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When you hit age 40, you likely will be at a crucial turning point for your career, says entrepreneur Raj Setty on his blog.

Most of us enter the working world in our mid-twenties, he notes, and for the next 15 years move up the ladder, each promotion offering reassurance that progress is continuing. A series of parallel changes usually happen in our personal life, with marriage, children, mortgage, and aging parents. Experience boosts our capacity to perform, but he notes that the capacity for bold risks decreases because of what happens in our non-working life.

"Then around 40 – something happens ... The person seems [to] hit a glass ceiling. Everything seems to come to a halt. In some cases, 'work' seems monotonous and the growth is no longer in the horizon," he observes.

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The tendency is to view ourselves as victims of an external force, such as our boss or the economy. The problem is that as we move closer to the top of the hierarchy in our organizations, the number of high-stakes leadership posts are far fewer than we might have imagined. As well, the skills and accomplishments required to fill the posts should have been developed over the previous 15 years; they're not something a person can pick up overnight.

If you're young, Mr. Setty advises you to prepare now for this career turning point. If you're around 40, accept that you haven't adequately prepared and make something happen in the second half of your career that will be satisfying.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

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