It's time to stop comparing yourself to your younger, more successful peers.
Although you've probably been told you can never be too old for success, it's sometimes difficult to remember when you're feeling discouraged in your career.
But now, the theory is backed by science, which is a serious game changer.
According to a new analysis published this month in Science, a team of researchers led by Roberta Sinatra of Central European University in Budapest studied the 20-year careers of 2,856 physicists.
Their goal was to attempt to find at what age did these scientists have their "breakthrough"—a peak milestone that was a turning point in their career.
Turns out, age had very little to do with their success, but rather their individual productivity made all the difference, The New York Times reports.
Sinatra and her team explained: “[T]he highest-impact work can be, with the same probability, anywhere in the sequence of papers published by a scientist — it could be the first publication, could appear mid-career, or could be a scientist’s last publication."
"This random-impact rule holds for scientists in different disciplines, with different career lengths, working in different decades, and publishing solo or with teams and whether credit is assigned uniformly or unevenly among collaborators."
Essentially, success is a numbers game: the more we put out, the more we get back. The time in our lives when we hit peak success has little or nothing to do with that.
The study did reveal that success slightly favored youth—but this is attributed to the fact that the scientists had significantly more time to work on their careers in their 20s when compared to their 30s or 40s.
Other researchers have also found other factors that play a significant role in our success. Harvard education theorist Howard Gardner told The Washington Post that the field we choose to work in also impacts the age at which we have the most success. Careers where the work is produced in a shorter-term form (such as poetry or math) are likely to peak earlier than careers that require longer-term analysis (psychoanalysis, history, or philosophy).
So really, there are a ton of factors that contribute to our success. But the most important? That hustle.
Don't sweat it. You've still got time to be Beyoncé.