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  1. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #1

    Default The Three Ingredients Needed in the Pursuit of Certifications (Or Any Other Pursuit)

    Disclaimer: This is my own philosophy on what's needed to pursue something, such as certifications. It's what I've followed and managed in pursuing just about everything in life.

    This post has been a long time coming. As I've been getting much closer to riding off into the cert sunset, putting my philosophy down on paper has been on my mind more and more. These three ingredients, and the management of them, is what has helped me get to where I am today. Maybe this will help those new to certs or new in their careers.

    There are three ingredients that I've needed to pursue a certification. In the order they appear, are Desire, Motivation, and Drive. First comes the desire to pursue the certification, next up comes the motivation, and finally the internal drive to pursue and follow it through to completion. I'll detail them below.

    Desire: This one is self-explanatory, but there is an initial desire to pursue a certification. This is the wanting to pursue the certification in the first place. You can actually pursue a certification without the desire, it will just make it tougher. Why would anyone do that you ask? For example, if it’s a condition of employment (typically within 6 months), or later required for the position.

    Motivation: Motivation can be different things for different people. For me, motivation is the why of pursuing the certification. Why am I pursuing it, what is making me pursue it. Motivation can be internal or external. Internally, I could be wanting to pursue the certification because it’s a difficult and renowned one, or a personal challenge. Externally, the why could be the afore-mentioned condition of employment, or it could be the hot, new, sought after cert, or a high-paying one. You can pursue a certification without the motivation, the problem is without knowing the why or having the reason, you could end up obtaining a certification that doesn’t make sense for you to have.

    Drive: Drive is arguably the most important ingredient. Drive can be different for different people, but it’s essentially the internal motor to keep moving forward and making progress. Its the internal impetus to keep going. The fire inside. Absent a real desire, motivation, or even both, drive can in fact push you through the finish line. It’s what allows us to power through when things get tough.

    When all three ingredients are present, and at high levels, accomplishing a certification can seem like an easy task. I believe that you can have zero of any one ingredient, and still accomplish your goal. You can have combinations of low to no desire and motivation, but if your drive is high, you can still push through. With a combination of low to no drive and motivation, one could accomplish your goal if you desire it bad enough, but it would be a tough slog. The one combination I feel has to be present, even if at a very low level, is desire and drive. Absent those two, I feel it’s next to impossible to reach the end as you would have no reason for pursuing it, and no drive to move forward.

    What has helped me to manage these ingredients is to first rank each one on a scale of 1-10 on the outset of pursuing a certification, and then monitor throughout. Desire and Motivation are easier to boost than drive from what I’ve found. When motivation is low, I’ve looked for positives to obtaining the cert. Usually when finding a benefit and motivation going up, the desire goes up too. For drive, it’s one of those things that I think naturally ebbs and flows for the most part. Some people do burn hot all the time, and some people just don’t have any drive to move forward, but I think for most people it changes for various reasons. Unfortunately for me the only remedy I’ve found for low drive is an artificial boost (and not one that’s good for you). I found that energy drinks gave me what felt like a boost in my drive to push through. Anyways, hopefully someone starting out finds this helpful when pursuing certifications, and it helps them to look at the endeavor from a different perspective.
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  3. Are we having fun yet? UnixGuy's Avatar
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    #2
    I've just realised how many high level certifications you actually have, well done and that must have taken a lot of discipline! Great post +1
    Goal: GCFA (DONE), GPEN
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  4. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #3
    Thanks UnixGuy! Understanding those ingredients and most importantly managing them, is how I was able to accomplish everything. Understanding when one of them was lacking, and trying to boost the others, or changing up my approach to studying was key. And in that same vein, realizing nowadays that along with my drive, my desire is next to nothing, I realize it's probably time to hang up my cert hat. I will probably look to help others starting out in any way I can.
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    #4
    You left out one critical ingredient, time...
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  6. Darth Lord of the Sith ITSpectre's Avatar
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    #5
    I would call this the DMD formula.... Very good motivation.... I will bookmark this to refer to it as I go through my certs.... May I print this out to post on my wall at work and at home???
    In the darkest hour, there is always a way out - Eve ME3
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  7. Tecnomancer trojin's Avatar
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by infosec123 View Post
    You left out one critical ingredient, time...
    Time - its just an excuse to not doing anything
    Good horse is expensive... A Trojan horse even more
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  8. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ITSpectre View Post
    I would call this the DMD formula.... Very good motivation.... I will bookmark this to refer to it as I go through my certs.... May I print this out to post on my wall at work and at home???
    Absolutely! If it can help one person then it was worth it.


