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Don't Worry, Your Career Will Get Better


Ever worry that the peak of your career is already behind you? Don’t fret: You’ll keep having happy experiences in your professional life—moments you’ll appreciate a few years after they’ve passed.

In a survey of 1,070 men and women by Citigroup (C) and LinkedIn (LNKD), about two-thirds of the respondents, including those 55 and older, felt they had just recently experienced their happiest years at work.

“It’d be depressing to me if all age groups reported being happiest in their late 20s,” says Bryan Dik, a vocational psychologist and co-founder of the career-matching startup jobZology.com. “What it tells me is that either things get better as they go along or people are only able to remember recent events well when they make this appraisal.”

Question: Look back at your career—at what age were you happiest?2014 Today’s Professional Woman Report Question: Look back at your career—at what age were you happiest?

The results of this Today’s Professional Woman Report are not unlike those in Gallup’s “State of the American Workforce” (pdf) report last year, which show the levels of worker engagement increasing with age. Millennials were the least engaged with their work.

Expect growing pains, though. ”Developmentally, middle-career often seems to be a challenge,” says Dik. Midcareer professionals, usually in their early-to-mid 40s, “are typically taking stock and realizing they may not have achieved everything they aspired to. At the same time, they are looking ahead and wondering what they should focus on for the remainder of their career, and what kind of legacy they ultimately hope to leave.”

Flush with fond memories of recent successes, the professionals in the Citi-LinkedIn survey are persistently optimistic. Most (roughly 60 percent) believe their careers will get even better still. The average point at which workers ages 55 and older feel they will reach their peak is 62. And while even seasoned workers are sunny about their futures, that survey suggests that the best years for ambitious millennial workers are likely decades away.

Question: At what age do you think you will reach the peak of your career?2014 Today’s Professional Woman Report Question: At what age do you think you will reach the peak of your career?

Venessa-wong-190x190
Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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Companies Mentioned

  • C
    (Citigroup Inc)
    • $49.5 USD
    • -0.20
    • -0.4%
  • LNKD
    (LinkedIn Corp)
    • $179.78 USD
    • 1.78
    • 0.99%
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