12 regrets you don’t want to have when you reach 40

Regrets are a natural and normal part of life. 

But with that in mind, we can take steps to limit the number of regrets we have in the future…

By starting now, you can change the direction of your life for the better with the following tips. Here are 12 regrets you don’t want to have when you reach 40 – are you ready? 

Of course, you are! Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so let’s jump in:

1) Staying in a job you hate

When we’re young, we take jobs we don’t necessarily like, usually to fund our fun and reckless lifestyles.

But at some point, it’s time to have a serious sit-down and think about working in a job that makes you feel fulfilled. 

Notice that I didn’t say, “A job you love.” That’s because only a few very fortunate people actually figure out what they love and then find work in that area.

The second best thing is a job that provides you with a sense of meaning and gives you the opportunity to grow!

You don’t want to hit 40 and still dread going into the office every day, so start thinking about it now. 

2) Not spending time with those you love 

I know I don’t need to remind you of this, but you’re getting older, and so is everyone else in your life, including your parents and grandparents (if you’re lucky enough to still have them around).

And while this advice isn’t only for people approaching 40, it’s still worth mentioning:

Spend time with your people. Prioritize them. Make a point to reach out as often as you can. 

Because one day, when they’re no longer around, you’ll regret those times you blew them off to work, or because you thought you had more time. 

Unfortunately, time stands still for no one! So make the most of it while you have it. 

3) Ignoring your passions 

What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? What would you do if you didn’t need to work every single day to make rent?

It’s easy to put off the things you’re passionate about right now, but when you hit 40, you may look back and regret it.

Sure, work is important. Buying a house, settling down, all of those things matter. 

But doing a little something that sparks happiness in your heart once or twice a week is just as essential! 

This is something I’m personally working on – I’ve started carving out an hour or two weekly to focus on things I enjoy, like cycling or gardening. 

I want to look back in my 40s and know I enjoyed life as much as I could. 

4) Neglecting your health 

But it’s not just your passions you shouldn’t neglect, it’s your health too…

Look, when you’re young, it’s easy to think your body will feel energetic and fit forever. But at a certain point, everything starts to slow down – especially if you don’t take care of your health. 

I’ve learned the hard way – years of sitting with a bad posture means that now, I find it hard not to walk like a 70-year-old with hunched back and shoulders. 

And it’s only going to get worse from here. 

So get out and get moving. Go to the doctor for that thing you’ve been putting off. Eat well. 

Your future 40-year-old body will thank you for it! 

5) Being unkind to yourself 

I don’t know about you, but as I get older, I realize how harsh I’ve been on myself over the years. 

Insecurity, social media, unrealistic expectations of society – they’ve all played a part in the unkind words I’ve spoken to myself. 

I’m sure you can relate.

When you hit 40, you’ll look back on your life and wonder why you too were so tough on yourself. So before it gets to that point, start working on that inner voice now. 

And while you’ll never entirely rid yourself of your inner critics, you can work on this voice until it’s a bit more forgiving, understanding, and of course, kind. 

6) Living for the rest of the world

 How many times have you decided against something, just because your mom wouldn’t approve? Or you were worried your friends would think you are weird? 

We’ve all been there. 

But as time goes on, you start to realize that you can never please everyone! 

In fact, one piece of advice I remember my elderly neighbor saying is, “Do what makes you happy. The rest of the world will continue with their opinions, but it’s yours that counts the most.” 

And she was right. In your life journey, staying true to what YOU want matters the most. The rest of the world will make space for you if you just believe in yourself and live authentically! 

7) Not taking enough risks 

Now, another regret you don’t want to wake up with on your 40th birthday is staying inside your comfort zone.

I get it, it’s a warm, cozy space where you feel safe. 

But think about it this way – what do you learn by staying cozy and safe? 

What opportunities are you missing out on as a result?

Risk-taking doesn’t come easy to everyone. So start small. Do one thing every day that makes you uncomfortable. 

I started by eating in restaurants alone and then worked my way up to solo traveling. If I could do it, you absolutely can too!

8) Wasting time on social media 

We’re all guilty of spending a bit too long scrolling – myself included. So you’re not alone there. 

And while social media can be great for some things (my entire home renovation is thanks to inspiration taken from Instagram), it can also be a black hole that sucks us in

You certainly don’t want to hit 40 and realize you’ve wasted half your life staring at a screen. 

So, as hard as it’ll be in the beginning, try setting limits. 30 minutes of scrolling, then put the phone away and spend time with real people. Get out into nature. Enjoy the company of your dog.

Just think – instead of looking at other people’s lives online, you could be investing in your own! 

9) Not traveling enough 

Who doesn’t love a good holiday? 

You get to soak in some sun and experience different cultures and food. 

Your mind opens and you realize that in this vast world, we’re all pretty similar despite our differences. 

But traveling is expensive, and it requires organization. Many people wait until they’re older to travel, only to find that life circumstances or health get in the way. 

So my message to you?

Don’t delay it. If you have to save by not going out for a few weekends in a row, so be it. 

You’ll remember that holiday for many years to come. The nights out? Not so much. 

10) Caring about what others think 

Earlier, I mentioned not living for the rest of the world. Well, this kinda goes hand in hand.

I’ll be real with you, people can be damn mean. 

From teasing at school to narcissistic bosses in the workplace, there’s always someone who’ll try to dampen your spark. 

But the quicker you learn to shut out those cruel voices, the happier you’ll be. 

And if you start working on that now, you’ll avoid having this regret at 40! 

My mom often says she wishes she’d stopped caring about what others think sooner, now in her late 50s she’s finally learned to block them out. 

Don’t leave it that late to say bye to the haters in your life! 

11) Not saving enough 

When it comes to money, we’ve all got vastly different experiences. 

But one thing is for sure – by 40, you should have a good buffer zone when it comes to your savings. 

I know in today’s world, that’s not easy. 

That’s why you need to start getting on top of your finances now – not later. 

Even if it’s just saving $50 a month, in a few years that’ll be a cushty amount that can save you in an emergency, or even put down a deposit on a home. 

Either way, you don’t want to get to 40 and be living paycheck to paycheck. That’s a stress no one wants. 

12) Having a poor work-life balance 

And finally…if you feel like you’re constantly working and never enjoying life, sort it out now and not in your 40s! 

Because let me tell you, it doesn’t get easier as time goes on. 

What you need to achieve a good work-life balance is boundaries. 

That means being upfront about the hours you dedicate to work, and the hours you give to yourself. 

I’ve had to have conversations with previous employers about not contacting me on my days off, or reducing my workload so I could actually have a life.

It’s not easy, but your future self will thank you for it! 

Especially when you hit 40 and realize you’ve got a great balance in life. A career that fulfills you and a personal life that gives you joy and happiness. 

So, now we’ve covered 12 regrets you don’t want to have when you hit the big 4 0. Don’t leave this list in your saved items until the night before your birthday, get going now! 

Only you can create a life you’re proud of with minimum regrets. 

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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