The stages of your career, the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s

Last month we talked about using your 20’s to find out what you’re good at – what skill, unique ability or talent do you possess? Your 20’s are made for finding this out. Now let’s look at the next few steps, your 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

Your 30’s

This is the decade where the talent you have gets applied in the work force. Not so you can get paid for it so much as so you can refine it, cultivate it, develop it. This is where you do your 10,000 hours (good reads on this: Talent is Overrated and Outliers), where you work in collaboration with others, expressing and executing on your unique skills. This is the decade that requires patience and grit. Many will become parents in their 30’s and potentially get distracted, impatient or money-hungry. These temptations can reroute you from your talent. Resist. You are here to perfect yourself. It takes time. It takes work. Stay focused on getting better at your strengths.

Your 40’s

Skills and talent nicely developed (well known even) and harnessed with efficiency and predictability your 40’s is payoff time. You have now been in the workforce for nearly two decades, you have begun to “climb” the ladder (corporate or otherwise) and your skills and talents have gone public. Therefore, they have made you valuable to more than just your current employer. This intersection of experience and competitive demand is how you scale income. You have matched perfectly your ability with experience and scarcity. This creates a peak earnings opportunity. Congratulations. Wealth-building is often a matter of time-in-place matched with talent and demand. Welcome to your harvesting years, the early gray looks good on you!

Your 50’s

Time to start emptying your cup. (NOT “giving back”, not ever “giving back”.) Of course, the risk is to think it’s a decade of filling someone else’s cup, it’s not. You have an overflow of knowledge, expertise and unique ability. Spending any time on discovering and speaking into somebody else’s weaknesses – or where their cup is empty – is a misguided journey. Instead, tell your story, share your mistakes; your pearls of wisdom and your passion. Do it daily. Do it when asked. Do it when NOT asked. You are planting now. Your impact may not be seen in current time. Know that you are having a “tomorrow” impression, a generational influence. It will be others who determine when to apply what you’ve shared. That is not necessarily yours to name. That’s OK. Just lay seeds.

Now you’ll have an audience. Mainly because you have earned it but partly because you look worthy of it. You have accumulated some stuff, traveled a bit, bought a second home, bought a move-up house, drive a nice ride, whatever. People will seek the “how”. It becomes your responsibility to make sure they understand the WHY first. These are inspiring, joyful years when done right.

And if any of this is too much, less is more:

You learn what you’re good at in your 20’s, apply it in your 30’s, get paid for it in your 40’s and share it in your 50’s. That works.

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