Are We All Washed-Up After 50?
This question affects a growing number of mid-lifers who feel like a brown banana in the produce stand—well past its sell-by date. And, yet a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (2018) found that the most productive age in a human’s life is not in our 20s or 30s, but between the ages of 60 and 70.
The study confirmed that the second most productive age is between 70 and 80 and the third most productive decade is 50 to 60. What the heck? Why isn’t this front-page news? And, yet, as outlined in this Forbes article, the number of U.S. people 55 and older who are participating in the workforce is down by 2 million.
Here are a few other facts worth noting:
- The average age of a Nobel Prize winner is 62.
- The average age of a CEO in a Fortune 500 company is 63.
- The average age of the pastors of the 100 biggest churches in America is 71.
- The average age for a Pope is 76.
Corporate management has traditionally viewed productivity as “how many widgets does one person make in an hour?” Of course, this industrial model of productivity is ready for retirement as a variety of variables now need to be considered in the modern workplace. Everything from how a worker helps improve everyone around them to the quality of the widgets produced. There’s also growing evidence that older workers offer an “invisible productivity” that makes them more effective, namely their life wisdom, emotional intelligence, and ability to create psychological safety. These things matter.
And the next time someone tells you your career dreams are over at 50, remind them that our current U.S. President took 50 years to move from being a Senator to becoming the leader of the free world.
And, here’s some of my candid, funny (hopefully) thoughts on why my fifties were my favorite decade.