Why would I ignore your 20’s in this post? Because your 20’s–unless you are in med school or undertaking some other highly specialized form of study–are a time for career exploration no matter what you are pursuing. How many of you ‘over 20’ are now doing something you never thought you would ever be doing? I mean, I know law school grads who never practiced a day of law. They just figured it wasn’t for them.
Taking note of accomplishments today for future promotions
Your 30’s are the greatest time for your career. Really. You should be striving while having fun and making great headway now that college or your specialized training is (most likely) behind you (sorry, medical doctors!). The 30’s are when you finally, truly commit/take a risk to do—or not—those things career-wise that you will look back from 60 and say “I wish I had done…” or “I’m glad I did…”
Your 30’s are also a time to keep a ‘running list’ of all those great things you are doing today so that you will be able to recall them when it comes time for serious negotiation for future promotion.
Your 40’s are a time of truly buckling down and making all your hard work up till now pay off. It’s the time when all of a sudden you notice that there are a bunch of 20-something’s running around with some very good ideas in their heads. You now have competition from beside and below. When did this happen?! Your 40’s are a time when you decide to keep a ‘thing or two up your sleeve’ to stave off the young ones while now focusing on knocking off the ‘old guys’ in their 50’s and 60’s. For some of you golden boys and girls your 40’s may even be a time for accessing the VP, SVP, or even the C-Suite. Good for you!
This is when that life-long list of personal best contributions achieved with your current and former employer(s) matter. You’ll be using this historical information to bolster that shot at VP.
Your 50’s are when you either go rock-solid, gang-buster’s, head-over-heels determined to make the C-Suite or settle into abject complacency. As a careers expert I have worked with far too many exceptionally talented, capable individuals who still had a lot to give to their industries and their companies. That said, I’m sorry to say guys (because it is always men), but it is my professional opinion that once you attain the corner office you all too often consider yourself indestructible. You have done the deal; you have knocked off lower caliber individuals so you are feeling that you are good for the gold watch. Then, from out of the blue, here comes the pink slip.
Professionals in their 50’s must continuously speak to their value. (I wrote a book called PROMOTE! It’s about that.) There is no question that we live in a youth-centric society but I don’t think it’s always about age discrimination. I think, all too often, it is about the lack of communicating, to those that matter (SVP’s, COO’s, CEO’s, Board of Directors), your commercial value.
To Your Success!