Are a person’s 20’s and 30’s the most productive years?

It is really not uncommon to peg youth to energy and ambition. The younger you are, the more energy you have. In recent times, youth and specially the millennials (Those born between 1980-1995) have been associated with peaks of creativity, desirability, inventiveness, intelligence and flexibility.

People in their 20’s and 30’s are at their energy highest, Photo Credit: Huffington Post

But is it necessarily true that youth equates productivity?

Does productivity depend on energy and newness or experience and maturity?

Studies have shown that people tend to peak in their professional achievements in their middle ages even though cognitive capacities are not age bound. While our short-term memory peaks till when we are 25, our emotional intelligence peaks much later at the age of 50s.

Millennials today are said to have surpassed their predecessors in terms of success and productivity in many ways. They’ve got a spirit for adventure and an open mind. This exploratory attitude allows them to learn things faster while enjoying the learning process.

The 20 and 30 somethings are perpetually consuming information, equipping themselves with more knowledge than they need to know from multiple sources.

As a leader and as a manager it’s great to have a 20 or 30 something in your team. There is abundant energy, less hesitation to put forth new out of the box ideas and the appetite to learn new things is unbeatable. Post the 30s there comes a time when people hesitate to unlearn and re-learn.

People in their 20s are highly competitive and often work really hard to avoid failure. This ensures that they get the job done. They have just found their relatively new-found independence and are likely to work for their goals. However, they are also the people who are prone to multiple influences and inspirations with their perpetual information consumption.

Before we comprehend how productivity differs with age, especially within the age group of 20-30, we need to understand the dynamic definition of productivity.  Conventional ideas of success are being overturned by millennials, subsequently redefining productivity.

Productivity is not just about workplace success. It’s also about health, relationships, self-discovery and all in all about owning experiences.

Research has shown that work-life balance, opportunities to become leaders, meaningfulness of work influences overall perception of productivity the most. Millennials feel most productive when the work they do has some social value, some larger significance. It’s all about enriching your life than pure monetary standards and achieving these that is considered as productive.

In this way the notions of productivity are different for the age group of 20s-30s from that of the rest. However, it is clear that the potential to be productive is not.

The millennials prefer a more all-round experience from their work especially in terms of growth and value. Their sense of purpose is derived from there.

Millennials are experience driven, Photo credit: Deloitte

However, their criteria for productivity also make the process of achieving it a lot more difficult and complex. Since the overall responsibilities are still minimal it allows them to focus on themselves as they aim for personal growth and development.

The flip-side to thinking this way is the impatience and purposelessness that sets in when these needs are not met. The need for growth in this age group is also contrasted by a pervasive sense of existentialism and constant shifting of positions on what truly makes one happy and to achieve this happiness. In many ways the 20’s and 30’s ideally allow for maximum productivity only because of the nature of its definition.

Therefore, the potential for productivity is advantaged uniformly through different ages. It is what constitutes a productive life that is changing.


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