Achievement in Early Adulthood: Work & Socioemotional Success

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  • 0:03 Achievement
  • 1:33 Work
  • 3:45 Socioemotional
  • 5:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

During your twenties and thirties, achievement is a major driving factor. In this lesson, we'll take a look at both career and socioemotional achievement, including what they are and factors that can lead to success in those areas.


Steve is twenty-five. A few years ago, he graduated from college and got a good job with pretty good pay. He's been working at that job for a while now, and he likes his work.

But something has been bugging him recently. He met up with some college buddies to catch up, and he found out that one of his friends is doing a lot better than he is at work. His friend has been promoted and is making big bucks. Not only that, his friend is already a manager, something that Steve really wants. Suddenly, Steve's 'good' job doesn't seem so good.

Steve is at the point between adolescence and middle age, stretching from about age twenty to about age forty, which is known as early adulthood. This time in life is filled with many changes and developments.

One area of importance in early adulthood is achievement. There are essentially two types of achievement that become particularly important in early adulthood: career achievement and socioemotional achievement. Career achievement, like what Steve is striving for, is a central focus in early adulthood because between ages twenty and forty, many people are starting their careers and rising up the corporate ladder.

Meanwhile, socioemotional achievement takes the form of long-term relationships, particularly marriage, which many people engage in during this time. Let's look closer at work and socioemotional achievement.


Remember Steve? He is at the beginning of his career. He's only been out in the workforce for a few years since he graduated college. Already, his friends are getting promotions, and he's feeling left behind.

Early adults are at the beginning of their careers, relative to adults in middle age or around retirement. During this time, many people work hard. Often, people in their twenties and thirties work longer hours than they ever will at any other time in their careers. Their career is a major part of their lives due to all the time spent at work.

Achievement in work usually takes the form of promotions, and these occur more frequently during early adulthood than at any other period during a person's career. For example, between ages twenty and forty, Steve might have several promotions as he moves from one level to the next in his career. By the time he is forty and middle age begins, he is probably going to be more settled in his career, and it is likely that the promotions will be fewer and further between.

There are several factors that can impact success at work. Finding a good mentor is one of them. For example, Steve can talk to a manager in his company and explain that he would like to be mentored. A mentor offers advice about how to succeed. Usually, a mentor is someone with whom you have a rapport and also someone who has a position that you aspire to have.

Other factors that impact success are work ethic and social skills. If Steve shows up late and leaves early regularly, he is likely not going to get a promotion. But showing up every day and demonstrating that he is willing to work hard will make others want to promote him. Further, if Steve's social skills aren't up to snuff (say, he is rude to his customers or to his boss), then he's likely not going to be promoted.

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