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A map of the ages when you peak at everything in life (infographic)

Is there a single point when we can say that we've peaked? And if so, what happens next? Is there anything more to look forward to? Or is it just a slow, inevitable slide into old-age? It sounds a bit depressing, doesn't it? Thankfully, the latest scientific research strongly suggests that life isn't about burning bright and fading away. Instead, it's an ever-changing adventure full of opportunities to grow, learn, and become the best we can be at any stage in life.

CashNetUSA used data from a range of authoritative scientific sources to map out the ages you peak at everything in life. Here's everything you've got to look forward to.

But let's start by getting some hard truths out the way. If you haven't landed your first professional sports contract by your 30s, then it's time to look for a different career. Our athletic ability peaks during our 20s and then sharply declines in our mid-30s. Olympic sprinters, baseball players, tennis champions, and swimmers are all at the height of the physical powers between the ages 20-28. But some athletes do blossom later in life. 39 is the prime age for long-distance cyclists, and research published in the journal of Gerontology states that golfers peak around 31 years of age.

When it comes to raw brainpower, 18-25 is the sweet spot. This is the age when we can process information rapidly, remember people's names without even trying, and our reaction times will never be quicker. But we don't learn how to really channel all this ability until we reach around 43, which is the age when we can concentrate most deeply. Tellingly, modern artists tend to produce their most valued paintings aged 41 and 46 is the average age for winning a Nobel Prize. Even Albert Einstein had to wait until his 42nd year before picking up the prestigious award.

Mathematicians are more likely to do groundbreaking work during their late 40s to early 50s. A study of almost 50,000 standardized IQ test results found that 45-51 is the peak age for performing mental arithmetic. That's when Sir Martin Hairer won the $3million Breakthrough Prize for mathematics. The 45-year old maths professor collected the award in 2021 for a 180-page treatise on stochastic analysis, a calculus for analyzing probability theory. The work was so profound that some of his colleagues joked it must have been transmitted to Hairer by a more intelligent alien civilization.

Careerwise, most people hit their stride during the mid-30s. 35 is when we're most productive professionally, and 39 is the perfect age for starting a second (and often more satisfying) career. And life really can begin at 40, especially if you're an aspiring business owner. 45 is the average for when successful entrepreneurs launched their first business venture. A study of 300 countries listed on the Australian Securities Exchange identified 47 as the most likely age for a CEO. And earning power for college-educated men continues to rise until they hit 55.

But there's more to life than collecting awards, picking up prizes, or earning a bumper salary. After all, what's life if we haven't got special people to share it with? In fact, some experts believe this is the secret to living a happy and fulfilling life. "Evolution seems to have tuned our nervous systems in ways that are optimal for these kinds of interpersonal and compassionate activities," writes UC Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson. "Increasingly, it appears that the meaning of late-life centers on social relationships and caring for and being cared for by others." Luckily, our emotional intelligence peaks just when we need it most. After almost a lifetime of experience, 60-year-olds are the best at managing personal relationships and appreciating the things that really matter, like spending time with family and friends. This may explain why 60 is when the average person experiences the greatest sense of life satisfaction and personal well-being.

And there are still more peaks waiting for you in your 70s. Septuagenarians might not be as beautiful or as handsome as they once were, but they don't really care. More importantly, it doesn't stop them from appreciating what they've got. Body confidence peaks in women aged 74. It takes men a little longer to truly accept themselves. A Gallup study surveyed thousands of men and found confidence in physical appearance dips during middle age before reaching its zenith aged 80.

And our vocabulary doesn't fully mature until we're 71, which means there's plenty of time to write the book you've always dreamed of. Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and Don Deliio are three writers in their 70s and 80s who continue to produce great novels.

It's important to remember that these are all averages, and there's plenty of exceptions to every rule. But it's nice to know that there’s always something new waiting for us in the future, no matter how young or old we might be.
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