Top 5 Regrets of Retiring Federal Employees in 2023

The author shares 5 common regrets he has heard from federal employees who have recently retired.

I worked with a federal employee last year who was really excited about retirement. He had prepared well and only had 4 years left.

Then everything changed. 

Over a single weekend, his spouse was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and his oldest son died in a car accident. His plans and approach to life changed overnight.

His retirement was not going to be what he thought it would be after all, and during this time he expressed to me these 5 regrets he had about his career and life.

Top 5 Regrets

I work with a lot of retiring federal employees and I see these 5 regrets show up all the time in different forms. You may not relate to all of them, but now is the time to make the changes necessary so you can retire without them. 

Someone Else’s Dream

Regret #1: I wish I had the courage to live my dream and not just live by the expectations of others. 

We all have dreams for the life we would love to live but it is rare that those dreams coincide with the many expectations of your parents, spouse, coworkers, and friends. Consequently, many people choose to delay their dreams to a future date, but sooner or later it is simply too late.  

It takes courage to go after what you really want now before you run out of health and energy. 

Worked Too Hard?

Regret #2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 

We all need to make a living for ourselves and our families. We all need to save for retirement. But many feel the regret of missing out on key life stages (like when your kids are young or while you are fit enough to do activities you love) because they were too busy with work. 

Life is a balancing act. We all need to earn money but we have to be careful we don’t trade life’s greatest moments for just a little extra in your TSP. 

What Do I Actually Think

Regret #3: I wish I had the courage to express my true feelings. 

Everyone has an opinion about how you should live your life. They’ll tell you what to eat, what car to buy, and how to parent your kids. 

But what do you think? 

Most people regret not having the courage to stand up for themselves and how they feel about things. It takes courage to be confident in how you want to live your life despite what others may think. 

Lost Friends

Regret #4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

As we age, it becomes pretty clear that not many things are truly important. Simply put, most things don’t matter.

But one thing that does matter, especially as we age, is our relationships, and as we get busy with the hustle and bustle of life it can be easy to let friendships slip away. Putting in the energy now to keep up with those that we care about is paramount in maintaining friendships that will last a lifetime. 

The Choice of Happiness

Regret #5: I wish I had let myself be happier. 

I’ll be happy when I get that promotion, that big house, or that nice car. But I’ll truly be happy once I retire. Sound familiar? 

It is so easy to push off happiness to a distant time in the future not realizing it is so often a moving goal post. 

At some point, we all realize that happiness is a choice and will often slip through your fingers unless you are intentional about choosing happiness every day. 

About the Author

Dallen Haws is a Financial Advisor who is dedicated to helping federal employees live their best life and plan an incredible retirement. He hosts a podcast and YouTube channel all about federal benefits and retirement. You can learn more about him at Haws Federal Advisors.