Take quick steps and push through to the top; that is music to the ears of real career tigers. But what if you achieved all your goals before your thirties? Is there such a thing as peaking too early?
In an ideal career, you climb one step higher and you improve your position, both in terms of function and income. But if you hit your ceiling at a very young age, there’s nothing left to gain. Best example: the top athletes who fall into a black hole at a young age.
Especially when athletes have just shined at a major tournament and have to pick up their daily lives again, existence can look empty. Athlete Dafne Schippers spoke of severe crying spells after the 2016 Games in Rio. The medal winner just sat staring straight ahead on the couch.
(Sports) psychologist Yara van Gendt often sees athletes and millennials who want to do very well, work hard and cross their own boundaries. “As a result, they often make a lot of progress in a relatively short time and experience a lot of frustration when they get to the point where they no longer make such big steps.”
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According to Van Gendt, people can handle a lot of load for a certain period of time. But when they do not take good (enough) care of themselves, their load capacity decreases and they reach a ceiling. “Continuing to do what you did often no longer works. Many people then tend to work even harder, but that often backfires. They may feel that they are being overtaken by others who may be making more stable progress more slowly.”
The (sports) psychologist, together with clients who encounter such an early peak, examines what their load consists of and what factors influence their capacity. “Together we will work to bring it more into balance. We lower the load and increase the carrying capacity.”
Different ways to peak
Nicole Edelenbos already held positions of ultimate responsibility at a young age. She was a lawyer, director and director of companies in various sectors. She became nationally known as director of various football clubs, including Feyenoord, NAC and NEC. She is also co-founder of the Eredivisie NV (now CV). “I have gained leadership experience at a very young age and learned a lot through trial and error. I have always found that a great advantage.”
Edelenbos does not believe in a single career peak. “I have made several transitions in my career and fulfilled different functions, so you could say that you can peak in different ways.” In 2015 she started Future Female Leaders, a program for young talented women who have the ambition and potential to achieve leadership positions at the top of organizations.
A peak can also mean: a position where you have influence and are listened to.
“In general, I hear that it could be a bit faster; young ambitious women in particular often want to go faster than the possibilities offered. I think employers should look carefully when someone can take the next step. signaled or even ignored. I see that happening more with women than with men.”
For the women who do reach the top early, there is a threat of an ‘interrupted’ career when they have children. But according to Edelenbos, that doesn’t have to mean a black hole either. “If you go back to work after a pregnancy, then that peak, or the next peak, will come naturally.”
Reaching the top of an organization does not have to be the only goal, according to Edelenbos. “A peak can also mean: a position where you have influence, are listened to, you feel you are making an important contribution, are appreciated and are visible.”
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