Top 10 Things You Will Regret When You Are Old (How to Avoid These Regrets)

Let’s talk about regrets.


The worse form of regret you can have is when you can’t do anything about it anymore. For example, when you wake up one day at 90 years old and realize you have not fulfilled the dreams you have when you were 9. Time is up and you have to go soon.


Some say life is short, some say life is long, I say life is unpredictable and you will never know if you can even live up to 90. So live in the moment and aim to minimize regrets.


In this article, we will look at the top 10 common regrets people have when life comes to an end and how you can avoid these regrets.


Let’s dive in!


Top 10 Biggest Regrets


#1 – I wish I had the courage to follow my dreams


One of the worse regrets you can have in your life is not following your dreams.


When a kid tells you, “When I grow up, I wanna be a scientist and I will invent things to make the world a better place”, most people would give full encouragement to the kid but when it comes to their own dreams, they have chosen to give up.


The fact is, if you are going to do something crazy that is not considered “safe”, you will get a lot of negative opinions from the people around you, even from your loved ones.


Let’s be clear here, by following your dreams, you are not taking the easy way out, but rather, you are choosing a harder and riskier way out. Be patient as success doesn’t happen overnight, the results you get will come from years of hard work, and the ups and downs of the journey would be much more meaningful if you are following your own dreams.


So please, go out there and follow your dreams. Ignore the noises and don’t let your dreams go unfulfilled due to the choices you make from what others say.


#2 – I wish I had traveled more often


Traveling is something magical you buy that makes you richer.


As you travel, you begin to know yourself more, immerse in different cultures, gain new perspectives and accumulate exciting experiences in life. Let the adventure begins!


However, traveling becomes harder the older you get as you have more work and family commitments. This can be mitigated by planning your travels months ahead and actually purchasing the air tickets instead of just talking about it.


There are so many places in this world for you to explore, make it a goal to travel often and by the end of your life, you can say that you have seen the world.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


#3 – I wish I had the courage to take more risks


All winners will take some form of risks.


No one will know if the risks they are taking will pay off handsomely, that is just the way it is with life. You never know. And this is what makes life exciting….


If you repeatedly take the safe path, you will get accustomed to it and you will live a cautious life without ever taking any risks.


If you want to start a business that you believe in, but you have seen statistics which show that 80% of businesses fail, will you still go for it? Or will you put off starting your business, given that the chances of succeeding are slim, and it requires you to brave and take risks?


While I am a big believer in taking risks, start off by weighing out the pros and cons of your choices and then listening to your gut in the end. Sometimes our intuition is far greater than the facts, the statistics, the analytics.


If there are no risk takers in the world, companies like Apple, Amazon, and Uber would never have existed and made our lives more convenient.


As the old saying goes, “If you never try, you’ll never know.” And not knowing the “what if” is a big regret in itself.


#4 – I wish I had spent more time with my family


Most people are spending too much time working, and in the midst of it all, will neglect their family members.


You work so hard for your family, but if working so hard means that you can’t see them often, is it really worth it? If you are working long hours every day with no time and energy left for your family, take a step back and ask yourself, why?


Don’t look through the family pictures 10-20 years later and find out that there is always one person that is missing……You!


If both of your parents are still around now, realize how lucky you are and make sure to devote quality time to them. If you are really lucky, you still have your grandparents around, I plead you to put your phone away and start talking to them, listen to their stories of the good ol’ days, care for them, and absorb their wisdom.


At the end of the day, you can have everything in the world, money, power, status, but none of that would matter without family and love. Don’t regret only when it is too late.


#5 – I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying


This is a big one.


Worrying is foolish because most of the time you can’t do anything about it and it will only waste your time. The time you waste worrying could be used in a more positive manner such as working on your dreams, exercising, or spending time with your family members.


“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee


To have a more positive feeling of well-being and lesser anxiety, try out meditation. Here’s how you can get started with only 5 minutes a day:


1. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed and both feet resting on your opposite knee.

2. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders.

3. Inhale and exhale slowly through your nostrils

4. Focus on your breath and eliminate any thoughts that come into your mind. This will take a bit of practice at the start as your thoughts keep entering your mind.


Do this for 5 minutes every day and gradually work your way up to one hour a day. You will feel much happier in the long run as you meditate frequently.


Another tip you can try is to exercise your brain by reading books in the area of your interest and then applying what you have learned. When our brain is empty, it’ll start worrying about the small things that don’t matter.


#6 – I wish I had not worked so hard


Even if you love your job a lot, don’t work on it 18 hours a day, there are other aspects of life such as your family, health, and hobbies to devote your time into.


