Defining Your Career Path on Your Own Terms

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g.
Please enter your work email

Woman drawing on flowchart with sticky notes According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 65 is the average age American workers plan to retire. But can you imagine if someone set the bar 38 years lower?

Well, that’s exactly what entrepreneur Brenton Hayden did when he not only set a goal to retire by age 27, but he accomplished this.

According to his bylined story on Yahoo! Finance, at age 21, Hayden set a retirement savings goal of $7 million and a retirement age of 27. And just months past his 27th birthday, he transitioned into retirement with a net worth of just under $20 million.

Now, to many, this may sound crazy to even consider retiring so early. Hayden agreed, writing:

You can imagine that telling people you’re planning to retire after less than a decade of work can get you some disapproving looks. I probably couldn’t sound lazier if I tried.

He went on to say that all too often people associate retirement with trading in work for rest and relaxation, yet he refused to have that “all or nothing” mindset. Retirement for him could mean traveling to Peru one week and then working on media tours for his company the next week, he said.

And I wholeheartedly agree with him. Hayden not only defined retirement on his own terms, but his career path as well.

Although people may have deemed the notion of retiring before age 30 “lazy” Hayden did not. He decided to come up with his very own definition of retirement—one suitable for him and his goals. And he did the same thing with his career choices.

I researched Hayden a little further and it turns out that he is the CEO and founder of Renter’s Warehouse, a very successful property management company with locations throughout the U.S. After high school, unlike the traditional route, Hayden did not attend college. In fact, his only educational experiences listed are one-month entrepreneurship and real estate management programs from Harvard Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

He started working as a sales rep at Kellogg right out of high school and quickly worked his way up to territory manager. After losing his job to downsizing, the then 19-year-old Hayden switched to real estate, working for a man he deemed “the top real estate guy in town.” It was during this time that Hayden caught the entrepreneurial bug as he watched the man successfully grow his business.

It wasn’t long before Hayden ventured out on his own to open Renters Warehouse. And he even dabbled in other entrepreneurial endeavors like limousine companies, restaurants, dotcom companies and HVAC companies. He was also a radio host and producer.

Hayden has accomplished so many things in such a short time in his career and it is all because he made the decision to go against the grain. I wonder what would happen if more people followed his lead?

So often we are taught that there are only “acceptable” paths to take in life. One must graduate high school and go to college to be successful. You have to work 40+ years to be able to retire. Most new businesses fail so the better, more secure route is to work for someone else instead of becoming an entrepreneur.

To choose a path that deviates away from the norm is often considered risky, deemed a future failure and/or lazy, as in Hayden’s case.

But each person is different, so what works for one person may not be the best option for the next. To be truly successful, you must define your career path on your own terms instead of following the status quo. And if that means setting yourself up to where you can retire before the age of 30, by all means, take that route.


By Shala Marks