At age 21, you felt as though you were on top of the world. Your angst-y teenage years had faded and become just a bad dream in the rear-view mirror. You were officially old enough to drink without the persistent fear that the police would arrest you and ruin your future job prospects. You found your groove in balancing the pressure of doing well in school, feeding your blooming social life, and managing the demands of work and seeking an internship. Life was looking up and you felt as though nothing could stop you.
At age 23, you scored your first job and felt like you were on a fast-track to the top. Your ambition propelled you through the onboarding phase and you rapidly achieved some impressive early wins. Your mind was firing on all cylinders across both the creative and analytical hemispheres, and the ideas that you thought up earned praise from peers and leaders alike. In your end-of-year reviews, you earned a nearly perfect score. The salary you commanded was more than you could have imagined earning and enabled you to afford a nice apartment, to go out with friends whenever you wanted to, and enabled your growing frequent flier status. You notched one success validation point after another. Life glowed red all around you with a brilliant hue as you took off at rocket-speed, burning hot as you rose through the atmosphere.
Then your 26th birthday arrived. You decided to leap into the unknown and start a company, but at the same time you faced a loss that knocked the air out of your lungs and left you reeling inwardly. Outwardly though, you put on your game face and doubled down on what had become the most stable and grounding part of your life: your career. The investment paid off, and your rocket ship trajectory continued on for several years.
By your 27th birthday, your body started to feel a bit more old and creaky. You made a few jokes about being a quarter century old and how that meant life was downhill from there. It was easy to laugh it off in the moment with friends, but not far down the road you actually began to wonder…