Most people set dates for achieving thing that are important to them at that time. The preschooler sets a time for being able to ride a bicycle, for crossing the streets alone, or for being able to swim. The adult sets a time when he expects to be the foreman or manager in his work or have a specified sum of money saved.
Children and, to a lesser extent, young adolescents, think that, once they are grown up, they will have many years to achieve their important goals. As they approach adulthood, however, they become increasingly aware that the years for achievement are shorter than they originally thought. They come to realize that social attitudes toward those who show physical signs of aging are unfavorable and that they must achieve their goals before the social group places obstacles in their way.
They discover further that the social group regards the years between 20 and 40 as the critical age for achievement and that, if they have not made a reasonable success of their lives by the time they reach 40, the chances of being able to do so later grow deadline for their achievements and judge themselves as success or failures in terms of what they have achieved when they reach this deadline.
Just when a person will reach the peak of achievement- in both quality and quantity- will depend on how hard he is willing to work to gain his goal how willing he is to make the necessary sacrifices in time, effort, and personal pleasures to ensure success, and, most critical of all, the area in which he is striving to success. Unless he takes these factors is into account, to he is almost certain to fall short of his expectation and be dissatisfied with his achievements.
The age at which peak achievement is normally reached varies from one area to another; peak achievement comes earlier in sports, for example, than in engineering or the sciences. Artists, likewise, “hit their stride” earlier than scientists or people in the business or professional worlds. In every area, women tend to reach their peak achievement earlier than men- not because they are more precocious but rather because social barriers make it impossible for them to achieve as great success as men of comparable ability.