The most productive years of your life

Not so long ago I received an email from a guy who used to work for me in which he said “my resume looks good but I haven’t really found my sweet spot in the past couple of years …. you realize at 40 that the likelihood of changing industries or starting a game elsewhere is pretty unlikely so I’ll stick with the accounting industry for the next couple of years for bread-and-butter income and see where to go from there.”

I wrote a fairly lengthy response to his email that I believe would be of interest to anyone who is approaching what some people might call middle-age and who at that time have a sense that they have not realized their full potential. Here is what I said in my email to him.

In my opinion the years 40-50 are potentially the most productive of your life for several reasons:

Self confidence – been there done that failed, learned, won and survived

Good resume – i.e. good story that’s credible therefore easy to market yourself but see maturity comment below

Solid experience – skills in the quiver so to speak especially people skills

Good network of contacts – you can get traction

Maturity – reliable – this is a key because people want to see stability, it leads to good choices. Your resume shows significant success but a lot of instability – build a positive story around that because that’s what you need to address internally. This also relates to a more stable and quieter social life! One of the biggest challenges smart people have is being able to tolerate idiots and unfortunately the world is full of them.  Maturity helps with that.

Energy – in this age bracket you have enough energy to do anything

Urgency – realization that it’s time to get going

Your age gives you an opportunity to claim a position of influence which allows leverage from which results flow. This is very hard for a 21 yr old but relatively easy at 40-50. However, it gets harder after that. So you’re at the beginning of the age sweet spot right now. Don’t let it slip away.

What you really need to do is ask yourself some deep questions about why you haven’t found your sweet spot. And the answer has to be in you not to “them“!

Identify your underlying  strengths and look for opportunities to build on them?  The Gallup organization is the best in the world at this stuff. Go to their strengths center website.

I like Jim Collins’ hedgehog concept for people as well as business. When making a career choice you need to ask yourself: what are you passionate about, what can you be the best in your world at, and what will people pay you for.

As I have said to you before, you have more natural talent than you know and more than anyone I have worked with over the years.  You just need to channel it in a direction that gives you a sense of purpose. Once you do that you’ll harvest the rewards, whatever they may be.


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