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INTRO I've been such a coaster, you could put me on your coffee table and it wouldn't seem out of place

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Antiseed

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Jan 23, 2020
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I crossed my 28th year on this planet at the end of last year. Every year since 21 has come with increasing anxiety that I'm not doing what I'm meant for.

I've had a comfortable life. As a kid, I was homeschooled since 1st grade -- a consequence of my parents being fed up with how the school system treated an older sibling. In retrospect, I know this was a fantastic choice for me, and my parents sacrificed a lot of their own time and energy figuring out how to give their kids the best start in life that they knew how to give, all without the money it would take to attend any traditional educational institution, and with both of them working jobs that sucked more of their time and energy away.

In my young years, I learned to like working with computers quickly. Building them, troubleshooting my own issues, tinkering. I became a "family & friends tech support" victim in short order. In my teens I installed Linux on my own PC and opened worlds of new interest in computing for myself, and started targeting a career as a sysadmin. Throughout these years I had taken both official and unofficial jobs, and did online freelance work. All very small potatoes. An opportunity to move out of state and take an apprenticeship position as a web developer for a young and really unique educational company presented itself -- a friend was offered this, decided it wasn't for him, but recommended me. I talked to their Director of IT and a couple of their experienced engineers on the phone, did a self assessment they asked me to take, and said "yes". I packed one duffel bag with my few belongings, bought an old laptop for $125 from aforementioned friend, and flew halfway across the country.

I did well in my position, made friends with everyone there, and after a couple months it quickly became apparent that I already had a lot of Linux exposure and experience, so I moved to a "DevOps" (at the time, a fairly new buzzword) role and started being truly productive after merely 2 months. Since then, a lot has changed. Poor decisions were made in company management, the original dream and value proposition that excited me was slowly undermined, and in one instance most of my coworkers even got laid off, and my boss quit. I was asked to go full time and given a raise (around 21 years old at this time). They wanted me to stay. I got comfortable, but anxiety creeped in. In the few years following, I had fun! The company's situation improved, I got better at my work, improved my processes and technology stack, bought a motorcycle. I got more comfortable, but also more anxious.

A new CTO got hired (great guy), and things looked up for the biz. I jumped headlong into whole new paradigms with the emergence of Docker and Container Orchestration, and saw myself implementing into production complex solutions I barely knew about 2 weeks prior. I got several raises in quick succession, and got more comfortable.

I met a beautiful and intelligent woman from Mexico -- an architect who also loved Linux and open source software. I'm proud to say she's my wife, and she had the fortitude and will to leave her own comfortable life and come share in mine.

Now we get to today. The company I work for was recently acquired by one of the largest educational businesses on the planet. I was identified as critical to their integration and offered a bonus equal to 1/3 my total annual salary if I would stay through the end of the year. Sounds great! Things are still moving up!

Except I don't really care. I don't believe in what I'm doing. I don't want to be here. My wife pointed out that I have big ideas and big dreams of better things -- not material acquisition, but legacies of accomplishment, product and service ideas, passions that I nonetheless haven't followed (if I had "f*ck you" money, I would execute some ideas probably considered crazy even here). She keeps me accountable, supporting me all the time even when I didn't support myself, saying things like "You have so many great ideas, it frustrates me that you won't do them!". I explain to her that I've "tried" (hah) some in the past, but I don't understand how most people keep it up. My passion sputters and my motivation runs dry. I end up feeling like everything else is more worthwhile than the thing I'm trying to do. And to overcome that desert, I look for methods of learning "discipline". But every method of learning true discipline that I've looked for seems to lead with suggestions that require discipline (or passion) to execute in the first place. It felt like a vicious cycle.

Things are different now. My wife and I listened to Unscripted (more details of that awesome experience that in my "I read Unscripted" post). I have "Why"s now. I see a roadmap now. My comfortable life feels unbearable. Entertainment no longer appeals -- and yet, I'm no longer fueled by the fleeting highs of "passion" and "excitement" either. I just know what I want, I know why I want it, and it's not an option to do anything other than get there. I'm still paying the bills, but I've become day and night obsessed with a product I first saw a need for and planned out more than 3 years ago. I've changed my identity, caught myself action-faking (and have a term for it!), confronted my biases, and kept everything on track. I'm frustrated even about writing this post, because it doesn't feel like I'm working, but I know the community values the authentic intro, and I want to respect that. My wife has been amazing, seeking her own value to add to the world on top of what she already adds to my life, and she acknowledges the goal and the process of what I'm doing.

