On 26.

When I turned 25, I was exactly where I wanted to be in life.

You see, I’m a planner. But not those cool, healthy, mentally well-adjusted ones. I’m more of a “write down your goals, tape it to your wall, and work to the point of obsession” kind of planner. I love making spreadsheets for the most inane things in life (like my churning hobby), I write through packets of 5×8 legal pads every month, and make ridiculous to-do checklists every day. Without them, I can’t function.

It all started when I graduated from Notre Dame back in 2013. With my Film, Television, and Theatre degree in hand and no real-world experience, I quickly found myself to be unemployable. No matter how hard I tried or how many interviews I took, nothing worked.

After nearly a year of unemployment and incredible frustration, I sat down on my 22nd birthday and wrote down my goals on a piece of paper. It went something like this: “By my 25th birthday, I want to be working in Silicon Valley earning six figures at a job I love. I want to travel to 3 foreign countries. And I want to be in a fulfilling relationship (for once).” Pretty generic, admittedly. But the goals became a target to strive for each day, unwavering until they were accomplished.

And by the time I turned 25, I had accomplished almost all of it. My story was even covered in the New York Times. But it left me with a question that lingered, which was, “okay now what?” I had placed so much focus and energy on this 25 goal, I never wonder what I wanted on 26, 27, and so forth.

Because at 26, I have none of the things I wanted at 25. But to my surprise, I’m happier than ever.

Since coming back from #QuarterLifeCrisisTour2016, I started my own UX Agency. And almost every single waking hour have gone towards building the company. I’m not making any money, I’m back living at home, but there’s this renewed sense of purpose. This burning desire to make great work really propels me forward every day.

Building Apical Design from scratch has bee overwhelmingly stressful. It’s really a 24/7 commitment because there’s always something that needs to be done. As a few of my friends know, I’m constantly stressed nowadays. But the high of signing our first customer was unlike anything I felt before.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to 26, since now I’m considered to be “late 20’s.” But as I found out this month, my anxieties sort of vanished with a renewed purpose – much like my 22nd birthday.

I don’t know where I’ll be when I turn 27, but I hope I can say I built Apical Design into a company I’m proud of.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes,
– Ben

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