19 Things People Regret Wasting Time on Years Later

Regrets are one of the worst things in life. Hindsight is cruel because it forces you to look back and wish you’d done things differently. If you want to make significant changes now, here are 19 things people always regret wasting time on years later.

Repressed Emotions

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We live in an age where sharing your emotions and seeking therapy is encouraged, but many still suffer in silence. This is a massive regret among older people because of how it affected their mental health, making it harder for them to communicate and get help when they needed it.

Broken Relationships

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Many people have romantic regrets when looking back at their lives. Relationships are a huge part of who we are and often dictate how we spend our lives. Will we become parents? Will we get married? When people find true happiness, they regret wasting time on broken relationships.

Dead-End Jobs

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Forbes identifies how people often stay in dead-end jobs because they feel secure, know how to do the job, and don’t want the hassle of finding something new. However, many people seriously regret wasting time on a career with no future because of all the other things they could have been doing instead.

Unreliable Friends

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While many people regret letting good friends fade out of their lives, some people look back and wish they’d parted ways with unreliable friends sooner. Just like bad relationships, bad friendships suck happiness and energy out of your life. Nobody wants to look back and regret their unreliable friends.


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Holding grudges always hurts, which is why even the most stubborn people regret wasting time on petty grievances once they get old enough. Forgiveness is good for the mind and soul and will help you let go of the negative thoughts you associate with the past.

Fake Personas

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Putting on a fake persona is exhausting. Even if the approval you get from others feels worth it at the time, pretending to be someone you’re not is dishonest and saps your energy. Many people regret wasting time being inauthentic when they could have been working on their true selves.


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Insecurities can be soul-crushing, especially for young people, so it’s understandable to feel beaten by them. In hindsight, however, people often kick themselves for wasting time worrying about insecurities. POPSUGAR points out that when there’s nothing to be critical of, we’re our own biggest critics, so consider this next time you’re feeling insecure!

Unattainable Goals

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Setting goals is good, but trying to reach unattainable goals holds us back from achieving more realistic ambitions. Many people look back and wish they’d invested energy elsewhere, and sadly, these are some of the toughest regrets to let go.

Unfulfilling Hobbies

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Hobbies are a great way to pass the time, and there is no ‘stupid’ hobby, but spending time on anything that doesn’t fulfill you is a waste of time. Often, people partake in hobbies they feel they’re ‘supposed’ to like, but looking back, it feels like lost time.

Social Media

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Social media hasn’t been around long, yet many people still regret wasting their time on it over the last decade. A study by Carnegie Mellon University found that not only do people regret the time wasted on social media, but also the consequences of broadcasting their personal life.


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It might sound silly to regret your worries, but many people allow fear to dictate their entire lives. They don’t take opportunities, they turn down invitations, and they avoid taking risks. Sometimes, we don’t regret what we did; we regret what we didn’t do.

Societal Norms

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Society exists to dictate, but that doesn’t mean we need to listen. Some of the most heartbreaking regrets are those of people who were socially pressured to do things they didn’t want to, like have children. Making decisions based on societal norms is a bad idea–think for yourself!

Seeking Approval

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It’s normal to want praise and support, but constantly seeking approval takes time away from things that could fulfill you more. When people are older and wiser, they regret being so desperate for approval, especially if they change things about themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Unhealthy Food

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It’s nice to indulge occasionally, but plenty of people look back on their lives and wish they hadn’t cut years off their lives eating so much unhealthy food. These regrets are usually health-related because unhealthy eating can cause obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other regrettable ailments.


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Overworking is a big problem, with many sacrificing their health, relationships, and personal time. The National Wellness Institute Journal likens overworking to an addiction that feeds the ego and limits happiness. People who spend too long working mourn for lost time that, sadly, they’ll never get back.

Cell Phones

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Just like social media, cell phones are a cultural norm that we can’t live without. However, people who spend too much time on their phones often regret not being more present in the moment. While photographs are nice, memories are more meaningful, so lower your cell phone usage if you want fewer regrets later.

Drama and Gossip

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When it’s happening, discussing drama might feel exciting and fun, especially if you’re not directly involved. However, many people become regretful of gossiping later in life, realizing that the drama wasn’t worth the guilt. Life is much simpler and less toxic when everyone is kind.

Skewed Priorities

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Knowing what to prioritize is hard at the time, but looking back years later, many regret having skewed priorities and wasting time on unimportant things. Time is precious, so evaluating your priorities and focusing on what you truly want is wise.


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Finally, always remember that life is too short to spend it loathing yourself. Whether it’s bad self-esteem, a lack of confidence, or general unhappiness, self-loathing is a huge mental health threat, and many people look back and wish they’d been kinder to themselves. Your future self will be grateful if you can!

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