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Chill Out, Study Finds Career Success Can Happen At Any Age

Can we have the biggest success of our career at the tender age of 70? Yes, and a new study tells us why.

Researchers looked at the published papers of more than 10,000 scientists with 20+-year careers in physics, chemistry, economics, ecology, neuroscience, and other scientific fields. If you know anything about scientists, then you know that their overall career success highly correlates to the number of published papers they have, as well as how often these papers are cited by fellow published scientists.

But what leads to long-term success, and when is success most likely to happen? Is it just luck, is it productivity, or is it the result of a sustained impact over time?

It turns out that success is random over our lifespan, which means our best work can be theoretically attainable at age 25, or age 75! As this article explains:

The research, published on Thursday in the journal Science, found that the timing of producing high-impact papers is completely random, it means that scientists can achieve success at any point in their careers—and achieve it repeatedly—as long as they keep trying.

The findings fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which typically holds that major contributions diminish with age.

The data show that scientists tend to make major findings when they are young and their creativity level is high. Young scientists are more productive, giving them more chances to produce a major finding. However, since impact is randomly distributed over time, a scientist has an equally good chance of producing break-through work later in life -- if they keep working at it, that is. Here, watch this video.

So what might this study mean to the average humanities major shuffling papers in an office? Well, a study like this flies in the face of modern cultural-workplace wisdom that says our best work happens by age 35 and then it's all downhill from there. Randomness plays a big part in our overall success, as well as a sense of stubbornness! Professionals who find big career success in their later years simply refuse to give up and remain consistent in trying to make things happen.

So stick with what you're doing and just keep trying, because you never know what might happen someday! You could be an overnight success at age 60 after being on slow burn all these years. Besides, good things come to those who wait, right?


  1. get out of the office finally away from the stupidity and politics and wasting of so much time and the ageism and sexism and bias


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