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There is widespread assumption that work gets harder after 40. But in most organizations, work gets dramatically easier after 40. The responsibilities may be heavier, but after 40 you should be valued for your experience, know-how and judgment, rather than the ability to work 18 hours every day. Most of the major rewards of success ten to accumulate after the age of 40, that is, if you do the right things before that watershed birthday. What are the right things ?

First of all, do your homework. Learn everything you need to know about your business or profession before 40. I learnt how to edit a manuscript, as well as the rudiments of publishing, in my 30s. In short, I mastered my business at the appropriate age and have simply gone on to acquire more experience since. Burning the midnight oil is okay at 20, perhaps even 30, but nobody should have to lose sleep learning something new at 40-plus.

Next, develop your own style. Before you are 40, learn what you are comfortable with, whether it is in the way you dress or simply the small touches that set you apart. You can experiment in your 20s and 30s, but establish your own style firmly by the time you are 40. No one appears more insecure than a man or woman trying to redesign his or her 'look' midcareer, You like suspenders ? Fine ! Make them your trademark. You work better with fresh flowers on your desk ? Display them every day.

Put your emotional life in order, if possible. It is a great help, when climbing toward the higher rungs of the career ladder, to be happy in life, rather to find yourself mired in emotional crises. It is hard enough to succeed without taking on personal problems that sap your energy and divert your attention. Besides, unhappiness is like a disease -- it gradually eclipses interest in everything else. Of course, all difficulties can't be avoided, and one has to rise above them; but those who have managed to put their personal lives in order by the time they are 40 are generally in better shape for success than those who have not. So, if you are going to end a hopeless entanglement or get married, do it -- before the problems drag on into the fifth decade of your life.

Know your weakness. Accept the things you don't do well, can't stand, won't do. If you are not comfortable with numbers, but enjoy creative work, don't force yourself to sit in a numbers job because it pays well or because it is what people expect. Get into the kind of work you enjoy before you are 40 or you're guaranteeing yourself an unhappy decade or two after that age -- and probably destroying your chance for real success.

Make a start at putting away your "I quit" money. Put away the first million you make. That's your "I quit" money. Nothing is so depressing as absolute dependency -- the knowledge that you can't afford to quit your job or take a risk in changing careers -- that you are stuck. Put enough away so that you have a safety net. You may never use it but sometimes the only appropriate response to a situation is, "Gentlemen, I quit !" -- and you will hate yourself if you are not in a position to say it.

Lastly learn to delegate. Many people don't -- can't do this, and are thereby condemned to remain in subordinate position. Delegation is half of success; a person who cannot delegate will find himself fatally handicapped. By the time you reach 40, you would better be an expert at it, which means you have to pick the right people and trust them.

From paragraph 1 :
  1.

(a) What is meant by the expression 'watershed birthday' ?

(b) Give one example between work before 40 and work after 40.

   

From paragraph 2 :

  2.

What is the writer's view of 'burning midnight oil' at the age of

(a) 20, and

(b) 40 ?

    From paragraph 3 :
  3.

The writer advocates that we develop our own style by the age of 40. Describe what he means by 'our own style'.

    From paragraph 4 :
  4.

Give an example to show why it is important to put our emotional life in order.

    From paragraph 6 :
  5.

(a) Explain what is meant by 'nothing is so depressing as absolute dependency.'

(b) The writer mentions about 'I quit money'.

  i. What does he mean by it ?

  ii. Why is it important to have it ?

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Answers
 

1.

(a) It means the birthday at 40, that is, the time when an important change will take place.

(b) Work before 40 is hard and long, while wok after 40 is considerably easier and more experience-based.

 

2.

(a) It is all right to work extra hard at the age of 20.

(b) It is not necessarily so at the age of 40.

 

3.

He means that we should have firmly established our own style of work and our likes or dislikes, whether in the way we dress or in the way we set up our office.

 

4.

It is to help one climb the higher rungs of the career ladder and be happy in life.

 

5.

(a) It means there is nothing so disturbing as to depend on others completely.

(b) i. He means the money which we have saved enough to support ourselves when we quit our job.

     ii. It is important to have it so that we have the option of continue working happily or quitting and still can live happily with our savings.

 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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