Working isn’t a rat race. All the energy you’ve put into building your professional skills and career can really pay off throughout your life.
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20s: Master of your domain
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Did someone say “#winning”? By all accounts, working women in their 20s are absolutely killing it in their professional careers. According to The Economist, young women now earn 58 percent of all college degrees, which creates a foundation for success. Moreover, in her article The End of Men, author Hanna Rosin reports that women now hold 51 percent of all professional jobs in America. These accomplishments are downright huge, especially considering where women’s rights were just a generation ago.
You’ve done the work to get high-quality education and career preparation, so your 20s are the time to flaunt your success and master your professional domain. There’s so much to look forward to, and now the glass ceiling is less likely to stop you. Use your 20s to revel in the reality that the sky is the limit.
30s: Full-time fulfillment
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Although people opt to start families at different times, more and more women are postponing childbearing until their 30s. But just because you have a baby, that doesn’t mean you need to slow down your career. These days, a full 72 percent of moms bring home the bacon for their families in either part-time or full-time employment, and 40 percent are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families. Rather than wallowing in mommy guilt about taking your kids to day care while you go to work, your 30s are the time to embrace that you can be full-time and fulfilled.
In your 30s, acknowledge the ways that you really can have it all. If you have kids and you’re working outside the home, you’re less likely to experience depression, anger and sadness than your stay-at-home counterparts (not that there’s anything wrong with staying at home — these are just the facts). You’re also less likely to get divorced. Let’s hear it for the stability and fulfillment of being a working mom.
40s: Leaping with faith
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Women are well-known for excellence in multitasking, networking and getting scrappy on a grassroots level. Frankly, this is what makes us so good at raising children and bringing people together. As it turns out, these innate qualities can also make us darn good entrepreneurs. In a fascinating trend, the U.S. has seen a huge spike in women-owned small businesses (a 20.1 percent increase in less than a decade, to be exact), which are often started when professional women grow tired of stagnating in a traditional corporate environment. This trend shows no sign of slowing down, as objective reports very clearly indicate that women-owned start-ups tend to be savvier and more resilient to hardship than men-owned businesses.
Women in their 40s have often accrued so much experience, wisdom and savvy in their careers that they feel more prepared to take a leap of faith into starting their own endeavors than younger women. Use your 40s to chase the career goals that make you get out of bed in the morning. Now’s the time to step into your experience and professional power — and there’s no doubt you have the skills to do it.
50s and beyond: Reaping the fruits of a lifetime’s labor
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Women in their 50s and beyond have a way of approaching stress differently than they did when they were younger. The result? Women in the second half of their careers tend to be happier than younger women. Career stress is seen as more of a bump in the road than a disaster. Additionally, the kids are often grown and require a lot less work and management by the time women reach their 50s, so there’s more time to enjoy the pleasure of the career they’ve built for years.
By the time you reach your 50s and approach retirement age, focus on the happiness and wealth you’ve created for yourself. Rather than staying away from new challenges, use your happiness and experience to mentor younger women and build the next generation of savvy women workers.