Study reveals why it’s harder to succeed later in life

Uh-oh. Your plan of later-life career brilliance is unlikely, according to a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The study put 917 people through a battery of psychological tests and found consistently high levels of passion, grit, and positive mindset among participants up until age 53. And then . . . well, you know what happens: The couch beckons. Specifically, all three traits fail to stay at high levels simultaneously. One or two might remain, but not all three.

“What this means is that it’s more difficult to mobilize,” says author Hermundur Sigmundsson, a psychology professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Previous research has found that positive mindset is pivotal to achievement because it melds with passion to make you believe that you will succeed.

And high levels of passion and grit are common early in life, especially in boys (see: The truck phase. The dinosaur phase. The Lego phase. etc.) Together, the two traits combine to fuel you toward success. “Our passion controls the direction of the arrow, what we’re fired up about and want to achieve. Grit drives our strength, how much effort we are willing to put in to achieve something,” says Sigmundsson.

An older person might be extremely passionate, but lacking conviction that he’ll ever be any good; or a septegenarian might maintain fire in her belly, but find her passion waning.

What to do? Absorb your missing traits from the people around you. Sigmundsson suggests that older adults should prioritize activities that they’re passionate about, and pursue connections with people who inspire and help.

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