If you focus on your work with no distractions, you can accomplish a lot by working 8 full hours a day. You always have a choice when it comes to work, and sometimes it just boils down to being more focus and productive in your work. A good tip would be to stay away from social media while you are at work, as it will cause unwanted distractions.


Work hard, but don’t work so hard until you neglect other areas of your life. Have a balance.


#7 – I wish I had adopted a healthier lifestyle


Health is one of those things that people will only appreciate when it’s too late. Cultivate a healthy lifestyle and treat your body with the care it deserves.


Aim to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. If you don’t like working out in the gym, you can always choose to play other sports you love.


As for nutrition, eat more fruits, vegetables, foods rich in protein and other foods approved by your mom. Try to cut out foods such as doughnuts, French fries, cakes. Also, read the nutrition label in the foods before you purchase and avoid anything with trans fat in it as research shows that trans fat can increase the risk of heart disease.


Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. Research shows that insufficient sleep can reduce the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars. This could lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.


As for optimal sleep, the National Institutes of Health suggest adults to sleep 7-8 hours a day, while teens require 9-10 hours a day. To fall asleep faster and avoid sleep disruption, put away your mobile phones and computer 30 minutes before sleeping.


Health is a freedom in itself, take care of your body and treasure it. Exercise frequently, eat healthily and sleep like a baby.


#8 – I wish I had spent more time with my friends


I know, I know, life gets in the way, friends come and go.


Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It’s crazy how the friends you see in college every day will be the friends you see twice a year as you enter the work force, and then slowly you only see them few years once.


The problem is we are always waiting for our friends to call us to come out, while our friends are also thinking the same way. Take the initiative and plan outings with your friends, go for trips together and create more long-lasting memories.


Do something crazy with your friends once in a while to break out from your usual routine. If you don’t do stupid things while you are young, you will have nothing to smile about when you are old!


#9 – I wish I had ended an incompatible relationship sooner


Most people would wait too long to end a relationship that is not working, for the fear of loneliness.


If you are not compatible with that person, the relationship will end anyway. End it early and don’t waste each other’s time. The longer you drag it, the higher the chances of the relationship ending badly.


#10 – I wish I had mastered a skill


By the end of your life, you will want to be known for being the expert and master of one thing. To become an expert in one skill, avoid the shiny object syndrome and spend a large portion of your time practicing just that one skill and be really good in it.


All-rounders who seem to be excellent at many things only exist in movies. In real life, most people are mediocre or even bad at many things. The ones who are successful in life have mastered one important skill to help them live a comfortable and wealthy life.


So how long does it takes to achieve mastery?


Invest in yourself an estimated 10,000 hours to hone your craft. While the number of hours will always be highly debatable (no one will accurately know how long), 10,000 hours is a solid base to follow. As you will be putting so much of your time to master a skill, make sure it is something that you truly enjoy and love.


Choose mastery on one skill over being mediocre in many different skills.




The main problem most of us have is sometimes we think that we will live forever, so we think that there is still time. The sad fact is you cannot negotiate with death, when it comes, it comes.


Here’s a recap of the top 10 things you can do to avoid regrets:


1. Follow your dreams

2. Travel

3. Take risks

4. Spend time with family

5. Worry lesser

6. Have a work-life balance

7. Adopt a healthy lifestyle

8. Spend time with friends

9. End an incompatible relationship

10. Master a skill


If you can live twice in your life, then go ahead and do what others want you to do in your first life, if you hate it, you can always follow your dreams and do the things you have always wanted to in your second life.


Unfortunately, you only live once, as cliché as it sounds, you really do only live once.


“Do you want to take the leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regrets, waiting to die alone.” -Saito, Inception


Make a list of the things you want to experience in life and start crossing them off one by one, not today nor tomorrow, but in the years to come, enjoy this process and don’t see it as a checklist that you must cross off ASAP. This is not a to-do list at work. This is life. Savor the moment.


Over to you

Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on the top 10 regrets? Any other major regrets I had missed out?

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4 thoughts on “Top 10 Things You Will Regret When You Are Old (How to Avoid These Regrets)

  1. I have most of these regrets too. The thing is, they’re the kinds of things we wish we could do without impeding on other aspects of our lives.

    For example, staying in touch with friends takes a lot of time and, sadly, some things become more important than some of your friends.

    Overall a great article!!

  2. Wonderful blog, very thought-provoking.

    It looks like the top 10 regrets are mainly about not doing things, rather than doing them…not spending time with loved ones, not fulfilling ambitions. I guess we gotta start doing more things…

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