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EXECUTION Starting towards the old dream at 40

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Not_That_MD

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OK, after a long time lurking and not being too active at all(to say the least), the time has come. This will be the diary of me moving towards the old dream of mine, on which I'll probably expand later. The goal is to update this thread at least twice a month with the progress, the failures and the lessons I've learned on the way, and hope it will give some perspective to others.

First, a little background: 40 years old, living in Israel, married + 2. In a dangerous place - having good job in terms of the paycheck, engagement and position. Exactly: senior software developer/architect in a company providing development services for the Hi Tech sector. Actually, many will envy what I have and ask why I'll ever try doing anything else. And I can't give straight answer except: "For me it's not enough". Good chance it's a middle age crisis, but whatever it is, for a number of years I've felt stuck, my existence a kind of a gold cage, where I can manage a good life (relative to the general population), but have no way to step outside of this so-comfort zone and try doing anything else. Too much obligations, too little free time. And, of course, more than enough excuses.

Finally, a year ago things became so intolerable that looking for a way out I've entered a local self-development guru (in a good sense, I have tons of respect for this person) funnel. This was something I never expected I will do, but there I was, spending my vacation days and hard earned money to listen to somebody talking about things I've almost forgot about. At first I was very skeptical, and some things I was looking for were absent in the program. Especially - I couldn't rely on the words of somebody who built his business on self-development to learn about conducting a business. So I started looking around... And even if the whole thing was complete FUD (and it isn't) the fact that it brought me here, after reading both @MJ DeMarco 's books, is worth everything I paid. Later I discovered other names, such as Andy Frisella and Pejman Ghadimi, which also helped me a lot in understanding exactly what I want, but these books became the first two milestones which paved the way of understanding basic business ideas to where I'm now.

I decided to move in a direction I always entertained thoughts about - build something of my own, stop being just a valuable professional. While there is nothing wrong about, it limits the reach. Things requiring solutions are not taken care of because they are not in the scope of the company I work for, things I'd like to build, but never have time for them...

Having to provide for the family and meeting the financial goals of all the liabilities we have, it's not possible to just leave everything behind, but I've suddenly discovered that taking a day off my work week is not that impossible, given my good ranking in the company. For a long time since it happened, I just consumed other people's products - buying another book, listening to another podcast... I believe, many of you know what I'm talking about. What was absent is action. Entertaining different ideas and having no decision what exactly to do is not exactly the way to advance in anything.

What helped me at the end, is talking to my wife. One day, when we were on our way home from one of the self-development course meetings, she told me: "Stop second-guessing yourself, finish at least one of your projects". And that's what decided my further course of action.

I took a need that I saw, from all the places, inside the same self-development program and started converting it into a mobile application. My reasoning was that even if I completely fail with my prognosis regarding how really this app is necessary, I will still learn a lot of things on the way that I will be able to reuse later. Also, the whole process is relatively short to getting to an MVP, so it was more straightforward for me to start that way. And, if I understand properly the guidance by @Andy Black , I'm trying to help people reusing skills I already have.

After a gruesome month when I missed a lot of sleep, I finally published the application last week on Google Play for a closed testers group consisting of other students of the same course. On the way, while talking to a personal trainer assigned to me, I discovered additional need related to the same application, from the trainer's side.

So what do I have now?
  1. Around 8% of the target group have installed the app. No uninstalls so far, but no reviews either. Will need to push it to more people and actively look for feedback.
  2. Next week I have a meeting with a number of personal trainers to understand their requirements from the app.
  3. The manager of this specific program asked me talk to him on the next meeting day about the app.
Am I optimistic? Well, not exactly, but there is a chance. I intend to make as much as I can from the situation, and if it doesn't play out, continue with the idea in another context.

And here is another thing that happened which wasn't possible for me at all previously: last Friday I visited a new liquor store in the area, it was a day when the owner provides free wine tasting. It is also the day he adds the most number of people to his promotions list. Looking at how he writes down the names and the phone numbers into a notebook, driven by looking for need, I asked him if there is no application for that. He looked at me and started to tell me about the problems he's facing with running promotions. We agreed to meet later and today this meeting has happened, it looks like I can actually help him by providing a custom-tailored solution. Something I am not going to have a lot of money from, probably not even covering the actual time I'll spend on the thing, but I see it as a great opportunity.

Next time I will have further progress details and maybe provide some technical details about developing and publishing an Android application.
 

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RazorCut

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One day, when we were on our way home from one of the self-development course meetings, she told me: "Stop second-guessing yourself, finish at least one of your projects". And that's what decided my further course of action.
Wise words. Too many people will jump from one idea to another. They get 30 or 50% down the road building something, then, when the doubts become too great, shelve the idea and move on to something else. A lot of the time it is a case of fear of failure but other times Shiny Object Syndrome raises its head.

Glad to see you are overcoming those emotions and following through. After all, regardless of the outcome, we cannot gain any meaningful data until we have something in the marketplace we can observe. Only then can we gain insight, re-adjust, improve, and move forward.

Look forward to your progress reports.
 
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NMdad

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egardless of the outcome, we cannot gain any meaningful data until we have something in the marketplace we can observe. Only then can we gain insight, re-adjust, improve, and move forward.
One way I've found to reduce analysis paralysis is to frame action as simple data collection--data that will point me toward a different action that might have a higher probability of success.
 

jmartin0283

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Thank you for sharing! I needed to read this! I am about to be 36 and I feel I am at a midlife crisis as well. Even though I don't have the same responsibilities as you do I can empathize greatly with you! I wish you nothing but success and can't wait to see your progress!
 

NMdad

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Seems the older you get, the more responsibilities you accumulate--until maybe the kids fledge the nest.

