Nine out of 10 people regret rushing career choice

70 per cent of people feel more pushed for time than they did three years ago

Hazel Sheffield
Monday 09 March 2015 11:29
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Humans become ‘hyper-vigilant’ and less able to weigh up alternatives and identify priorities when they are forced to make decisions in a rush.
Humans become ‘hyper-vigilant’ and less able to weigh up alternatives and identify priorities when they are forced to make decisions in a rush.

Nearly all Britons are harbouring regrets about their career choice and blaming lack of time for mistakes.

A survey of 2010 people aged between 21-65 by the investment company Scottish Widows showed that nine out of 10 people regret rushing their career choice, while almost as many regret hurrying financial decisions (87 per cent).

On the flip side, a quarter of people in the UK feel guilty if they have spare time on their hands, while 70 per cent of people think they are more pushed for time than they were three years ago – two factors that might contribute to making rushed life choices.

David Lewis, a neuropsychologist and chairman of research at Mindlab International, said that humans become ‘hyper-vigilant’ when they are forced to make decisions in a rush. When our emotions become highly charged in this way, we are less able to weigh up alternatives and identify priorities.

“Failing to set aside time to plan important tasks and think about important life goals can lead to taking decisions which may have a long-term negative impact on your life. This can easily be avoided by investing a small amount of time regularly in considering your goals and prioritising your tasks,” Lewis said.

Younger people are more likely to combat bad time management with a to-do list. Half of those surveyed kept a to-do list, rising to 70 per cent among 26-35 year olds. The most popular time to tackle to-do lists is on a Saturday morning in the living room.

Making a list doesn’t necessarily mean tasks get completed quicker, however. The survey showed that it takes people nine weeks to get round to doing everything on their to-do list, while 44 per cent said there are tasks every day that they never get to.

A fifth of people said that social media got in the way of doing daily tasks, the same amount that blamed lack of motivation.

Lewis said that people can improve productivity by setting realistic goals and prioritising them in terms of importance and urgency. “Bear in mind that not every important task is urgent and that some urgent tasks may be of little real importance. Those tasks with the highest combination of urgency and importance should be tackled first. Those low in both can be left to last or dismissed,” Lewis said.

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