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Millennials nearing 40 are sharing their biggest mistakes so everyone can learn from them

Here are 21 of the most powerful responses.

millennials, regrets, millennial life lessons
via Pexels

Millennials are now old enough to seriously reflect on life.

It seems like only yesterday a millennial was a college kid that baby boomers chided for being entitled and Gen Xers thought were way too sincere and needed to learn how to take a joke. Today, the oldest millennials, those born around 1980, have hit their 40s and have lived long enough to have some serious regrets.

They also have enough experience to take some pride in decisions that, in hindsight, were the right moves.

The good news is that at 40 there is still plenty of time to learn from our successes and failures to set ourselves up for a great second half of life. These lessons are also valuable to the Gen Zers coming up who can avoid the pitfalls of the older generation.

A Reddit user who has since deleted their profile asked millennials nearing 40 “what were your biggest mistakes at this point in life?” and they received more than 2,200 responses. The biggest regrets these millennials have are being flippant about their health and not saving enough money when they were younger.


They also realized that the carefree days of youth are fleeting and impossible to get back. So they should have spent less time working and more time enjoying themselves. Many also lamented that they should have taken their education more seriously in their 20s so they have more opportunities now.

The responses to this thread are bittersweet. It's tough hearing people come to grips with their regrets but the realizations are also opportunities to grow. Hopefully, some younger people will read this thread and take the advice to heart.

Here are 21 of the most powerful responses to the question: “Millennials of Reddit now nearing your 40s, what were your biggest mistakes at this point in life?”

1.

"Not taking care of my hearing, not even 35 and going deaf." — Kusanagi8811

2.

"Not getting healthy earlier." — zombiearchivist

3.

"Staying too long at a job in my 20s, just because it was safe and easy. When I finally got the motivation to leave, ended up with an almost 50% pay boost." — Hrekires

4. 

"Thinking that I could and should put myself on the back burner for anything and anyone else." — lenalilly227

5.

"Smoking and not dealing with my shit the right way." — Allenrw3

6.

"Pining after the wrong person." — runikepisteme

7.

"I turned 40 this year and just started liking who I am. Why the fuck did it take 40 years for self acceptance?" — guscallee

8.


"Take care of your fucking back. Lift with your knees. Sure it's rad when you grab a fridge by yourself and lift it in the back of a moving truck unaided, but one day that shit is going to have consequences that won't just magically go away by resting and "taking it easy" for a week." — GuyTallman

9.

"I wish I spent more time with my dad while I had the chance." — CharlieChooper

10.

"I'm 37. I absolutely could have taken better care of my body, but I'm in relatively good health. I'm starting to realize how important it is to maintain my health. I do also think I drank far too much in my 20 and early 30's. I'm trying to rectify that now, but it's hard. So that I guess." — dartastic

11.


"I'm not sure if people have experienced the same but when I entered my 30s I became convinced I was rapidly running out of time. Rather than using that as motivation I let it paralyze me with indecision because I "couldn't afford to make the wrong choice." Consequently, I'm now 39 and, though I've had great things happen in my 30s, I regret spending so much time worrying and so little time committing to a course of action." — tomwaste

12.

"Work to live, don’t live to work. You have half your working life after you turn 40 but only 20-25 years to really live it up before the responsibilities become heavy and your joints start to ache. Live life. Really LIVE it. Experience as much you can. Every sensation, sight, sound, touch. Be open. Be brave. Live your first few decades in the fast lane. You have the rest of your life to take it easy, when you have no choice." — MrDundee666

13.

"I should have paid more attention to my parents telling me to save money and less attention when they were teaching me about purity culture." — Arkie_MTB

14.

"If I could tell my 18 year old self one thing, it would be to save 10% of every paycheck I ever got." — PutAForkInHim

15.

"Thinking that I have time to do everything I want only to find myself loosing time, and the endless energy I used to have in order to purse them." — ezZiioFTW

16.

"Not wearing sunscreen." — blueboxreddress

17.

"Not recognizing the importance of work/life balance earlier in life. My late teens, all 20's, and early 30's were spent pulling 60-100+hr weeks because I thought it was what was required to succeed. How wrong I was. Others stabbed me in the back and reaped the reward.

1.) Putting work first for too long. Work is my #1 priority during work hours now. After quitting time, I don't think about it (much) anymore. I don't vent to my wife or friends about it anymore either.

2.) Investing more into fast cars than solid long-term investments. Sure, it was fun, but I could have made bookoos more had I put that towards less-fun investments.

3.) Not using PTO and just waiting for the payout. All those years, missed. I'm in my mid 30's and I didn't actually have a real vacation until 3 years ago.

4.) Not realizing that "the good guy" often loses. Just because you're morally justified doesn't mean you're going to win. Just because there's a number to call doesn't mean anyone will actually help you. Just because "law" exists, doesn't mean people follow it, enforce it, or create justice. The world is dog eat dog and cynicism can be healthy in moderate doses." — [Deleted]

18.

"When you get out of college, keep your friends. No matter how hard it is. Hold on to them." — mpssss22

19.

"I imagine these are kinda universal:

  • Not getting fit and healthy
  • Assuming I'd be offered proper guidance on how to achieve my goals
  • Assuming higher education would help me achieve my goals
  • Spending far too long caring what people think
  • Not taking risks that might better my life when I was younger and had nothing to lose
  • Staying in relationships too long after they were clearly done." — katapultperson

20.

"Always ask for more pay. Starting, yearly, before leaving, whatever. Get that money." — SensibleReply

21.

"Spending too much time in front of a screen and not enough enjoying life." — BellaPadella


This article originally appeared on 4.20.22

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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