According to a study, this is the one thing you'll most regret in life

Do you live with regret?

Woman looking serious
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While it's always best to try and live life without regrets, we've probably all got one or two, hidden right at the back of our minds.

Whether it's not going for that risky job offer, not saying something you wanted to at the time, or simply picking the wrong outfit, regrets happen regularly. Some regrets we can easily skip over, but others are harder to move past.

However, according to research conducted by psychologists at Cornell University, our biggest regret may well be something very different to the above.

Tom Gilovich, lead author of the study and a professor at the university, revealed that our biggest regret in life could be never becoming who you want to be.

He explained that not following our dreams—or not becoming 'our ideal selves'— could be a regret that sticks with us forever.

Tom explained, "When we evaluate our lives, we think about whether we’re heading toward our ideal selves, becoming the person we’d like to be."


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And if you don't? "Those are the regrets that are going to stick with you, because they are what you look at through the windshield of life."

He went on to say, "The ‘ought’ regrets are potholes on the road. Those were problems, but now they’re behind you. To be sure, there are certain failures to live up to our ‘ought’ selves that are extremely painful and can haunt a person forever; so many great works of fiction draw upon precisely that fact."

"But for most people those types of regrets are far outnumbered by the ways in which they fall short of their ideal selves."

So it looks as though not doing what you can to be the very best version of yourself could be our biggest worry in the future—which we think is a great excuse to prioritize ourselves for once. Follow your heart and your passion, because life is short and there's nothing worse than a feeling of deep regret.

Of course, everyone's biggest regrets will be different. But it seems that following our dreams and doing exactly what we want is a good bet for helping to ensure we don't have any regrets at all.

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist, currently working as Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on other women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. 


She is obsessive about everything homes and interiors—whether she's sniffing out the very best deal on a KitchenAid stand mixer or keeping up the latest Dyson release. And when she isn't editing or writing articles on interior trends or the latest home gadgets, she's passionate about books—you'll usually find her with her nose in a gripping thriller at the end of the working day.