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Today, I turn 27.

Years are just arbitrary markings, but if I’m not careful, they feel like deadlines.

There’s this implied question: “What have you accomplished since the last time your age changed?”

Was it enough? Did I make the most of my time?

I wrote a longer birthday post today. You can check it out, it’s called: 27 Things I’ve Learned. Every year on my birthday, I write one of these posts. I go into a bit more detail on what’s changed in the past year, but it’s been a lot.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve worked really hard. A year ago, I hired Cory as my first employee. Now there are 7 of us at seanwes. There’s a podcast network, I’ve launched 3 courses, we launched the new Community chat system and mobile app, just announced seanwes conference for next year, I spoke at conferences, we held numerous meetups across the country, I led workshops, launched new physical products, all while producing literally hundreds of podcast and videos episodes.

The amount we’ve accomplished is almost incomprehensible.

How is it possible?

Well, it’s simple math, really. The average full time job is 2,000 hours in a year. I calculated that I’ve worked 5,600 hours in the past year even accounting for sabbatical breaks where I take a week off every seventh week. It’s literally insane. Now, am I proud of that? Is it what I want? No, it’s not what I want. I learned some lessons the hard way this year.

What I learned with my first business five years ago was that I didn’t hire when I needed help. The business stagnated and I ended up selling it. I could have grown it into an asset, but I didn’t know how to scale.

The pendulum swung completely to the opposite end of the spectrum when I hired 6 people in the past year. Only a year later after getting counsel from some close friends, do I understand that I hired too fast. First, too slow, then too fast. I’m calibrating. I don’t know how to do things perfectly. I never do things perfectly the first time.

Some people think I have the Midas touch and everything turns to gold, but it’s really because I don’t ever accept failure as the conclusion.

Rarely is something perfect the first time I do it—I simply do it until it is perfect. I’m iterating in public. I’m learning as I go. I did it wrong the first time. I did it wrong again the second time, in a different way. But I’m learning and adjusting.

I hired too fast this year. Now I’m in a position where I have people and families to take care of. That has meant doing some things in a condensed timeline that’s unideal, if not just shy of impossible.

That’s why I worked 5,600 hours in a year. I had people to take care of. I learned some lessons the hard way and got my back against the wall. I had no other choice. There have been multiple times this year where we’ve been close to going out of business. A $30,000 a month payroll will deplete you really quick if you don’t know what you’re doing.

I would do things differently if I did 26 over again. I would hire slower. I’d put less pressure on myself. But I’ll never be 26 again. I’ll only be 27, and then 28, and then 29, and then 30.

In last year’s birthday post, I wrote that I worked really hard—and no doubt, I did. But this year, I truly learned what hard work looked like. I also know that it’s not something that can be sustained forever.

I learned a lot of things the hard way this year. I learned how not to do things. I also had a lot of successes. It’s been a good year.

I’ve accomplished a lot at the age of 27. I learned this year that I can accomplish a tremendous amount when I set my mind to it. It’s remarkable what you can accomplish when every second of your day is focused and concentrated on achieving your goals.

We waste so much time. We waste so much time doing nothing of substance. Nothing of lasting legacy. We live our lives like we’re going to live forever, but we’re not. I’m investing 100% of my energy into building a lasting foundation and legacy of work that is meaningful. I said that I worked hard this year, but I don’t regret that work. I’m incredibly proud of what I accomplished and what I spent my time on this year. I wasted very little time.

Looking to this next year of my life, my goal is to focus on fewer things that will have the greatest impact.

I want to pace myself. I don’t need to get three years’ worth of work done in a year. I think birthdays are an arbitrary milestone. I’d rather look at my life in five year or ten year chunks and pace myself for the big accomplishments. As one ages, a year becomes more and more like a month. If we only ever focus on month-long projects, no sizable achievement is possible.

Similarly, if we’re only measuring our lives in yearly chunks, it’s easy to feel discouraged—especially as the years become relatively shorter as we age.

This year, I made a sizable dent in my overall plans. Next year, I purpose to keep a healthy pace of continuing to make sizable dents in my goal. I will spend less time working and spend that time on the things that have the greatest impact.