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VIEWPOINT: Top five career Regrets

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“Hearing about other people’s stories can help you spot seedlings of the same feelings in yourself and hopefully get you to do something to make a change today.”

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 harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain 

A recent global workforce survey revealed that 71% of people wished they had studied further, while 48% wished they had studied something totally different. Another 16% said they chose the wrong career, while 25% were still unsure about their career choice.

A Harvard Business Review article last year highlighted the challenges professionals have with careers as well as their regrets.

The top five regrets were:

  • I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.
  • I wish I had quit earlier.
  • I wish I had had the confidence to start my own business.
  • I wish I had used my time at school more productively.
  • I wish I had acted on my career hunches.

Lessons

Hearing about other people’s stories can help you spot seedlings of the same feelings in yourself and hopefully get you to do something to make a change today.

Regret gets you stuck in the past playing something over and over. Regret is a by-product of fear. Changing jobs, starting a business, and having less financial stability or new responsibilities are fears that can hold you back from taking on things you really want. These fears will lead to your own regrets. Face the fear, as most people never regret getting out of a negative situation.

Overcoming career regrets and making changes

There are several ways to cope with, and get rid of, regrets. Embrace change as it opens your mind to new ways of thinking. Examples of change are:

  • Finances: Budget, save and live within norms to take on opportunities when presented.
  • Career goals and planning: Set smarter goals and work with a career coach to achieve results.
  • Time management: Prioritise what is really important and populate your calendar accordingly.
  • Red flags: Be aware of your past experiences and have a plan to address the future.
  • Confidence: Master decision-making and trust your gut more.

No regrets

Remember, regrets about your personal life stay with you well after the ones about your career fade. Good luck with your exciting career journey and don’t regret anything you could have done something about.

Author: Stanford Payne CA(SA) is an ICF Accredited Executive and Business Coach.