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Thanksgiving advice - regrets over chances not taken?

badgolferbadgolfer 234 replies8 threads Junior Member
edited November 2019 in Parent Cafe
Thanksgiving is almost here, a chance to give unsolicited advice to nieces and nephews about how to live their lives. Probably the best advice is not to do this ;-)

But I was curious about what people think about taking more chances. I've read articles based on interviews with the elderly. For example
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all,” Ware writes. “When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
https://greatist.com/live/most-common-regrets

I can certainly think of turning points in my life where in retrospect I wish I had more courage and had taken a chance. One example was staying at a job I wasn't too challenged or happy with out of college. Had I left I probably could have advanced in my career quicker and earned more those first few years (its common in my industry to give a decent raise to lure people away.

But the flip side is the "grass is always greener on the other side argument", or, more philosophically, how the desire to have taken more chances is given by those who didn't take the chances. What about those who took the chance, maybe they also have regrets.

Anyway, I'm wondering what people think. Do you have regrets about chances not taken? Do you advise others to do differently?
edited November 2019
20 replies
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Replies to: Thanksgiving advice - regrets over chances not taken?

  • esobayesobay 1355 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I like this question and will bring it up at our tiny TG dinner (just me, DH, DD, DS)... I think it will be the last one like that, but I am grateful for it. Our DD is in a transition period both work (recent graduated PhD), friend (most have moved away or are getting married left and right), and romantic (uncertain outcome for long term guy/friend/?).

    DH will say he regrets not taking a few jobs (he could have been #16 or so at Apple, back in the day, but he stayed with the less risky job).

    I really have no BIG regrets and I think about things like that pretty often while hiking. I get in my head a lot, LOL. Of course, I have the regrets of hurting people when I shouldn't have. But for the life choices, I am good.

    More than being sad over chances not taken, the advice I would honestly press is that "Things usually work out OK and you don't HAVE to take the ""winning"" path every time."

    We don't know that we would have been as happy as we are today if DH had gone to Apple. Maybe he would have worked too much and I would have gotten mad and found a lover (....very very unlikely, but you never know! I did stick when he worked six weeks of 36 hrs working , 9 hours sleeping over and over). He did stick when I traveled two weeks gone, two weeks home. But you can only look back and see the fork you took. You can't see what was down that other road where you took the fork. Maybe it lead to a big swamp monster!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6269 replies10 threads Senior Member
    If you are young and responsible only to yourself and contemplating a risk, there's no time like the present! It's easy to rationalize not doing it -- "I'll fall behind my peers", ,"I have so much invested in being where I am now". But the reality is those reasons will only grow over time. All of those accommodations of a degree or two ultimately may take you further away from where you want to be if you aren't paying attention!

    It's important to stay true to yourself. And it's easy to think there's plenty of time in front of you, but that may not be true.

    Can you tell I love to give unsolicited advice?
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  • fendrockfendrock 2926 replies297 threads Senior Member
    For any of you who have regrets but financially are in a good position -- there is a lot to be said for having no fear of dying in penury....
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9234 replies83 threads Senior Member
    I have a few decision regrets, but not sure any of them can be translated into general advise.

    I still like the old adage, "Always tell the truth ... then you will never have to remember what stories/lies you told to different people."
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35227 replies399 threads Senior Member
    I don't really have regrets. My mother saw trying new things and forming new memories as some protection- having good times to look back on when times got tough.

    Ok, maybe one regret is I'm not fond of where Ilive now. It's complicated.
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  • washugradwashugrad 1153 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Anything I would have changed in my career prep would probably have changed the basic makeup of my family (either not met my husband, or else met him but put off having kids longer, etc) and I wouldn't want to change anything there. So there's really no way to say I have regrets about my choice in career prep. But if I were advising someone else I might suggest at least thinking about working for a year in a professional field in between undergrad and grad school rather than going straight to grad school so that if you get partially in to your grad program and realize that you hate research you don't feel stuck.