    Quote Originally Posted by infosec123 View Post
    You left out one critical ingredient, time...
    Yes, time can be a huge factor but it's also something that is so individual specific that I won't get into that. I think these three ingredients are relevant for everyone though. I've always believed that anyone can make the time and if they want something bad enough (desire) and have the drive to make it happen, they will find the time. Wake up early, stay up late, lunch break, train ride, 15 minutes here and there. What I posted was my philosophy and worked for me. Time was never a factor in deciding to pursue a certification so that's part of why I didn't post it as an ingredient. But for others I understand it may be.
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  9. Senior Member cyberguypr's Avatar
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    #8
    Another critical element: money. Certs keep increasing in price constantly. For some folks it may be difficult to carve out the funds for those $500+ certs. Yes, you gotta invest in yourself and whatnot, but still a struggle for many.
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  10. Member PersianImmortal's Avatar
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by trojin View Post
    Time - its just an excuse to not doing anything

    Here here. If something is important to you, you'll find a way to make the time.
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by PersianImmortal View Post
    Here here. If something is important to you, you'll find a way to make the time.
    OK, let me know how well your OSCP goes when you work 9 hours a day at a job with no downtime and come home to a working wife, two children (7 month old and 4 year old) and three dogs...
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  12. Tecnomancer trojin's Avatar
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by infosec123 View Post
    OK, let me know how well your OSCP goes when you work 9 hours a day at a job with no downtime and come home to a working wife, two children (7 month old and 4 year old) and three dogs...
    Ok - I'm not doing OSCP but...I have
    - full time work
    - MSc in progress
    - family with 2 daughters (one live 3 hrs drive from us, and I still have time to meet her every week)
    - only 1 dog
    - we love to travel (few weeks at least 2 times every year)

    So.. I still was able to pass 5 exams - 3 certs this year. Next 2 are coming

    It's just excuse - I really know what I'm talking about
    Good horse is expensive... A Trojan horse even more
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    #12
    I understand what you live Infosec123, I work 50-55h hours a week without any emergency, than home with a working wife and now a 9 old dauther.. I skipped the dogs parts.. too much work It is important to manage your time wisely. It is easier to have 30-50 minutes reading or studying session each day (almost) than trying to manage to fit in your schedule a block of 3-4 hours. Studying will become part of the family routine, than only in the few last days before the exam you can get into a more "crunch time" study mode. Keep the big block of time you manage to get for labbing and testing.
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  14. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveLavoie View Post
    I understand what you live Infosec123, I work 50-55h hours a week without any emergency, than home with a working wife and now a 9 old dauther.. I skipped the dogs parts.. too much work It is important to manage your time wisely. It is easier to have 30-50 minutes reading or studying session each day (almost) than trying to manage to fit in your schedule a block of 3-4 hours. Studying will become part of the family routine, than only in the few last days before the exam you can get into a more "crunch time" study mode. Keep the big block of time you manage to get for labbing and testing.
    This is what I do when things get busy in life. An hour of actual study, and then a few days before exam time, the wife knows I spend a large amount of the day studying.


