I worked with a guy many years ago who was extremely talented. He worked at some of the best and some of the biggest agencies and almost never failed to do pretty good work.
By the time I knew him, he was high up at an agency. So high up that he stopped doing what made him good in the first place.
He stopped putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, or nose to grindstone.
He once said to me, "I don't want to have to crack it any more."
I get a lot of Linked In requests and notes every day, every month. This is conjecture, and maybe a soupcon of egoism, but I think I get many of them because I'm pushing 60 and still doing the best work of my career--and plenty of it.
My guess is people think I have some sort of special sauce, some other-worldly good luck, or something I can help them get, too.
If I do, I'd have to say it's this: I don't want to give up cracking it. To me, it's where the pleasure (and the pleasurable pain) of the business resides.
I guess to reduce this to its most limbic, it's where the fear lives. The fear of failing. The fear of having lost it. The fear of putting yourself out there. The fear of younger, thinner models beating you out. The fear, in short, of being old.
My two cents is you have to face this fear--hit it head on with your best work, with your best self. Not some days. Every day.
Hemingway's Old Man said, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated."
I think the same might be true about careers.