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Keeping your kids on the straight and narrow, paying off the mortgage early and remaining in a marriage for three decades have been hailed as life’s biggest achievements. Researchers examined the reflections of 1,000 people over 50 to determine the things they were most proud of achieving in their time so far.
Other life goals it was deemed ‘important’ to achieve were avoiding a criminal record, staying faithful to a partner, reaching a salary of £40,000 and becoming a parent.
The study, which was commissioned by Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK, the charity that grants magical wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions, saw being charitable and living to help other people close the top 20 but nearly half (45%) felt that they hadn’t been charitable enough in their life so far.
Amanda Williams, Director of Fundraising at Make-A-Wish, said:
“It’s a sign of the times that the top achievement is to pay off the mortgage – but it’s refreshing to see that many of the achievements revolve around improving other people’s lives, be they those of your children or partner, or helping others through charitable giving.
“Although nearly half feel that they haven’t been as charitable as they could have been, it’s never too late to help others and give back to a charity close to your heart.”
Achievements which narrowly missed the top 20 were learning a new language, volunteering for charity and driving the car you’ve always dreamt of.
Additionally, exactly half of the 1,000 over 50s studied felt they had successfully ticked off the majority of their life ‘to do’ list.
When asked to reflect honestly on their life just 14% of people felt they would be able to look back and say they contributed to a bigger, more meaningful cause.
But, despite tough financial times, one in seven is currently aiming to leave money in their will to aid a charity or good cause.
“It’s great to see that so many people over the age of 50 are already thinking about how they can continue to give to charity and leave a lasting legacy – but there are still many who don’t realise that they can leave a gift in their Will.
“Many people also don’t realise that they can provide for friends and family as well as remember a charity. Leaving just a small fraction of your estate to charity could be a significant gift, and often much more than you could afford to give during your lifetime.
“It’s a way of ensuring your good work lives on – for instance, leaving a gift to Make-A-Wish would help create magical memories for children fighting life-threatening conditions.
“Talking to our many volunteers and donors, I know that helping charities both now and in the future is something they feel very proud of. They find it tremendously fulfilling.”
Finding true love and visiting more than eight countries were among the top 20 biggest achievements.
Making time to watch the children grow up or being home from work to tuck them in occasionally was deemed an essential to any life well lived, while avoiding unemployment was seen as a massive achievement.
And keeping a clean driving licence, staying close to relatives and living as much of life as possible for other people is what counts for the nation’s silver generation.
Looking forward, one in four over 50s hopes to try and do something selfless or charitable with their remaining time.
TOP 20 BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS IN LIFE
1. Paying off the mortgage
2. Keeping kids on the straight and narrow
3. Maintaining a strong bond with your children
4. Having a marriage that lasts more than 30 years
5. Getting married
6. Staying faithful to your partner
7. Being able to support your family financially
8. Finding true love
9. Making time to watch the children grow up
10. Supporting children through university
11. Not having a criminal record
12. Maintaining a strong bond with your relatives
13. Obtaining a degree
14. Never having experienced unemployment
15. Travelling to somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
16. Being home to put the kids to bed most nights
17. Being able to afford nice holidays
18. Always having a clean driving licence
19. Being charitable
20. Living as much as you can to help other people