Your Peak Years—Your Best Work
Your ultimate goal in life is to become your best self.
Your immediate goal is to get on the path that will lead you there.
—David Viscott, MD
What are your “peak” years? The U.S. Office of Personnel Manage-
ment suggests that a person with more than ten years of experience is at
mid-career. Other sources call mid-career a range of experience from ten
to fifteen years. Firstly, a statistical mid-career point may not equate
to your peak years. The peak years are when you have enough experience,
confidence, connections, perspective, and resources to do your best
work. Secondly, to identify our peak years, we have to define our best
Your best work equals your potential. When the work you do reflects your
potential, you have entered your peak years. This is not a time-based
formula, though it typically takes time to reach our best work. Your
best work is not limited by gender or age. It is yours and yours alone.
The peak is a culmination. An apogee of capability. A point at which
your creativity, skill, energy, and aspi- ration bring you into
alignment with your possibility. Peak years and best work are unique to
When the work you do reflects your potential, you have entered your peak
Peak years are easy to see for an athlete. Most of us reach the peak of
our physical powers at an early age and then experience the slow
diminishing of those powers. For the working professional, the inverse
is normally true. Our capabilities grow with time. Our powers increase
with experience. Our best work is only limited by our imagination,
confidence, desire, and effort.
If time and experience move us closer to our best work in our peak
years, why do so many of us struggle? We struggle with deci- sions,
expectations, adversity, clarity, direction, and fulfillment. Time may
give us the opportunity to move toward our best work, but it also sows
the seeds of doubt. Experience teaches us about pains and
disappointments. It gives us failures and the associated difficulties of
picking ourselves up when we’ve fallen. The same thing that enables us
to be our best also reminds us of our worst.
Now, at mid-career or beyond, you are asking: “Have I reached my peak?
Have I already done my best work?” Those are the wrong ques- tions.
The more important question is: “How do I do my best work in what are
now my peak years?” The great news is that you have exactly what you
need to answer that question. The journey toward your best version
continues and it’s happening right now. The path is in front of you,
and though the struggles will always be present, your best work is
waiting for you if you choose to seek it.
Now, there is one more thing to consider as you orient yourself and step
in your next direction. Your best work is measured on a sliding scale.
It is not measured by what you’ve done before. It is not measured by
what someone else is doing. The measure of your best work is relative to
this moment. Moving toward your best work reflects your attitude,
effort, and imagination today. Your peak years are happening right
now... and your best work is waiting to be realized.
You see, the ultimate measure of your best work is defined by you—
just like you determine your peak years. How is this possible? The
reality is that we are far too complex to live in only one of our
dimensions, and it is gross oversimplification to suggest that we
aren’t many things over the course of our lifetimes. Our best work as
a basketball player may have occurred at twenty-two, but we have since
chosen to do new work. Perhaps our best work as a student happened when
we were fifteen; that doesn’t mean we can’t be a better student at
fifty-five. The great news is that our best work as a nurse, teacher,
parent, artist, or friend might happen at thirty, forty, sixty, or
eighty. Only we can decide.
In this sense, you are in your peak years. Always. The joy and
satisfaction that comes with doing your best work will change as your
expectations and aspirations change. Your best work is not an absolute
nor is it a one-time event. Your best work is a collection of
ever-expanding experiences and gifts that you give to yourself and the
world around you. Whether your best work is behind you or in front of
you is a choice. Your choice.
Excerpted from "Stones Across the River:" by Phillip Berry. Copyright © 2016 by Phillip Berry. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.