Imagine if you were offered a trip back in time so you can undo your biggest regret. If you could live your life all over again, what’s the one thing you would do differently? When I ask myself that question, the words shoot out of my mouth without even thinking: my educational and career choices.
It turns out I’m not alone. In the book If Only, author Neale J. Roese, Ph.D., cites a series of studies conducted by independent researchers who were interested in finding out what adults consider their biggest regrets. During the period of 1989–-2003, adults of all ages were asked the questions: If you could go back and live your life all over again, what would you do differently? What parts of your life would you change? With eleven studies in all, the researchers discovered that the following four regrets appear consistently at the top of the list, in this order, in study after study.