“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” Frank Sinatra once sang. “But then again, too few to mention.” That’s easy for him to say. He was the chairman of the board, after all, and one of the most famous entertainers of all time. If he had a “few” regrets, what chance to the rest of us have?
According to some studies, at least a third of Americans have regrets, and those regrets only pile on with age. When you’re in your 20s, you regret what you did last weekend. When you reach 30, you start to have regrets about entire decades; what you didn’t do yet, and what you maybe shouldn’t have done at all. But having regrets in our 30s means there’s still plenty of time to course correct.
Here are 30 of the most common regrets that people have when they reach 30. And to be sure not to repeat past mistakes, avoid these 40 Habits to Drop by Age 40.
Putting work first
Your career is important, of course, but it should never be the priority. If you spend too much time in front of your computer, trying to please your boss, you’re going to miss out on the parts of life that actually matter. If your job requires a lot of you, then it might be time to implement these 20 Genius Ways to Make Work More Fun.
Not taking better care of your body
It’s easy when you’re in your teens and 20s to think your body will always be resilient and self-repairing. That becomes less true when you hit your 30s, and it gets harder to do the things that were once so effortless. If only you’d made it to the gym more often, or ate a few more vegetables, it would have made such a difference. If this applies to you, it’s time to get healthier with these 52 Super-Fast Health Boosters.
Not starting your 401K earlier
Money has a way of burning a hole in your pocket when you’re 20. What’s the point of having cash if you don’t spend it immediately? Well, your retirement may still be many years away, but by the time you reach 30, a lack of any meaningful savings starts to seem like a really bad idea. Take better care of your green with these 52 Easy Ways to Be Smarter with Money in 2018.
Caring too much about what other people think
You can waste a lot of time and mental energy worrying about other people. “Do they like me? Am I cool enough? Successful enough? Funny enough?” It really doesn’t matter. Here’s a spoiler for you: They’re not judging you as much as they’re worrying about what you think of them. And, for what it’s worth, this is definitely one of the 20 Terrible Teenage Health Habits Older People Still Have.
Rushing into marriage or babies
Many people get married and have babies in their 20s, and they feel completely fulfilled and blessed. And then there are people who get married and have babies because they think it’s what they’re supposed to do, and they didn’t really think through how to change their life.
You can wait. Age 30 is not too old to start thinking about a family, or even putting it off a little longer, or maybe not doing it at all. Rushing into something too quickly has a way of ending in regrets. And if you’re struggling in your marriage, it might be time to try these 50 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Fresh.
Not spending time with your friends
“I sure am glad I stayed home every weekend and binge-watched TV rather than going out with friends and making memories that’ll stay with me forever,” said no one ever. There will never be an old person ever who wants to reminisce about having seen The Wire in its entirety three times, by himself, in his dark, lonely apartment. If you’re looking for some great bucket list things to do, look no further than this complete list.
Not spending more time with your parents
Your parents are growing older, even if you’d rather that they stay in some sort of ageless limbo. By the time you reach 30, you start to notice the passage of time, and realize how often you avoided them, because that’s just what young people do. They’re not getting any younger, and neither are you. Take advantage of every moment you have with them.
Committing to the wrong career
When you’re young, having any job at all can feel like a miracle. If it pays and you don’t entirely hate it, it’s no big deal, right? You can always switch jobs down the line. That logic falls apart when you’re 30 and the job you had till something better comes along becomes what you’re doing with your life. And to reignite your professional life, check out these 40 Best Ways to Jumpstart Your Career.
Spending too much time online
We’re living in an age where basically everyone has online addiction, it’s just how we manage our dependence. Are we staring down at our phones incessantly or just occasionally? If you were to share the number of hours you spent online in your 20s, would the number be mildly embarrassing or mortifying? Are you one of those people who has been threatening to quit Facebook for the past five years but you just need one more thumbs-up like before you say goodbye?
It’s a big world with so much to see and experience. The problem is, as you get older and your personal responsibilities increase, it becomes more difficult to take a break and go backpacking through Europe. If you haven’t done it yet, the odds of you going on a global expedition just for the heck of it get a little less every year. But jumpstart your travel itinerary with these 37 Travel Destinations Every Man Over 40 Should Have Visited.
Doing things you weren’t comfortable with so that strangers would like you
Is there anything more intoxicating than the admiration of people you don’t know? Not if you’re 30, but that revelation often comes too late to be useful.
Being way too negative
Negativity is like a drug, and the more you do it the more you want to indulge. It’s not until you’ve been on this earth for three decades that you start to realize just how pointless it is to be negative for negative sake. Along with negativity, these are the 15 Natural Urges You Should Always Be Able to Recognize—And Fight.
