Two in five adults feel their lives have not met their childhood expectations
00:15 GMT, 3 December 2012
As any budding astronaut will tell you, hoping to own your own home or get married seem fairly run-of-the-mill as far as childhood dreams go.
But for many of us, even those simple aspirations have failed to come true.
Two in five feel their lives have not met their childhood expectations, a survey found, with many feeling there are fewer options open to them than they had hoped for.
Run-of-the-mill: Getting married may have been a small childhood dream but for many, it has failed to come true
And a third admit their goals are hard to achieve because life is more expensive than they had realised.
Some of those say they have been ‘too busy’ balancing the demands of their work and social lives to tackle other issues.
It means many landmark events like getting married and having children now happen later in life, the study by Barclays bank found.
In fact 12 per cent of marriages, 14 per cent of childbirths and 15 per cent of first home purchases happen later than we expected when a child.
Other things that fail to materialise as early as hoped include starting a career, for 21 per cent, retiring, 26 per cent, and paying off a mortgage, 17 per cent.
But thankfully, life does get better as we age, the study of 2,185 adults shows.
Life goals: Some admit their dreams are hard to achieve because life is more expensive than they realised. Many landmark events such as having children happen later in life
While 48 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 say their lives are worse than they imagined, 26 per cent of those who have retired say things are better.
And despite our unfulfilled expectations, 33 per cent still claim life has turned out ‘differently but for the better’.
They cite greater life experiences, travelling more and meeting personal challenges as the main reasons.
Almost six in ten people – 58 per cent – say having children is key to a ‘rich life’.
This is followed by getting married, buying a home, securing a good job, and socialising with friends.
However, the average age at which we finally buy our dream home is 41.
People living in the east of England are most likely to have met or exceeded their childhood dreams, at 63 per cent.
Silver lining: Despite unfulfilled expectations, 33 per cent still claim life turned out for the better. They cite greater life experiences including travelling more
PERCENTAGE OF UK MEETING OR EXCEEDING THEIR EXPECTATIONS
Region – Percentage
East of England – 63
North West – 54
Yorkshire and Humber – 53
Northern Ireland – 53
South West – 52
Scotland – 52
South East – 50
North East – 49
East Midlands – 47
London – 47
West Midlands – 40
Wales – 40
And those living in the West Midlands are least likely, with 50 per cent saying their lives turned out for the worse.
Television presenter Kate Garraway, 45, who was involved in the research, said: ‘No matter what life stage I’ve been at, home and family have always been the foundations of a rich life.
‘For me, there’s nothing more important than spending time with my family at home.
‘What’s interesting to see is how my friends and people I know deal with things differently – because we are all different.
‘Gone are the days of living life by the book and whatever the outcome we make things work.’
Carole Layzell, from Barclays, said: ‘The research shows we are all facing dilemmas in life, such as “Can we afford to have a child”, “Can I afford to buy a home”, “When will I be able to retire”.’