11 Things People Over 50 Wish They’d Done Differently At 25

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Call it life experience or the school of hard knocks, by 50 we all have the hindsight to know which decisions were good ones and which decisions were, well, a result of youthful naivete. But whether you’re a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason” or you wish the brains at Google would develop a time machine, you’ve probably learned a thing or two from your failures.

We’ve asked some readers what they wish they’d known at 25 that they know now. Here’s what they said every 20-something ought to know about life.

1. Speak up more.
As the saying goes, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. You are your one and only true advocate, so never be afraid to stand up for yourself and speak your mind, because regret’s a downer.

2. Know when to walk away. 

hand reaching for hand

Many readers voiced that walking away, while it may be a difficult decision, is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself. And the quicker you can come to this realization, the more you can save yourself from making up for lost time.

3. Save more money.

Retirement is no joke, as you’ll learn by 50. As you stare at the bleak reality of your 401K, you might find yourself counting every nickel and dime you wasted on frivolous expenses. So pack your lunch, find street parking (or take the bus) and remember that a penny saved is a penny earned, as cheesy as it sounds.

4. Re-think a college major.
oyster hand

A few readers mentioned how they wish they’d re-considered their career choice, or even thought twice about changing.

5. Travel more.

You’re only young once. So before you get tied down by responsibilities of a mortgage, a spouse and kids, it’s a good idea to explore the world and all it has to offer (as long as it doesn’t break the bank!). Consider working abroad. Visit the city you dream about all day. Just go somewhere that will make you look up and around rather than down at your smartphone.

6. Incur less debt.
cutting credit card

Don’t buy things you don’t need and think long and hard before getting a credit card. No matter what they tell you, it’s not free money, and no matter how high the limit, you shouldn’t go blow it all on designer duds and a fancy vacation. Debt sucks in any form. Instead, focus on building a solid credit history and credit score so you can finally nab a killer interest rate when you go sign a mortgage.

7. Wear more sunscreen.

Basking in the rays may pay off in the short run with a glistening tan, but in the long run it leads to age spots, wrinkling and sagging of the skin. So grab the SPF year-round, reach for self-tanner or just embrace your skin tone for what it is.

8. Think carefully before marriage.
cake topper

Several readers voiced they would have waited to get married. One reader said she would have waited until at least 30. While there’s no hard and fast rule everyone can apply, it’s sound advice at any age — to think carefully before you wed.

9. Slow down.

Too many of us waste precious moments because we’re too busy connected to our digital devices or on social media or worrying about the next career move. Life is short. Savor it. We think one reader put it perfectly: “I would not have been so driven to be successful and work 80 hours a week to make partner all those years. I would have lingered. I would have defined myself by more than what I did for a living.”

10. Get a better education.
college degree

As the saying goes, nobody can take your accomplishments away from you. Education is one of those accomplishments. Many readers wished they would have either gone to or stuck to tertiary education/university. Whether it’s to land you the career of your dreams, or to meet people from different walks of life or to learn to see things a little differently, education is always a good choice, whatever form it takes.

11. Consider health issues.

By 25 you might have noticed your metabolism slowing down. But looking after yourself as you age is about more than just quitting your pizza-a-day diet for vanity. It’s about creating habits (and breaking bad ones) that will lead to a long life in which you’re healthy enough to do everything you want to do. So quit smoking or cut back on the alcohol. As many of you said, little changes can lead to big benefits in the long run.

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