It’s a natural human emotion and we can not avoid it throughout our lives, regret is something we all experience. Some regrets are small and can easily be forgotten but some can impact our lives and stay with us forever.
However, regret isn’t always something to feel negative about, we can all learn from our mistakes so we can avoid these choices in the future and this can shape us into the person we have become or want to be.
A Loving Tribute, providers of personalised funeral stationery, understand that we want to live our lives as regret-free as possible but also understand the importance of passing on the wisdom we have gained from these contritions to younger generations in the hope that history will not repeat itself. You can see a full range of their funeral order of service template here.
A Loving Tribute surveyed 500 over 65s to gain an understanding of what the elderly think is their biggest life regret and what they would advise their 18-year-old self to avoid these feelings.
The most common theme within answers was the regret of not looking after one’s own mental health and maintaining a positive mental attitude within their teens. Common answers included:
● Don’t worry
● Love yourself
● Be kind to yourself
● Be true to yourself
● Believe in yourself
● Be confident
So, most retirees wish they had a more positive outlook during their teenage years. There is now a massive focus in the media and the government about looking after our own mental health. Systems are not yet perfect but have certainly improved within the last few decades and schools and businesses are not more open to discussing this and removing the stigma of mental health issues.
Would these respondents still have the same answers if they had access to the support teenagers receive today?
Although we all know the trials and tribulations we go through during our teen years and becoming an adult and finding ourselves can be a troublesome period no matter what support we do have.
Perhaps this advice is offered, not because we hugely regret how we treated ourselves but the realisation that as we age, these worries we once had are revealed as trivial in the greater picture of our lives and we know it ‘turns out fine’ in the end.
After positive attitudes, the biggest regret was not achieving certain academic levels or following the right career paths, answers included:
● Be ambitious in your career
● Learn a trade
● Work and learn hard
● Study harder
● Go to uni
● Go back to school
Previously, college and university was reserved for the elite and the families we were born into really determined our career paths. Nowadays, loans and bursaries are available to those on a more modest income, meaning more people are now able to attend.
But does this mean that today’s teenagers should be advised to go to university? Many teenagers have witnessed older family members attend university, only to graduate into a highly-competitive job market and with vast amounts of student debt.
Instead, they are now choosing to learn a trade or take apprenticeships to get more experience under their belt and stand out among the candidates who have gone straight from school back into education.
The education system is constantly changing, along with the job market, it appears what works well with one generation may not suit the other and we can never know for sure which is the best route to take until we experience it ourselves.
Most of us wish we had managed to have a different career due to the paycheque that comes with it. Money has been a worry for the majority of humans since its invention and it will probably continue to be so for centuries.
The next biggest regret from today’s over 65s was not saving more:
● Start a small savings account the day you start work and put something in every payday
● Get a good pension scheme
● Get a pension
● Save more
● Start saving
It is rather redundant enjoying our earlier years during our free time from work if we are unable to support ourselves after retirement, or worse, be unable to afford to retire at all.
But can today’s younger generation think that far ahead? With so many struggling to save to get onto the housing ladder, retirement may be the last thing on their minds. Perhaps we need to focus younger generations’ attention on their later years, rather than the present financial struggles.
Another common theme was the regret of previous relationships. We all regret past loves but there are other relationships that seem to be the biggest regret. Some answers included:
● Don’t get married
● Don’t have kids
● Don’t sign the adoption papers
● Do not get married at 18
● He’s a liar
● Stay single
The average age for marriage in 1973 for men was 28 years old and 26 for women. In 2013, this changed dramatically to 36 for men and 34 for women. While specific data as to why this is has not been disclosed, we can speculate.
Younger people are starting to learn from older generations that a relationship is not to be rushed, witnessing divorces and unhappy marriages has led to generations taking a slower approach to plunging into such a commitment.
Following on from pursuing careers, many are now placing their education and jobs as their top priorities. Ensuring a stable career and home life before starting families.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? Hopefully, you do not possess any regrets so large that you wish you could have changed the course of your life so dramatically. However and more importantly, if you do, would your teen self even take this advice on board?
Teenagers are infamously stubborn and perhaps no matter what we would have been told earlier in life, it would not have altered our choices.