities

There is no shortage of beautiful holiday destinations in this world, so it will come as no surprise to hear that one of the nation’s biggest regrets is not travelling more when given the chance.

This might be just a little bit difficult at the moment given the global coronavirus pandemic, but while you’re waiting for things to return to normal, you have time to think about where you most want to visit.

Although it can be difficult to find the time to travel as we grow older, there is always some time, which is why it’s important to make the most of it. You may have less free time as you get older, but today you’re as young as you’ll ever be.

And, with good financial planning, you can have the confidence to book a once-in-a-lifetime trip without worrying that you’ll deplete your retirement savings.

Tip: Think about how you can best use your free time and travel the world when you can. Think about taking advantage of cheap flights to take city breaks at weekends.

5. Not saving more when younger

Don’t we all wish that we hadn’t frittered away so much money in the past when we need it in the present? When money is tight, it’s easy to think back on every impulse buy and feel that twinge of regret.

We can’t change our actions in the past, but if you wished you had saved more when you were younger, take it as a lesson instead of wasting your time regretting it. You can act by starting to save today for your future.

I meet many clients in their 40s and 50s who have finally decided to take saving seriously and want to make the most of their money. It’s never too late to start!

Tip: Start saving today and consider professional advice to help you maximise your savings.

Get in touch

While I might not be able to reunite you with a lost love or put you back in touch with an old friend, I can help you manage your money more effectively, so you’ll have one less regret in future. Please give me a call on 07769 156 250.


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The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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