Glad to be here, folks. Let me know if you want to know any more. I'll be around from now on.
 

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Dark Water

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As a few around here rightfully echo every so often, fastlane is a mentality, not a state of where you are currently. A lot of us work in the slow lane in one way or another, whether that's corporate, contract work, freelancing, and even through one's own business. It's all part of the bigger picture. It sounds like you're on the right path, but should start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone before cognitive dissonance pushes you to a "FTE".

Perhaps some more structure when you're not working? Dedicated time to your pursue your other endeavors prior to work? The answer has to come from within but just some thoughts to get started.
 
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Antiseed

Antiseed

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Jan 23, 2020
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As a few around here rightfully echo every so often, fastlane is a mentality, not a state of where you are currently. A lot of us work in the slow lane in one way or another, whether that's corporate, contract work, freelancing, and even through one's own business. It's all part of the bigger picture. It sounds like you're on the right path, but should start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone before cognitive dissonance pushes you to a "FTE".

Perhaps some more structure when you're not working? Dedicated time to your pursue your other endeavors prior to work? The answer has to come from within but just some thoughts to get started.
I might have been a bit unclear about what's going on currently, but I'm on a path I'm satisfied with now. I've embraced the mentality fully, and recognize that there's nothing wrong with the slowlane work while I execute on the new plan, but that's no longer part of my identity or my destination. I'm already started, completed the CENTS evaluation of my first idea, and I'm working on the hands-dirty prototyping. I have plenty of time after work every day, and all my questions have (so far) been answered.

Thank you very much for your considerate reply.
 

DomantasDr

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Jan 21, 2020
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Except I don't really care. I don't believe in what I'm doing. I don't want to be here.
And i am sure thats now gonna change, because deep inside you know this is not the right path for you. I had the same experience, money cant keep you interested in the subject, at least not for long. I 100% believe you can find the thing to do that you would enjoy doing.
 

civilizedGent

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Aug 13, 2018
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Awesome! We have very similar stories. Went straight into tech after high school by landing a desktop support job, and have moved up to devops engineer.

Right now I'm working on starting to sell web design. Will be a great additional source of income and give lots of experience with sales, marketing, copywriting, etc. which will be invaluable to any other venture I want to pursue in the future. Until I come up with a better idea, my plan is to just use the extra income to accumulate capital and get into real estate. I'm sure I'll find lots of great business ideas on the way working with my clients and meeting new people. I'm not interested in web design long term, but I think it's a great launching point and I've finally learned the most important thing is to just start doing something.

Can you share anything about your ideas or what you're working on? Totally understand if not.
 

PapaGang

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Welcome.
I've had this feeling. Sometimes I still do. I work a slowlane job, but I get up early and work a couple of hours on my project before I go to work. I made a promise to myself to work on my work before working, if that makes sense.

But I've spent months before looking to build a product or make something, with nothing to show. If you ask me, the minute things changed for me was the minute I stopped focusing on me, and started focusing on others, and not only that, actually started caring for them. Talking to them, asking questions, learning about their struggles. That's when light bulbs started going off, and that lit the fire for me. I remember the feeling of never being so happy in my life. I was a different person. I felt lighter, I had purpose! That purpose was helping people, no matter who, no matter where. That did it for me.

I believe it will for you too. Maybe you haven't encountered that big purpose yet. The desire to solve someone's big problem. You should read this incredible thread by @IceCreamKid, maybe it will help:


He had the same epiphany. That's the crazy part that was missing for me, and I haven't been the same person since I found that key truth: it's about them, not me. Reciprocation moves the world forward.

Or maybe you just need some more dopamine or something ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is a great post about hacking your reward system:


@Bekit is amazing for doing this.

I hope this helps. This community is all about help. I've learned more here in a few months than the previous two years combined, all thanks to the generosity of the members here.

BTW - Your freaking title is hilarious, one of the best I've read here.
 
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peterb0yd

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Dec 30, 2019
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Great story. I applaud you for not giving up and staying comfortable.

One small tip of advice is this: validate your product before building it.

We engineers love to build things. We have an idea for an app and can't imagine that others would not be willing to spend time using it or money to pay for it. That is, until we launch the damn thing and hear nothing but crickets.

It's happened to me.
... three times.

