Thanks to all for the thoughts and insights, can't believe how many of you responded - very welcoming community!
So some more details ... I am 57, a mechanical engineer and have been wanting to fly since my early 20s. But, I was either never in a position where it was a financially prudent thing to do, or when kids were at home it would have been very selfish time-wise, or my career was consuming very large blocks of time, etc. And I knew that I had no interest in starting flying if I was not going to be in a position to fly often enough and log enough hours to be competent & safe.
My objective is to go through at least an instrument rating, and then mostly see the country on long weekend trips. My job still keeps me very busy, but the hope is that we can also take several extended weekends and fly around to interesting places and sights, spring break to Florida, etc. So a lot of cross-country stuff... seems like I will eventually want a Mooney.
I learn best in a very analytical / linear fashion, and tend to dive in and immerse myself to completely master something once it has my attention.
Putting your collective wisdom in practice, I now have my Class III medical scheduled, and assuming that goes swimmingly will then order a ground school course and begin attacking the material. And then in parallel begin the search for a CFII, under the assumption that if we can develop a good rapport, will probably continue working with that instructor over the long term.
Thanks again to all, and Happy Thanksgiving!