Skip to main content

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


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…