• Dr. Bill Walker

How To Avoid Your Biggest Life's Regret: Advice From 90 Year-Olds

Who would know better about avoiding life’s biggest regret than a group of 90 year-olds?

Life’s biggest regret for the majority of them centered around the same issue. It wasn’t career, money, or achievement. It was all about FAMILY.

We can learn a great lesson from these folks.


None of us will escape the end of life.

When we reach that point, it will include a time of reflection as we look back on our lives. Included in this reflection will be our life regrets.

What will be your biggest regret when your life is said and done?

More importantly, what if your main regret turns out to be something you did not consider when younger? And therefore took no action to prevent it?

Listen To Those Who Are There Now!

When a group of 90-somethings (ages 90-96) were asked what they regretted most their answer focused on one major area – family relationships. [1]

Here is their warning simply put: In the end, there will be something of far greater importance than your career, accomplishments and retirement savings.

All that will really matter will be your relationships with your loved ones.

Person after person interviewed lamented the fact that it was the lack of quality relationships with loved ones that cause the most emotional pain and regret at the end of life.

Your Relationship with Your Children Will Matter the Most

Of all the regrets, people in their 90s said the most powerful regret was a failure in their relationship with their children.

It makes sense. Is there any relationship on earth that holds greater emotional attachment than our relationship with our children? Not likely. It should be no surprise that our highest hill of happiness and deepest valley of regret are both tied to our children.

The takeaway? A poor relationship with your children NOW has the potential to be your greatest regret at the END of your life.

Your Relationship with Other Loved Ones Will Matter Second Most

According to those in their 90's, your relationship with other family members and loved ones has the potential to be the source of your second greatest regret in life.

What is it that makes our relationships so powerful in our lives?

One word – LOVE.

Love is both the cause and effect of what makes relationships such a valuable possession and experience in life. Our human relationships bind us together and allow us to intimately share a portion of a loved one’s soul – that deepest, most private, and most vulnerable part of us. Love is the substance that creates our relationships and love is the sweet fruit enjoyed as a result of them.

In the end, love is all that is left and matters.

And this is why neither career, nor possession, nor accomplishment, will ever cause us regret like broken relationships with loved ones will.


Christianly Speaking

Is it any surprise then that the One Who created this universe is summed up in this one all-powerful word?

The Bible says simply, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is not money, God is not career, God is not fame. God is love.

The Bible goes on to say, "We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

God has always loved us and always will. In doing so, He sets the example for us to model in our own relationships. By its very nature, love cannot exist outside of a relationship. Even in a one-way relationship, love must have an object - that object being another person. And the people we love most we call ‘family’.

In another place the Bible makes this great statement about love: “Now abides faith, hope, and love; these three. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 13:13)

The existence of faith and hope, no doubt, give immeasurable meaning and purpose to an often insufferable life here on this planet.

Yet, God says there is a quality that transcends even the immeasurable value of faith and hope - that quality is love.

This is why, over everything else in our lives, we are to love.

At the end of our short time here there will be nothing of a material nature left to hold on to. Only those we love and the love we have for them will matter.


The Bottom Line

DO SOMETHING NOW - before it is too late!

And understand it will never be too late until you take your last breath.

Your Children

*Are your children still living at home?

Tell them every day that you love them. Tell them often how much meaning they bring to your life. Even better - find ways to SHOW your love for them.

*Are your children grown and out of the house?

Reach out to them in a regular way. Call, text, send a card. Let them know you love them.

Did you make mistakes raising them? Sincerely apologize at some opportune point, the sooner, the better. Let them know how much their relationship means to you.

Tell them, "I don't want to reach the end of my life and have any regret about our relationship. I want to make it the best it can be. Please help me do this."

Your Other Loved Ones

*Do you have any regrets regarding current relationships with aging parents, siblings, relatives, spouses, once close friends?

Reach out! Tell them, in a conversation, a card, or letter, how much you want to make things better between the two of you.

Tell them, just as you did your grown children, "I don't want to reach the end of my life and have any regret about our relationship. I want to make it the best it can be. Please help me do this."

Then, take appropriate steps to make the changes you desire.


You and I can learn a lasting lesson - a warning, even - from people who have reached the final years of their life.

When you are through with your career and your money and your possessions – there will nothing left of meaning and value in your life but your relationships with your loved ones.

Remember this each day, and avoid your biggest regret.


#regret #children #relationships #parenting #selfimprovement