    My oldest graduated from undergrad this past spring and I keep encouraging her to get out more and do more exploring and have fun and meet people and join the outing club and go hiking or take yoga or take a cooking class or one of many other options in her area and she's a total homebody and honestly I pretty much was, too, at her age and I remember the burden that having nearly every option of a life path open was .. almost like a paralysis of choices. It's almost easier to have very little free time and you have to pick between spending your one free night a week that isn't already allocated staying home and watching Netflix or taking Tae Kwon Do or joining the community choir but those are really the only serious options.
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  • oregon101oregon101 5609 replies137 threads Senior Member
    VH, LOL I have no regrets about most of the stuff I did do and sorta wish I had done even more of the wild stuff.
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 39674 replies471 threads Senior Member
    I regret not pivoting my career sooner - I was afraid of what could happen to me professionally if the transition would not work out. Rats. I am really enjoying what I am doing! :)
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  • wis75wis75 14269 replies64 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2019
    So many, many forks in the road. I can go back to a major decision (eg coin toss for which residency) but then I could go back one, two steps further or forward. Whenever I think about it I figure out that there are so many paths to follow and in this life I have tkaen the ones that have led to who I am, who I am with and where i am. Would my life have been better with other forks- who knows.

    Regarding chances. Some conscious decisions were made along the way, weighing pros and cons. No regrets for the probability of losing what I had even though some things given up (obscure intentionally).
    edited November 2019
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  • collage1collage1 1872 replies73 threads Senior Member
    I can think of some regrets/wonder what would have happened if I took another fork in the road but then I wouldn't have my family and my three fabulous daughters so can't really regret the choices I did make.

    I did choose to stay at home with them when the place I worked (loved) merged and became a very unpleasant place. I never went back, other than some consulting on and off -- much more off than on -- and I have some regrets about not jumping back full time somewhere else.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 33585 replies769 threads Senior Member
    Nice in theory but between student debt and skyhigh insurance costs, many of us can't afford to just take huge risks.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1195 replies3 threads Senior Member
    But many can. We have always advised our S that one of the best times to consider taking a risk is just out of college when most are single and portable. He's taken our advise to heart and I have to say he seems more at ease with risk taking than we ever were/are.
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 514 replies6 threads Member
    Like you suggest, the best advice is probably no advice. 😂

    But I would find it difficult to advise anyone based on personal regret of not doing something. How can you know how things would have worked out if you had made that choice years ago?

    In the rare instances I would advise, it is based on something that has gone well for me. For example, having a life partner that began in college has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I was advised I was too young. No. It’s been great.

    So, when a young couple may be on the fence about committing, and I clearly see a good connection, I softly encourage it without coming across as “advice.”
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  • HImomHImom 35119 replies396 threads Senior Member
    I’m happy—I really have no regrets and am glad that the forks and choices made have given me a wonderful spouse and great kids.

    Sure, things could have been great if other choices were made as well, but I only get to live my one life and it’s enough for me.

    Agree that life is much less complicated if folks tell the truth so they don’t have to remember what they’ve told different folks along the way. It would be exhausting to me to live that way.
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  • thumper1thumper1 76464 replies3379 threads Senior Member
    No regrets that are significant enough to matter.

    But I will add...on a holiday, I would never take the time to give unsolicited advice to anyone. Just not the time or the place, in my opinion.
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  • techmom99techmom99 3494 replies6 threads Senior Member
    I used to have vague regrets about having gotten ill and not graduating college in 3 years, but over time, I have come to realize that I wouldn't have met my H if I graduated early because the law school I went to, where I met him, wasn't open until the year I did graduate. I would have gone to a different school.

    I regret not traveling with my children when they were young but my H is sort of agoraphobic so it was impossible. That's about my only real regret beyond taking out 401 (k) loans for things I didn't really need.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9334 replies351 threads Senior Member
    Thanksgiving is almost here, a chance to give unsolicited advice to nieces and nephews about how to live their lives.

    If you want to create your own stockpile of regrets, spend your holidays offering unsolicited advice to the younger generation. Lol. I don't think my advice would be better than the advice they're getting from their parents, and if I go about giving unsolicited advice to my siblings' kids, they're likely to return the favor. That, I'd probably regret.
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 544 replies1 threads Member
    DH and I talked about our regrets yesterday. Probably would have changed the course of our lives traumatically.

    DH's regret (nothing he could do about it): After post doc he was approached for a professorship at Yale. It was his position to take pretty much. But he was so sick to even go for the interview. And it was a chronic disease that caused a lot of inconveniences. It was so bad at the time, he had to work from home for most of that year due to the disease. He has managed to have it under control for many years now and our lives are good. But apparently this missed opportunity is still haunting him to this day. Poor DH. I told him he would probably make a lot less being a professor at Yale.

    Mine: I was so young and naive and incredibly stupid - DH was invited to attend a Chemistry Nobel prize ceremony (btw the person that invited him, who won the chemistry prize, is now dead). I could have come along. But I didn't go b/c I didn't want my boss to be mad at me for taking a week off only after 2 weeks into the new job. My boss would have let me go. When will I ever get this opportunity again?? Probably never!
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