One-Third of Americans Regret Major Life Choices, But Many Embrace Newfound Opportunity to “Rechart” Course

Emerging Attitudes and Opinions about Living Longer, Alternative Life
Paths and the Crucial Role of Finances Revealed in New Allianz Life Study

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A sobering third (32%) of Americans say they regret the major choices
they made in their lives, such as when/where they went to school, the
profession they chose and when/where they worked. Yet many embrace the
prospect of recharting their course, an opportunity afforded by the fact
that Americans today are living longer than ever. According to The
Gift of Time
SM,* a new study from Allianz Life
Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®), more than nine in 10
Americans (93%) expressed having a favorable view of living 30 extra
years, which the Stanford Center on Longevity reports is the average
increase in life expectancy in the United States compared with 100 years
ago. In addition to positive views of a longer life, the study reveals
how longevity is making Americans rethink their major life choices, the
paths they may take and alternative possibilities for their future.

The Allianz Life study of 3,000 Americans found that optimism about
longevity extends beyond Americans’ own interests. When asked what
increased longevity means for both themselves and the human race as a
whole, nearly three-quarters said either “I think it could open a lot of
new and interesting possibilities for people’s lives” (49%) or “it’s a
wonderful development” (25%). Only 5% of respondents classified living
30 extra years as “terrifying.”

Looking for the Edge: A Desire to be Riskier, Gutsier

While most survey respondents (56%) said they would “travel extensively”
or “live in a different place” (35%) with their 30 extra years, nearly a
quarter noted they would “take more risks in life,” a common theme among
the one-third of Americans who said they regretted many of their major
life decisions. Included among those top regrets are not following their
dreams (39%), not taking risks with their career (38%) and not taking
risks with their lives in general (new jobs, going back to school, etc.)
(36%). More than a third (35%) also said they wish they’d been more
gutsy in their choices and done things they really wanted to do.

“As Americans come to terms with the fact that they’ll likely live an
extra 30 years, they have the opportunity to look back and evaluate
their past decisions and consider the newfound possibilities for the
future afforded by time,” said Allianz Life Vice President of Consumer
Insights Katie Libbe.

“While the concept of longevity is relatively new, its implications are
far-reaching and important. In addition to this study, we’re working
with Stanford University’s Center on Longevity to create more awareness
about this topic and how it impacts financial planning. It’s important
for people to understand that alternative life paths are still an
option, but they may need to adjust their financial strategy to achieve
goals that extend beyond a traditional retirement,” continued Libbe.

Alternative Paths Need Better Planning

Longevity creates opportunity and enthusiasm about alternative life
paths that differ from the traditional and linear
“school-work/marriage/kids-retirement” track that has been the de facto
life template for generations. When asked to design their ideal longer
life, nearly half (49%) of Americans said they would prefer a
nontraditional model that is unique to their interests – where they
might work, take career breaks, go back to school, volunteer and try
different things in no set order.

For many Americans, having more time opens the door to new
opportunities. Respondents confirmed a desire to explore different life
paths: pursuing a dream like starting a new business (29%), having a
second career doing something they truly enjoy (21%),
volunteering/supporting the environment (19%), or retiring later by
working fewer hours but for more years overall (16%). Nearly half (47%)
of respondents feel a longer life can enable a totally different view of
how and when major life choices are made.

While many Americans are expressing interest in embracing the
possibilities of a longer life, they also understand the need for better
planning in order to fund those different goals/life paths. More than
nine in 10 respondents (93%) agreed that people will need to be more
thoughtful about how they plan for longer lives, and the same percentage
agreed that major changes would be needed in how people think about
funding longer lives. In addition, a full 91% agreed that, with 30 extra
years, it’s not enough to just put aside money for retirement – people
would need a much clearer, more specific plan that falls outside the
confines of traditional financial planning.

“It’s encouraging that many Americans seem to understand that a new
paradigm is needed to think about, plan for and fund a longer life,”
added Libbe. “By taking short- and mid-term goals into consideration
while saving for retirement, people will have more freedom to try
different things, pursue their passions and explore alternative life

More from The Gift of Time

For more information about the study and to see examples of people
embracing longevity and choosing their own life path, visit
In the coming months, Allianz Life will release additional data from The
Gift of Time
study. Topics will include, among others:

  • Long Life and the Money Barrier – Despite embracing the concept of
    longevity, Americans are not feeling financially prepared to
    live to 100 and beyond. Concerns about money and a lack of clear
    planning remain the biggest barriers keeping people from taking risks
    and following their dreams.
  • Understanding Generational Attitudes Toward Longevity – The study
    explores how attitudes and opinions about longevity vary between
    generations, including Millennials, who stand to both gain and lose
    the most. The study shows they are the generation most overwhelmed and
    underprepared to live an additional 30 years, yet their yearning for
    freedom, adventure and travel give them a unique opportunity to change
    their paths and take advantage of longer lives.

About Allianz Life Insurance Company of North

Life Insurance Company of North America
, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best
Companies to Work For in 2016, has been keeping its promises since 1896.
Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their
retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and
life insurance products. In 2015, Allianz Life provided a total of $2.4
billion in benefit payments that supported policyholders’ financial
objectives. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life
is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services
industry with 142,000 employees in more than 70 countries worldwide.
More than 85 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz
knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most
of financial opportunities.

*The Allianz Life The Gift of Time study was conducted by Larson
Research + Strategy via online survey in March 2016 with 3,000 U.S.
adults – including 1,000 baby boomers (ages 52-70), 1,000 Gen Xers (ages
37-51), and 1,000 Millennials (ages 20-36) – with a minimum household
income of $30K+ and was commissioned by Allianz Life.


Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Jeff Faust,