workplace regrets revealed: what mid-career professionals wish they could change

As you reach the middle point of your career, you may well find you’ve been left with a regret or two. No, we’re not talking about that time you made an embarrassing typo on the staff newsletter – or even accidentally deleting that important presentation. We’re talking about decisions made or chances missed that have directly impacted on your well-being and happiness in the workplace.

Everyone's list of regrets will be different, depending on their situation, goals and career. Here’s a list of some of the most relatable scenarios that professionals just like you are likely to cite as major regrets during the course of your work life.   

It’s time to take a good look at your own career – as well as your own happiness. It’s time to ask yourself if you can relate to any of these regrets. And if so, it’s also time to make some important changes…

big regret 1 – not following your own path

It's only natural to want to follow the advice of others. But when does listening to a good piece of advice turn into following the crowd? Is it possible that listening to the advice of others can actually throw you off course, instead of placing you on the right path?

Many professionals play it overly safe, avoiding prospects that might have brought them happiness just because they seemed a bit risky. Sound like you? If so, it’s time to change tact.

Down the road, many professionals who didn’t follow their instinct or take the occasional risk in life often realize that it might have been worth a little discomfort or financial insecurity to land that dream opportunity. This doesn’t have to mean throwing caution to the wind. Just remember to be willing to take risks every now and again - especially if it’s for something that may bring you fulfillment.

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big regret 2 – not addressing toxic situations well

Everyone runs into conflict in their personal and professional lives. But many people learn unhealthy coping mechanisms for dealing with toxic situations and people. They may choose to ignore or run away from the situation, pretending like it doesn't exist (while it still affects them), or they may deal with it in an aggressive way that's alienating and out-of-proportion with the actual offense.

One of the best steps you can take for yourself, as a professional, is to learn positive conflict resolution techniques. How this will look like will vary from situation to situation — in some cases you may need to sit down and address the conflict personally, while in others you may need to take your conflict to your boss or HR department. And in some situations avoidance may indeed be the best solution.However you choose to tackle your  problems - not addressing them at all isn’t an option if you want to avoid more stress. By not flagging the problem you run the risk of letting people persist with their toxic behavior towards you and others. By learning defusing techniques and being brave enough to stand up for what’s right - you'll soon find yourself developing a valuable skillset that can be utilized in many other areas of your life.

big regret 3 – not enough ‘me’ time

Let’s be honest – when you reach the end of your life, no one is looking back on their life and wishes they'd worked more. A career has the potential to get in the way of dating, marrying someone, having and raising children, traveling and more.

However, a career isn't the be all and end all. Take the time to explore the world fully and don't feel that you need to just focus on your career. Take vacation time: It exists for you to use it! And don't be afraid to let your boss know when you can't come in early or stay late. You're a multifaceted person, and the best route for your happiness is unlikely to just involve working.

Just as everyone's career takes a different path, everyone develops different regrets as they go along. It's almost certain you'll end up regretting something you do. But heed the advice of professionals who've come before you and you'll be far more likely to cultivate a career and a life that's truly fulfilling. 

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about the author

Eveline Kramers - Global Content Manager

Eveline does content marketing, writes stories, handles social media, and dabbles in thought leadership strategy. Prior to her current role she managed a public-private partnership and worked in global account management.