The research found that 63 per cent of those aged over 55 have some forms of regret about their career choices – with one in ten stating that they regretted not being more ambitious in their roles and going for promotions.
The study also found a high level of praise for the “acumen” of some of the UK’s biggest and brightest entrepreneurs when faced with making decisions, highlighting Richard Branson, Sir James Dyson and Duncan Bannatyne.
“Those famous for their entrepreneurial skills are held in higher esteem,” the report said. “The study identifies the feelings of contrition related to several aspects of people’s professional lives, as well as their missed opportunities in life.”
The main thrust of the study is to highlight the new pension freedom rules allowing people the chance to spend their pots as they wish.
As a travel firm, Planet Cruise wants them to access some of their cash and swish away on luxurious holidays even before they retire.
But the findings from the study suggest that those over 55 could be doing so much more before they raid their pots and swig a glass of rum on the beaches of Barbados.
The fact that almost two-thirds of people regret their career choices is on the face of it quite dispiriting.
All those years of trudging to work in all weathers, squeezed in packed commuter trains, having terrible office tea and listening to less than interesting colleagues – and at the end you feel it was all for nothing?
That you could have done more?
The admiration for Branson and his entrepreneurial pals only doubles the frustration. If these are the people you most admire then presumably you appreciate their freedom of thought, creativity, energy, ideas and bravery.
Perhaps that could have been you.
There is no doubt that there is much more understanding and knowledge of being an entrepreneur in the UK today than one or two generations before.
We have the TV programmes such as Dragons’ Den, and even the introduction of entrepreneurial courses in schools and colleges.
Who, even those in their 30s or 40s, can remember any financial education or even business courses during their school years? Perhaps an odd go manning the tuck shop.
Read more about starting out later in life:
- StartUp Loans scheme targets older entrepreneurs
- Barclays shifts perception by rolling out apprenticeships for those over 50
- 54 year-old British woman’s vintage tea shop memorial to become online store
Youngsters today are armed with the confidence, the technology and the changing dynamics of the economy to take more of a chance and to explore whether their business idea or new creative way of thinking can work as a startup business.
In the past (and we’re only really talking 10 to 15 years ago) students coming out of college primarily saw gaining a job at a company as the first stage of their career.
They might not have thought of staying in one company for their whole career like their parents did, but certainly that their career would be centred on company work, being an employee.
But for those over 55’s it is not too late.
They should still see being an entrepreneur and setting up their own business as a real possibility and an opportunity to leave the disappointments of their career behind them.
Instead of accessing that pension pot to buy a new car or jet off abroad why not put some of it into that creative startup idea you’ve always had but never been confident enough to do.
Government, entrepreneurial and small business bodies should find ways to widen their schemes to not just appeal and attract young entrepreneurs but also those of more advanced age – the second timers if you like.
Give them the education, advice and encouragement as well.
The government want the elderly to keep working and for businesses to find older people positions, but this should be much more than donning an orange uniform and watering some plants at B&Q.
If not emboldened enough to create their own startup, then perhaps closer engagement between older workers and young entrepreneurs, perhaps business students, should be encouraged.
What ideas and experience do these older workers have that they can pass down to young creatives? Perhaps the ins and outs of working life – marketing tips, accounting tips – and things that given the chance again they would do differently.
Another issue the study raises is the possibility that there is a league of frustrated and dispirited workers in British businesses no matter what age they are. We can’t all be entrepreneurs of course, writing our resignation letters and heading off to the startup sun, but businesses should be doing much more to encourage intrapreneurs – giving staff the freedom to think innovatively within a workplace.
They will feel more valued and perhaps some of this lifetime regret will drain away.
Would you consider using your pension pot to start a business? Let us know in the comment box below.
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