Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think
Current achievements provide happiness, but the memory of past accomplishments do not appear to produce long-lasting happiness.
The waning of ability in people of high accomplishment is particularly difficult psychologically. Retired athletes struggle profoundly after their sports career ends. They are prone to depression, addiction, or suicide.
This is a professional note extracted from an online article.
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"Unhappy is he who depends on success to be happy. For such a person, the end of a successful career is the end of the line. His destiny is to die of bitterness or to search for more success in other careers and to go on living from success to success until he falls dead. In this case, there will not be life after success."
It is the idea that if you reach professional heights and are deeply invested in being high up, you can suffer greatly when you inevitably decline.
In many professions, we may reject the inevitability of decline before a very old age. But the data are clear that for most people, in most fields, decline starts earlier than expected. According to research, success and productivity increase for the first 20 years after the inception of a career. If you start a career at 30, your best work will be produced around 50, and decline after that.
Some people have managed their declines well.
When the musical career of Johann Sebastian Bach declined, instead of becoming depressed or discouraged, he chose to redesign his life, moving from composer to instructor. In his later years, he lived a quieter life as a teacher and family man.
Careers that rely on fluid intelligence tend to peak early, while those that use more crystallized intelligence peak later. Profound insights tend to come from those in their 30s and early 40s. The best explainers of complicated ideas tend to be in their mid-60s unto well into their 80s.
Many wealthy people keep on working to increase their wealth far beyond what they could possibly spend. They often do it because they get a sense of self-worth from it. However, focusing on acquisition leads to attachment and vanity, which derails the search for happiness.
Instead of acquiring more, we should strip things away. Our lives are not a canvas to fill, but more like a block of marble to chip away and shape something out of. Each year's goal should be to throw out things and obligations until a refined self is revealed.
There are two kinds of virtues:
We live a most fulfilling life, especially when we reach midlife, by pursuing virtues that are meaningful to us.
Acceptance of the natural cadence of our abilities allows the shifting of attention to higher spiritual and life priorities.
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