Those responsibilities just mean that you have less discretionary time than, say, a single college student or recent grad living in their parents' house.

So, the trick is to work your fastlane outside your day job & family responsibilities. 30 minutes a day, consistently can change your life.
 

404profound

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I'm also working on an app at the moment. What is your take on in-person user tests? Wouldn't those be more illustrative of the strengths and weaknesses of the current state?

I have scheduled a series of tests with testers in-person in April. That will allow me to control what information I receive from them in the pre-test and post-test conditions.
 
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Not_That_MD

Not_That_MD

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I'm also working on an app at the moment. What is your take on in-person user tests? Wouldn't those be more illustrative of the strengths and weaknesses of the current state?

I have scheduled a series of tests with testers in-person in April. That will allow me to control what information I receive from them in the pre-test and post-test conditions.
I guess nothing wrong with this approach, at least from what I know. You see, I usually work in a corporate environment, my customers are not the end users of the product. Most of the time our teams work with an UX specialist who translates the user experience into software requirements.
Take into account that my situation is very special: I currently don't have the time to do it by the book, as my deadline is in two months, when the aforementioned course ends, and my target audience is very focused one, which is a big advantage. In case I can't promote/sell the app enough during this time, I will have to pivot and approach much larger number of people. Then, I will have to pay more attention to UX optimizations.
 
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Not_That_MD

Not_That_MD

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Thank you for sharing! I needed to read this! I am about to be 36 and I feel I am at a midlife crisis as well. Even though I don't have the same responsibilities as you do I can empathize greatly with you! I wish you nothing but success and can't wait to see your progress!
Thank you!
My only regret is that I haven't started this journey earlier. Because I had this glass ceiling I built for myself (I guess most, if not all, of glass ceilings are like that - self constructed ones). And as I say to my wife and to myself - I believe that I will remember this midlife crisis as one of the best things happened in my life.
 

404profound

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I guess nothing wrong with this approach, at least from what I know. You see, I usually work in a corporate environment, my customers are not the end users of the product. Most of the time our teams work with an UX specialist who translates the user experience into software requirements.
Take into account that my situation is very special: I currently don't have the time to do it by the book, as my deadline is in two months, when the aforementioned course ends, and my target audience is very focused one, which is a big advantage. In case I can't promote/sell the app enough during this time, I will have to pivot and approach much larger number of people. Then, I will have to pay more attention to UX optimizations.
That's a good point. I am a management consultant by trade, so my methods are probably relatively inefficient, though hopefully effective.
 

Eskil

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Good for you on sticking through and not allowing yourself to lose focus, despite the challenges.

And also, those of us who are/were married with kids can all relate to the challenge of the work vs family balance. The single guys with no kids DO really have an advantage, and it took me years longer to get where I wanted to be and feel like I "caught up" to all the single dudes who had all the "free" time and money in the world to build their business. When you have a family responsibility, you can't grind 18 hour days and work all week on your Fastlane biz for obvious reasons.

But hang in there! It reminds me of the story @Kung Fu Steve tells about the two realtors. One was successful and sold 300+ houses in a year, while the other sold 6 in the same year. That guy was pissed and jealous at the successful guy and made excuses for himself like "well it's harder for me because I have 3 kids". Then he found out the successful guy actually also had 3 kids, and they both had the same opportunities in the same market.

It's just a matter of mindset + ability to balance your time!

Balancing time is the key. Not easy, but doable if your mindset is right and you want something bad enough. So keep pushing, and you can achieve incredible things.
 

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Not_That_MD

Not_That_MD

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But hang in there! It reminds me of the story @Kung Fu Steve tells about the two realtors. One was successful and sold 300+ houses in a year, while the other sold 6 in the same year. That guy was pissed and jealous at the successful guy and made excuses for himself like "well it's harder for me because I have 3 kids". Then he found out the successful guy actually also had 3 kids, and they both had the same opportunities in the same market.
It's like the story this mentor I'm learning from tells: when he started preparing for his first Ironman competition, he had always found excuses while comparing himself to other guys training with him, like "they don't have kids, they don't work as hard as I do" etc. He later found out almost all of them were married with kids with very successful (by slowlane standards) careers.
Everything is a matter of mindset and perspective, I agree.
 

Kung Fu Steve

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Good for you on sticking through and not allowing yourself to lose focus, despite the challenges.

And also, those of us who are/were married with kids can all relate to the challenge of the work vs family balance. The single guys with no kids DO really have an advantage, and it took me years longer to get where I wanted to be and feel like I "caught up" to all the single dudes who had all the "free" time and money in the world to build their business. When you have a family responsibility, you can't grind 18 hour days and work all week on your Fastlane biz for obvious reasons.

But hang in there! It reminds me of the story @Kung Fu Steve tells about the two realtors. One was successful and sold 300+ houses in a year, while the other sold 6 in the same year. That guy was pissed and jealous at the successful guy and made excuses for himself like "well it's harder for me because I have 3 kids". Then he found out the successful guy actually also had 3 kids, and they both had the same opportunities in the same market.

It's just a matter of mindset + ability to balance your time!

Balancing time is the key. Not easy, but doable if your mindset is right and you want something bad enough. So keep pushing, and you can achieve incredible things.
Brother, people on this very forum still tell me this crap.

"Steve you don't understand... I have *this* thing going on."

We ALL have our shit. Some of us worse than others... but at the end of the day there's always someone worse off than us that made it happen. They found money when there was none, they made time when it was impossible, they found love when it seemed all hope was lost, they made new connections, new friends, new lovers -- they dared to dream when everyone else is having a nightmare.

It's only a matter of time!
 

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