Complete Guide to Understanding and Preventing Career Regrets

Career Regrets | Complete Guide | Resume.com

Quick Navigation

Even after making the best choices over the course of a career, many people experience career regrets. Despite one’s best intentions, the time may come when you reassess your career path and think that you could have made different or better choices. Here are a few common career regrets along with some advice for steps you can take to prevent such regrets.

What are career regrets?

Career regrets are, like any other regrets, when you look back at your life, and in this case, your years on the job, and wish that you had done certain things differently. Every person is unique, which means that we all experience different regrets when it comes to our careers. Luckily, it is often not too late to make the necessary changes and embark on a new career journey if you are a person who is feeling the pangs of career regret.

List of common career regrets

Here are a few common regrets that people often mention when it comes to their careers:

Choosing a career for the money

Although earning a good salary has many benefits, such as being able to take good care of your family, it can also be a double-edged sword. A large percentage of people who have career regrets are actually people who are very successful financially. However, their good salaries also serve as a prison of sorts, preventing them from leaving jobs where they have poor job satisfaction and work-life balance. As these people and their families get used to a certain lifestyle and the security that comes with money, it becomes extremely challenging for them to leave a well-paying job.

Not starting a business

Another common regret that people cite is that they regret not starting their own businesses. The reasons for this are multiple, including the fact that starting your own venture is risky. Financial security, especially for those with families, as well as fear of failure, are the most common reasons why people never take the risk of starting their own business. This is the case even with powerful people like Fortune 500 CEOs.

Working too hard

It is not often that one hears people complain about the fact that they should have worked longer hours. Mostly, people regret that they worked too hard and neglected other aspects of their lives, such as their health, hobbies, friends and family. A lack of work-life balance is a major challenge in many people’s lives, as our world has become so competitive that people feel they need to work long hours before they can become successful—or perhaps they have no choice.

Not taking control of your career

Many people regret that they have not taken more initiative and control when it comes to their careers.

Examples of not taking control of your career:

  • Not asking for more money. Many people, either because they are too shy or do not value themselves enough, fail to ask for a higher starting salary or for a raise. The fact is that the worst that could have happened is that their request would have been rejected.
  • Failing to sell yourself and your abilities. As is the case with failing to ask for a higher salary, many people tend to err on the conservative side when it comes to marketing their own abilities. Although you should resist bragging, it is sometimes necessary to speak up about your abilities when it comes to things like promotions and your position in the office.
  • Failing to further your education. Many people also regret not developing their careers by participating in ongoing education and in this way boosting their career opportunities.

How to prevent career regrets

Although life happens and it is not always possible to prevent experiencing regrets at some point in one’s life, it is helpful to listen to the career regrets of other people to guide you when making career choices. When looking back at their careers, some people also advise that one should be less careful and take more risks as well as follow your instinct more often. This does not mean that you should be reckless and impulsive when making career choices. However, a calculated risk and bold action at the right time may catapult your career toward heights you did not imagine possible.

Career risks to take to prevent career regrets

Here are a few steps and risks that you may want to take when the time is right:

Trust your instinct

There may come a time in your career when you receive an offer or an opportunity that may involve risk. Perhaps you have a stable job but do not have great prospects for job growth and an acquaintance proposes that you open a branch for his company in another city. Whether you decide to consider his offer should be based on doing your homework and looking at statistics.

If the prospect seems viable but risky, let your instinct guide you. Many successful people have made risky yet wise decisions based on their instinct because not all decisions can be made by employing logic and facts exclusively.

Follow your passion

Many people base their career choices on money and security, which is completely understandable. However, many people also have poor job satisfaction because these were their only motivations when deciding on a career. If one considers the fact that people spend about one-third of their lives at work, it makes sense to spend that time doing something that you are interested in and passionate about. Chances are that if you are passionate about what you do, you will also be successful.

If you are considering taking the risk and changing your career to do something that you love, it is advisable to perhaps start with a side venture while you still have your stable job and slowly ease into it. For instance, if you want to make your living as a musician, start by playing gigs at your local pub and building up a name for yourself in your spare time until such time that it is viable to switch to this occupation in a full-time capacity.

Head out on your own

Yes, it is a risk and very scary to leave a secure job to start your own venture. But, if this is a dream of yours, it is very possible to make it as an entrepreneur. With the proper planning and plenty of hard work and dedication, you may very well make a success of your startup. If you do not take the bold step to venture out on your own, you will never know if you could have made it and may end up regretting it when you are older.

Experiencing career regrets is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can serve as the impetus for healthy change. However, if possible, one would want to make career choices that could help prevent having regrets later on in life.

If you need help writing a resume, use our data-backed resume builder.