Now, I'm only focused on finding product-market-fit through customer discovery. Once I find a problem others are willing to pay for (i.e. they are giving me their money before I have it built), then I will build the damn thing as fast as possible (paying contractors to help out, even though I could do it all myself as a full-stack engineer).

Easier said than done, but I won't write another line of code for a product until I have pre-order money in my pockets.
 
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Antiseed

Antiseed

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I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jan 23, 2020
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Can you share anything about your ideas or what you're working on? Totally understand if not.
Sure. It's still in the realm of the web, but the most important areas are almost wholly divorced from my current skill set, which is all ops, cloud architecture, hosting and scaling, CI/CD... So I'm basically drinking from the firehose of learning full-stack web dev while I go. Throughout my life as I've engaged in various hobbies and bought some personal/big ticket (for me) items, I've done obsessive amounts of research before purchase. This includes joining communities just to ask for opinions, experiences, and especially for the explanation of things I didn't understand or wasn't at all aware of. Then, after I completed my initiation and had some knowledge (or dare I say "expertise"), I saw hordes of people after me asking all of the same -- or similar -- things. Years later, it's still happening. I'm setting out to solve this problem in a way I haven't yet seen anywhere else. I'm working on an MVP/proof of concept targeting a very specific audience and limited domain in which I'm an expert, which should help improve and validate the platform and process itself. If people love it and use it, I can expand and replicate the model to other domains easily -- at least on the technical side. I think data quality will honestly be much harder than any of the business logic.

If that doesn't pan out, I have other ideas right behind it, including some "real world"/B&M businesses that would create other things I've wished for before.
 
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Bekit

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Welcome to the forum! High-five from one homeschooler to another. :D

Throughout my life as I've engaged in various hobbies and bought some personal/big ticket (for me) items, I've done obsessive amounts of research before purchase. This includes joining communities just to ask for opinions, experiences, and especially for the explanation of things I didn't understand or wasn't at all aware of. Then, after I completed my initiation and had some knowledge (or dare I say "expertise"), I saw hordes of people after me asking all of the same -- or similar -- things. Years later, it's still happening. I'm setting out to solve this problem in a way I haven't yet seen anywhere else. I'm working on an MVP/proof of concept targeting a very specific audience and limited domain in which I'm an expert, which should help improve and validate the platform and process itself. If people love it and use it, I can expand and replicate the model to other domains easily -- at least on the technical side. I think data quality will honestly be much harder than any of the business logic.

If that doesn't pan out, I have other ideas right behind it, including some "real world"/B&M businesses that would create other things I've wished for before.
That is AWESOME!

I think almost everyone has someone in their life that they consider as "that guy who does copious amounts of research before a big-ticket purchase." I know I do. So if I'm about to buy a bicycle or some electronics gadget or the best tool for X, I just ask Jim, because he's probably got a spreadsheet on it.

But what if Jim HASN'T researched the thing I'm considering?

:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

If there was a great online resource like Jim, that would be seriously amazing.

But every method of learning true discipline that I've looked for seems to lead with suggestions that require discipline (or passion) to execute in the first place. It felt like a vicious cycle.
That is indeed a vicious cycle!
 
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OP
Antiseed

Antiseed

New Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jan 23, 2020
7
10
14
Great story. I applaud you for not giving up and staying comfortable.

One small tip of advice is this: validate your product before building it.

We engineers love to build things. We have an idea for an app and can't imagine that others would not be willing to spend time using it or money to pay for it. That is, until we launch the damn thing and hear nothing but crickets.

It's happened to me.
... three times.

Now, I'm only focused on finding product-market-fit through customer discovery. Once I find a problem others are willing to pay for (i.e. they are giving me their money before I have it built), then I will build the damn thing as fast as possible (paying contractors to help out, even though I could do it all myself as a full-stack engineer).

Easier said than done, but I won't write another line of code for a product until I have pre-order money in my pockets.
In this case, I think the only way I can validate is by building a very minimal version of it. Once I confirm that it satisfactorily solves users' needs and gets attention, then I can investigate its expansion or a toolset behind it to replicate the model quickly. The revenue model is currently a bit of a question mark, considering that if it's successful, it might very well be able to be sold as a product to other businesses, but that isn't my aim right now. Regardless of how expansive it is or whether it's sold as a product itself, the basic end-user experience will be the same, and there's nothing to pre-sell. So I have only to build an MVP and see if it meets the needs I'm targeting.

Even if it fails, the amount I have learned is already tremendous and will only become moreso. I won't consider (this one) time wasted in any case.
 

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