Forgetting to slow down
That old cliché “take some time to stop and smell the roses” can feel like, well, a cliché. But when you’re 30, you start to realize why it rings true. The important moments are hardly ever when you’re in a hurry, trying to get as much done as possible. The moments that matter are when you’re able to take a pause, look around, and drink it all in.
Not using sunscreen
Sunburns go away, but skin damage can stick around for a lifetime. You’re going to feel like an idiot in your 30s for every time you went to the beach and skipped the sunscreen. Better your aging skin by avoiding these 20 Habits That Make Dry Skin Worse.
Rushing into home ownership
Owning a home is amazing, but life isn’t a game show and the person with the first house wins. You don’t have to buy a home just to buy a home. You can take some time, try out different neighborhoods, or even consider if you’re living in the right city. That might be the most important lesson of turning 30, that you had more time for big decisions than you realized. And wherever you’re living, make sure you know the 30 Home Decorations No One Over 30 Should Own.
Not getting out of your comfort zone
Great things can happen when you don’t take the easy way out. If you’ve never tried something just because it was scary or because you weren’t so sure you could pull it off, you’ve let yourself off the hook too many times. Maybe it’s finally getting around to writing that book, or maybe it’s parachuting out of an airplane. If it terrifies you, that means you’re on the right path.
Ignoring your mistakes
What’s that old saying? “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s not your mistakes that matter but whether you’ve learned anything from them. If the mistakes you’re making a 30 look pretty much like the mistakes you made it 20, you weren’t paying attention the first time. Learn from your mistakes, and check out these 20 Mistakes That Will Only Compound Your Stress.
This obviously doesn’t apply to everybody. Some tattoos are a meaningful and beautiful reminder of important times in your life. And some tattoos, well, they are just reminders of how much you loved Outkast in college.
Falling in love with someone who loves someone else
Romantic dead ends are easy to recognize in hindsight, but not so much when you’re right in the middle of it. You’re madly in love with them but they’re attached or attracted to somebody else, so you think if you just wait and pine long enough they’ll eventually realize that you’re the one for them. So much time wasted.
Not putting yourself first
It’s noble to be selfless and put other people’s needs over your own, just not all the time. There’s a fine line between being a caring and supportive friend, and being a sucker. If you’ve spent too much of your 20s making sure other people are okay and ignoring your own needs, you’ll want to hit the reset button by the time you hit 30.
Valuing things over people
It seems so obvious when you say it out loud—of course, relationships are more important than possessions—but it’s a lesson that often takes time to sink in. If you’re a 30 year old with a big house and two sports cars in the garage but not a close circle of friends, you may have gotten your priorities out of whack. This is one of the 20 Ways You’re Making Your Life Way Harder Than It Needs to Be.
Not finishing college
It’s not just about the degree. Those four years of college—or five, or more, we’re not judging—define us and empower us in ways we don’t truly comprehend until years later. If you were in a hurry to get on with life and college seemed like a waste of time, you can count on that omission being something you regret down the line.
Partying too much
Binge-drinking is on the rise among people in their 20s, according to recent studies. Which means people in their 30s feeling embarrassed and remorseful about all the binge-drinking they did—which seemed like a good idea at the time, but those stories never have happy endings—is likely also on the rise.
Putting off spontaneity
Because as everybody knows, it’s soooo much easier to drop all your plans and responsibilities and get in a car with no destination in mind when you’re 30 or older.
Not reading more books
We’re not talking about books you were required to read for school. We mean books that you personally picked out, and read during quiet moments alone, and remembered what it felt like to not be a passive media consumer staring at his or her phone. If you need some suggestions, here are 40 books you should have on your bookshelf. Catch up on your reading list with these 20 Poets You Haven’t Read But Should.
Eating too much fast food
It’s not just about your health. Yes, all that greasy McCardboard is not doing your body any favors. But it’s also about rewarding your taste buds. You don’t want to look back on the culinary adventures of your youth and think, “It was mostly covered in nacho cheese.”
It seems like such a silly thing to regret. “Hey, at least I brushed my teeth every day, right? That’s gotta count for something.” Floss. Trust us on this. Go floss your teeth right now. Then do it again. You’ll thank us later.
Avoiding credit card debt you can’t pay off in a month
Credit card debt doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like one day you decide to buy a yacht and then suddenly you’re broke. It happened over years, with every credit card purchase you make without a game plan for paying it off within the month. Those little payments add up, and by the time you reach 30, it can start to feel unmanagable.
Nobody in their 30s looks back on their 20s and thinks, “Well at least I only smoked when I was drinking.” There’s no “good” amount of smoking, and you’ll never be happy with that dirty habit in the long run.
Not trusting your gut
Whether it’s love or work, family or finances, you usually know the right decision instinctively. But did you act on your gut impulses? Did you make the smart call, or did you ignore that little voice in your head that was telling you things you didn’t want to hear? Give your intuition a little help with these 15 Secret Tricks for Spotting a Lie Every Time.
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