I am The Product. What Is the Minimal Viable Version of My Life
In a recent meeting with my team, we were deciding what kind of graphic to launch by the next day. I suggested that we need to plan out in stages and have an MVP at the very least. If we can meet the deadline with time to progress into adding more of the following stages’ features, we should do so. However, if we do not have the time, we can be satisfied with a good minimal viable graphic.
As I ponder my path following graduation, it can be quite overwhelming to try and decide my entire fate. Fortunately, it helps me to think of my life in its own stages and levels where the minimally viable version of my life is what I can be happy with while still striving to add on all the bells and whistles of my bucket list adventures. When you design a product, it doesn’t really matter how pretty it is. If it doesn’t work to solve users’ needs, they will leave it alone if they’re nice about it. If they’re upset with it, they will delete it, write bad reviews, and campaign to make sure that no one ever uses your product.
Warning: this will get a little dark.
A lot of people regret having spent their whole life having chased the pretty, shiny version of their life without having prioritized the foundational values first and then having the time to buy a Ferrari after. A funeral is the review that others leave for your life. They give speeches, put up pictures that they think encapsulate their perception of your essence, and campaign to tell others how amazing you were and will still be in their memories. This is not to say that you should live your life for others’ opinions. It is to say that you are the user. You design this experience for you. And if you need others to think well of you at the end of it or the fear of being forgotten is a problem that you’d like to solve for, then you are in the driver’s seat for as long as autonomous vehicles haven’t taken over the world.
So, if I am designing this experience for myself, what do I need out of life?
We are products of our environment (as well as our nature). Our needs are influenced by our upbringing. I was raised in a Christian household and I personally need to feel like I was honest and a good person because that’s who Jesus is. Unlike him, I am not perfect but I always aim to improve my character which is the highest bar that I can realistically aim for.
I was also raised in a traumatic household. As a result, I need to find the peace within myself to place self-compassion above everything else, to learn to find a common ground with my grief, and to build a future for myself that is 50 X brighter than any of my past experiences.
I was also raised in an immigrant household. As a result, I need to feel like I reached my highest potential and became successful as a thank you to all of those in my community that believed in who I could be while making personal sacrifices to get me there.
Therefore, the MVP version of my life looks like a lot of introspection, therapy, academic and community achievements, and living my truth to the best of my ability. The bells and whistles of finally getting that six-pack, becoming Beyonce’s best friend, owning my Tesla Model X, and/or being a famous comedian may or may not come but I can look back on my life having lived the MVP version and feel pretty good.
What does yours look like?