Can You Do An MVP For Your Life?

I had to come to Hong Kong to go to my first Barcamp. The timing was perfect — I arrived less than a week before to run Startup Bootcamp so it was a perfect time to meet more people. And everyone in the bootcamp attended for at least part of the day.

After attending a few Barcamp talks and meeting a ton of people I gave a talk of my own, titled “Can You Do an Minimum Viable Product For Your Life?” While we spend a lot of time talking about work, there’s obviously a lot more to life than that. If anything, we talk about work so much because it’s easier than all the other things that comprise our years on earth.

Since we’re getting used to applying lean methodology to tech startups, could we do the same for ourselves? I spoke for about 10 minutes on the idea and introduced something that I did years ago as a way of validating which option I should take in a major life decision: I wrote in great detail about the decision and what it was like living with it. That process helped me understand what I really wanted and what it would be like to be in that role.

Ideas flew in the discussion. Among those talking were Jeff Smith, Andrea Livotto, Andrew Tipton, and Nic Wang (forgive me if you spoke but I don’t know your name), giving the following list of ideas that I recall (in no particular order):

  • Play dress-up (Cool idea that really needs a better name): Go somewhere outside your network and practice “being” the person you want to be. That could include telling people that you are an architect / pastry chef / chaos-theorist etc and getting used to living with that persona.
  • During a vacation, try to work temporarily as the role that you seek.
  • Try to bring elements of the job / activities / life that you want into your life in small chunks.
  • Track your happiness, productivity, usefulness throughout the day to test what you most like doing. We get so absorbed in day-to-day activities that it’s easy to lose track.

If you have other ideas or try one of the above, let me know the results.