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  • Writer's pictureMel

The most common career regrets

Updated: Mar 31

Just read a CNBC article with the very clickbaity title, “60% of people have this No. 1 most common career regret, says new research”:

The most common career regrets include: • Not asking for a pay increase (60%) • Not prioritizing work-life balance (59%) • Staying at a job too long (58%) • Not negotiating salary for a new job (58%)

These are all concerns I’ve heard from many people and regrets that I help people avoid. My clients have succeeded in negotiating higher pay, left jobs they’ve outgrown for something they’re excited about, and developed practices and structures that support their work-life wellbeing! 👏🏽

Diving deeper into the original report:

• More people regret staying at a job (58%) vs quitting a job (38%). • Two-thirds of Gen Z and Millennial workers regret not prioritizing work-life balance. • Career regrets peak at mid-career, with Millennials (70%) and Gen X (69%) experiencing the most regrets overall.

Oh, hi, fellow Millennials!

And yes, we all seem to regret not doing something more often than we regret doing something. It reminds me of the four categories of regret that Daniel Pink writes about in his 2022 book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, one of which is what he calls boldness regret (“the chances we didn’t take ... What haunts us is the inaction itself”).

The other three categories, by the way, are: foundation regrets (“our failure to be responsible, conscientious, or prudent”); moral regrets (“when we behave poorly, or compromise our belief in our own goodness”); and connection regrets (“fractured or unrealized relationships with spouses, partners, parents, children, siblings, friends, classmates, and colleagues”).

I talk a lot about building a life well lived and having uncomfortable but necessary conversations. Part of that involves considering these potential regrets and doing what our future selves will thank us for. It also means being bold now, being responsible now, being moral now, and being a great friend/parent/partner/leader now.

So many of my fellow Millennials are now mid- to senior-level professionals, with a lot of skills and experiences built up (and perhaps a good amount of resources too). What do you want to do with all that now?

And if you’re a bit stuck, get in touch!


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