Okay, so it's been about 5 months since I passed the Written test (for the 2nd time) and THIS TIME I'm going to take my first attempt at the lab before the 18 months elapses and the eligibility for the lab expires.
I'm out of excuses. Or at least, I'm tired of them. After a year of not smoking, I'm finally used to it (a bit) - or at least I'm used to being a miserable ex-smoker now. Yes, I will be taking a vacation this summer, but I really can't afford to wait until that's over to start up again. Sure, I'm concerned that I'll start studying and then it'll all be forgotten at Disney... But I can see this is going to be a slow start - so I better start now.
My lab at work is still half-baked. Most of the LAN connections are up, but the frame-relay switch has not been connected yet. I'm not sure how many devices actually have the "initial" configs or still need to be wiped and reconfigured. There's still much work to be done before it's ready for working a full-blown lab. I've worked some of the switching labs, but that was a while ago and the lab rack has been dismantled and moved (twice) since then.
There are not that many devices in the lab. This stuff is not hard. What's hard is finding the dedicated time to do this. I've tried things like : get up one hour earlier and dedicate that hour to study. What ends up happening is that I often find myself exhausted and taking back that one hour. I've also tried : stay at work one hour extra and dedicate that hour to study. But that often ends up in staying just to do more work and never getting to study. "Oh, you're still here? Let me ask you about...." And finding time on the weekends - well, that's when you have birthday parties, holidays, etc....
So there's really never any 'slow' time when things aren't happening. There's never any 'extra' energy looking for a place to burn off. Like my quitting smoking, I just have to accept that I will have to push to get time and push even harder to get the energy.
I have been talking to a couple of CCIEs and CCIE candidates. I've found that to be very helpful. The people I've spoken with seem to have taken a similar path to my own. There's the push through to the Written exam and an initial surge towards the lab. This iniital surge tends to result in burnout. The burnout produces a one year hiatus. This is right around the time when the written exam expires. So you retake the Written and work on finding a way to the lab.
So far, I've heard two success stories. The first one got fed up with the retake of the written and lack of time - he decided to take the bootcamp route. The second one decided to make a personal sacrifice. He just started working 5 hrs a day during the week and all weekend long on just studying and practicing until he was ready. He didn't mention how long that lasted - and he is scheduled to take the lab in another month and a half.
I don't know - maybe I just needed to have someone else confirm that this is a struggle. But, it made me feel better. I decided to quit mentally beating myself for not completing it the first time around. I've considered the Bootcamp route, but that's not feasible at this time. I can't afford the camp, I can't afford the time off of work. I've also considered - well, actually I tried - the personal sacrifice route. That's when I ended up so sick that I gave in to quitting smoking. If I end up sick again, I don't have anything to give up except my health. What I need is a third option. I haven't found it yet, but I know I need it and I'll keep looking until I find it.
One of the recent things I've done to solve this problem was to read a book on motivation. It gave quite a few good ideas. One of the takeaways was : It's hard to be motivated when you're confused. You need to clear out the unnecessary and focus. Focus leads to motivation.
One of the suggestions is to turn off the news programs. I used to listen to NPR all the time. And there were quite a few 'interest' stories that used to be carried on the program. Notice that I am using the past tense. Either the 'bad news' is so plentiful that there isn't any time, or NPR has gone the route of sensationalized programming. Regardless, I now see how that saps my energy.
So to motivate, I've been downloading podcasts. I had started listening to them in the car a while ago. Some of the Cisco podcasts are just fluffy marketing stuff. I got a bit frustrated with that. I wanted to be able to -learn- something while driving to work. However, I think that may be asking a bit too much. I probably could read some notes into an mp3 file and create a study cast. But that would just help me remember things. That helps on a written test - or with material that needs to be memorized. For the lab, not so much. But it would help keep me oriented towards my studies.
How effective it might be - well, that will be in the next post...
Posted by BlueWolf on April 30, 2011 11:13 AM