    Quote Originally Posted by infosec123 View Post
    OK, let me know how well your OSCP goes when you work 9 hours a day at a job with no downtime and come home to a working wife, two children (7 month old and 4 year old) and three dogs...
    Look I get it, life can be busy, but I have no sympathy with people who claim they cannot find time to study. From where I started to where I am now, I did my Bachelors, and got my first few certs, then my MSISA and more advanced certs, all while having a wife, buying a house and dealing with a ton of house stuff, having 1, then 2, then 3 kids, moving 3 years in a row, then buying another house, doing renovation work, working 40+ hours a week, with a 45-60 min commute nonetheless, for most of the years. And you know what, in doing all of that, I sacrificed very little actual time with my family. Why? Because I woke up a couple hours early while studying for the certs. Staying up after the kids went to bed and studying (still managed to stay up on tv shows through all of that). It's all about how well you can manage the time, and making some small sacrifices (video games, tv, etc). Heck, Iristheangel worked two fulltime jobs and still managed to knock out certs. Find someone who has made it work and reach out to them. We are always willing to give advice and help suggest ways to accomplish goals.


    Quote Originally Posted by trojin View Post
    Ok - I'm not doing OSCP but...I have
    - full time work
    - MSc in progress
    - family with 2 daughters (one live 3 hrs drive from us, and I still have time to meet her every week)
    - only 1 dog
    - we love to travel (few weeks at least 2 times every year)

    So.. I still was able to pass 5 exams - 3 certs this year. Next 2 are coming

    It's just excuse - I really know what I'm talking about
    This guy knows what's up
    Last edited by JoJoCal19; 08-07-2017 at 07:33 PM.
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  15. Member PersianImmortal's Avatar
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by infosec123 View Post
    OK, let me know how well your OSCP goes when you work 9 hours a day at a job with no downtime and come home to a working wife, two children (7 month old and 4 year old) and three dogs...

    Hey, props to you man, I've never studied for the OSCP, but I know its no joke. I wasn't trying to downplay anyone's struggle or efforts, I was just highlighting how saying "I don't have time" becomes counterproductive for a good exam prep mindset.

    If I ever end up with two kids and three dogs, I'll hope to have half the stamina you have. Good luck with your exam!
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  16. Completely Clueless TechGromit's Avatar
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    #15
    There's some more ingredients for your stew.

    FEAR: Fear of losing your job and being unable to find another job for an extended period of time. Fear is what helps motivates me to keep studying for certifications, passed the exams and shelling out my hard earned money for exam attempts, books, practice tests, etc.

    GREED: The desire to make more money, with the right certifications and some experience like the CCNP for example you could earn well over 100k a year. Even without experience, often the right certifications you can get into an entry level gig.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
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  17. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #16
    Quote Originally Posted by infosec123 View Post
    You left out one critical ingredient, time...
    So I've been thinking more, and you're not wrong. The three ingredients as posted is what I needed to manage to pursue certs, and ones that I think are universal to everyone. Everyone is different and may have additional ingredients, as mentioned, so of course Time may be an ingredient for you. So definitely add that in to your consideration.

    Quote Originally Posted by TechGromit View Post
    There's some more ingredients for your stew.

    FEAR: Fear of losing your job and being unable to find another job for an extended period of time. Fear is what helps motivates me to keep studying for certifications, passed the exams and shelling out my hard earned money for exam attempts, books, practice tests, etc.

    GREED: The desire to make more money, with the right certifications and some experience like the CCNP for example you could earn well over 100k a year. Even without experience, often the right certifications you can get into an entry level gig.
    Yup, so for me Fear went under the motivation column. Same with Greed. I would say Greed is what gave me the motivation to pig out on ISACA certs.
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    #17
    Nailed it 100% on this post! My ingredients include yours and also balance and consistency. Balance is something I have to have in my life and without it I find that I get burned out quickly. Finding a balance between all of life's responsibilities reduces stress and makes things easier to achieve. Consistency is ensuring I follow through on my mental checklists each day. If I am pursuing a cert, I tell myself "Okay I have to read X amount of pages in this book each day." If I don't get to it on a particular day, then it gets added to the next days studying. One thing I do (which might seem weird to some) is study while exercising in my garage. I have a big white board hanging on the wall and will write things down or draw diagrams in between sets/exercises. It may sound crazy, but I think better in that type of setting. Plus I can get two things done at once which saves time!

    There will always be things that tend to get in the way, but with a little creativity and careful planning, nothing is impossible.
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    #18
    Oprah has 24 hours in each day, so do we!

    My best ingredient was desperation. Not so much anything else, just a fear of being poor forever.
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