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It’s official: feel the fear and do it anyway, say the UK’s over 50s

According to the UK’s over 50s, Mark Twain was right when he said “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do”.

The confirmation comes from new research by over 50s life insurance challenger brand FiftyLife which reveals the answer to that age-old question: is it better to regret the things you do, or the things you don’t do?

Almost two-thirds (65%) of the 2,000 over 50s surveyed said missed opportunities and risks not taken lead to more regret than doing and failing.

The revelation forms part of a wide-ranging exploration of the lessons those with a solid amount of life experience under their belts have to offer to younger generations.

As millennials prioritise seeing the world over buying a house , over a third of the over 50s surveyed wished they’d travelled more extensively, while a quarter say they wish they’d challenged themselves and taken more chances – and a similar number regret not pursuing a different career.

A further quarter of those questioned wish they’d ended a bad relationship sooner while, poignantly, more than 1 in 5 (23%) say they wished they’d told their parents they loved them while they still had time.

In terms of advice for those at the start of life’s journey, raising happy, healthy children was named as the best thing to achieve in life, cited as the number one aspiration by two thirds of participants, followed by finding a life partner (58%).

Money, careers and material things came a distant second to relationships, family and looking after your health.

Only 1 in 10 of those surveyed thought building a successful career was one of the greatest goals to aim for, while just three in ten felt money could bring happiness.

Yet mixed with the somewhat wistful tone of some of the advice given to the younger generation was some solid practical advice.

The top piece of advice respondents would give their 21-year-old self would be to start saving now for retirement.

A third of those aged over 50 wish they’d saved more for retirement and made better decisions with money, while a quarter said they were glad they’d sacrificed excess spending to save money.

In a nod to the family focus of many people’s responses, over a third of respondents said they were glad they’d sacrificed treats for themselves in order to spend more on their family.

Matthew Gledhill, Managing Director of over 50s life insurance challenger brand FiftyLife, said:

“The clear message from people in their 50s and beyond to the younger generation is to get out and seize life with both hands, taking the opportunities that arise and pursuing your dreams, even if that means making some brave choices. That said, it’s heartening to see that family is still at the heart of most people’s priorities.

“We certainly see that at FiftyLife, where the prime motivation for people taking out life insurance policies is a desire to care for their families even after they’ve gone, either by leaving them with a nest egg or help towards covering the costs of a funeral to save loved ones from stress and worry.”

FiftyLife also asked people who had found success in later life by launching their own popular blogs to share their experiences and advice for reaching goals and overcoming regrets.

Ceri Wheeldon, who runs the successful over 50 women’s lifestyle blog Fab After Fifty, doesn’t regret things she’s done, but uses them instead as opportunities to learn:

“All we can do is build on past experiences and do things in a different way in the future. It is never too late to live the life you want and be the person you are meant to be. I married the wrong person but learnt a lot about myself in the process - and made lifelong friends during that period that I would hate to not have in my life.”

David Evans is a teacher turned blogger, who launched a popular site, Grey Fox Blog, in his fifties and has this advice for those starting out:

“Follow your own path. Decide for yourself what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at and find some way of weaving those into your professional and leisure lives. I’d have liked to have had a better understanding of all the career paths open to me when I was young.”

For more lifetime lessons from Ceri, David, and fellow blogger Nikki Garnett, check out the FiftyLife website.

REVEALED: The top 10 places the over 50s long to visit:

1. New Zealand
2. Australia
3. Japan
4. USA
5. Canada
6. India
7. Rome
8. China
9. New York
10. Egypt

The best things to achieve in life, in order of importance, to over 50s
• Raising happy, healthy children
• Looking after your health
• Finding your life partner
• Being financially stable
• Being kind to others
• Getting a good work/life balance
• Building strong friendships
• Buying your home

Top 10 aspirations for today’s over 50s
• Relax and have fun
• See the children happily settled
• Retire
• Spend more time with partner
• Get fit
• Create a beautiful home
• Create a beautiful garden
• Visit somewhere I’ve always wanted to go
• Have an active sex life
• Create a beautiful home and garden

Top 5 pieces of advice over 50s would give their 21-year-old self
• Start saving for your pension now
• Don’t rush into a relationship
• Tell your loved ones how much you care while you still have the chance
• Work isn’t everything – take time for family and friends
• Don’t sweat over the small stuff


For further information, images and case study interview requests, please contact:

Rebecca McKie
Telephone: 01733 845920/07712 001670

Nina Gays
Telephone: 07561 360443

Notes to Editors

About the research

The research was carried out by 3GEM Research and Insights on behalf of FiftyLife. 2,000 UK residents aged 50+ were surveyed between 13 and 20 March 2018.

Product details

FiftyLife is a guaranteed acceptance policy designed to provide a one-off lump sum cash payment on death. Terms and conditions apply. For full details visit: or phone 0800 294 0750.
• Available to UK citizens aged 50-84
• Cover: up to GBP10,000
• Monthly payments are fixed and will never go up
• No payments after age 90
• Funeral plan option available
• Full, immediate cover for accidental death: full cover after two years
• Seven-day UK-based phone support

About FiftyLife

FiftyLife offers guaranteed low cost life insurance to the young at heart, making life insurance easier and more affordable for those aged 50-84. With no medicals or middle men it’s simple and easy to apply.

FiftyLife is backed by Covéa Life Limited and is a trading name of BISL Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.