Study: 47% Of Older Millennials Wish They Picked A Different Career Path

millennials hate jobs

Ever find yourself in a frustrating situation at work and think, “You know… I’d really like to take a mulligan on this career choice.”

Maybe it’s the stability or lack of pay. Maybe it’s a simple lack of interest in your chosen profession. Maybe it’s the dynamics of a workplace. Maybe it’s a glass ceiling that prevents you from advancing up the career ladder.

Time is money, after all. There’s an opportunity cost that comes with making a leap of faith into the unknown. There’s also an opportunity cost that comes with staying in a career lane for too long when pivoting becomes more difficult.

In a nutshell:

Wealth Gang

Millennials report career regrets

Turns out many millennials – now approaching their 40s – have serious regrets about their career choices.

Seems par for the course when 60% of millennials who earn over $100K per year claim they’re living paycheck to paycheck.

According to Harris Poll for CNBC’s Make It, nearly half of millennials polled – 47% – say they wish they had chosen a different career in their early 20s. The survey polled 1,000 U.S. adults ages 33 to 40.

The factors cited by Make It include the following:

  • Regrets about student loan debt for careers with lower earning power
  • Regrets over the career options on the other end of a four-year degree
  • Regrets taking a bigger bet on moving to another city to pursue a potentially bigger career opportunity
  • Regrets over not taking bigger career risks at a time of life when it was easier. (IE, before a mortgage and kids)
  • Regrets over picking a career that’s oversaturated

Making It Work

Interestingly enough, having career regrets doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of happiness. According to the Harris Poll, 68% of millennials report they are satisfied with their current career path. Despite some regrets, they’ve made peace with their career decisions.

That said…

Being content with your career doesn’t necessarily mean being complacent with your job…

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more Americans quit their jobs in May 2021 than any other month on record, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Makes sense, considering the tumultuous employment market during the pandemic.

But these aren’t simple low-skill jobs, either.

According to the Bureau, 700,000 workers quit jobs categorized as “professional and business services” in the month of May. This is the highest monthly number ever, according to an excellent analysis by The Atlantic, with four in 10 employees reporting that they’re considering quitting.

On the other side of the pandemic, some theorize that personal priorities – including career priorities – are just different.

Some are simply burnt out from a blurry work-life balance while working from home. Meanwhile, others have flourished under decentralization and now despise the idea of returning to an office setting.

A Bloomberg–Morning Consult survey reports that almost half of workers under 40 would consider leaving their jobs if they couldn’t work from home.


There’s a Rick and Morty quote I really:

“Time without purpose is a prison.”

Millennials currently represent over 35% of the US workforce. That number will continue climbing as baby boomers retire.

I interpret the data above as a pivotal moment for a generation: Some are looking back on their last 10-15 years in the job market with regret and thinking “something has to change”, while others are taking action towards the future.

A historic, lifestyle-changing pandemic just served as the reset button.

The reality is that millennials are lagging behind in building wealth compared to previous generations. Because wealth accumulation is so directly correlated to how one earns a living, many seem to be quitting to concentrate on the bigger picture.

Wealth Gang

Betting on yourself in the form of a business or side hustle doesn’t need to be considered a bet at all.

Just think about it as an investment.

One step backward from the familiar, three steps forward.

Wealth Gang

B. Carlisle

Contributing editor at Wealth Gang. An entrepreneur at heart, he's passionate about meaningful ways to leverage technology and social media for business opportunities and side hustles.