Success Does Not Follow a Time Clock

We’re growing up later than we used to. We’re finishing school later, starting our careers later, even getting married and having kids later. In case you’re wondering, it’s a worldwide phenomenon that’s been studied to death. We’ve known about it for years. So what’s new?

What’s new is a study of 5 million workers over a period of decades. The economists who did the research for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that average workers see most of their earnings grow during the first 10 years of their career and begin to stagnate after age 35

But there is one big caveat: that flattening of the growth curve does not happen to higher-income earners. And therein lies the rub. Nobody has a crystal ball so you don’t know if you’re going to be an average earner or make gobs of money until after the fact.

Take my career, for example. The first decade ended with me stuck in middle management. I didn’t break through to the executive ranks until my mid-30s. That’s when all the good stuff started to happen. And my compensation was still on the rise when I retired from the corporate world and started my own business at 46.

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