In Need of Focus


Image courtesy Ryan Ritchie via flickr

I like spending time with my family and being involved at church. I like certification exams. I like studying and learning new things. I like HAM radio, blogging, and photography. I like keeping up with the Marvel movies and TV shows. That’s just a few of the things I like. Specific technologies I like include Wi-Fi, Routing & Switching (R&S), Data Center, Virtualization and other topics directly and tangentially connected to networking topics. You know what? I like too many things.

Reality Check

I’ve recently come to realize that I’m trying to do too much and I have finite time. I’m trying to keep up with way too many technologies. It’s just not possible to keep current on everything. I have decided that I need to cut a few things out, or at least minimize them. Obviously church and family can’t be cut, so I have to start cutting out other things. Like watching TV. Deciding that Data Center stuff really isn’t that important to me and that it’s okay that I only know what I need to do my job. Realizing that R&S really isn’t my focus, even though I like it. That I don’t need to be a VMware expert. I like all these topics and will continue to learn about them through the course of my work, but I’m never going to be the expert that I want to be if I can’t narrow my focus.

Let It Go

To narrow my focus, it’s time to let some of my interests go. Time to allow them to be things I am aware of, but not actively pursuing. Virtualization, Data Center, and SDN can no longer be topics of study. I’ll learn what I need to know as projects demand it, but I will not seek out knowledge in these spaces. I work more with R&S and will keep a bit more current with that, but it still won’t be my focus. Practically, this means actively reducing inputs. I need to unsubscribe from some blogs and podcasts. I need to use my VCP5 exam voucher and regardless of pass or fail, just walk away. If I unfollow you on twitter, I apologize; you’ve been moved out of my main timeline and into a list.

Wi-Fi or Bust

I’m putting the bulk of my time that can be devoted to studying, learning, and generally keeping current, into the realm of Wi-Fi. There is also sort of a vague tie in to HAM radio, which is a bonus. Wi-Fi is taking up more and more of my time at the office. The problems are interesting and RF is a topic I’m passionate about (see also, HAM radio). Wi-Fi, as an industry, has a lot going on and it is the future of the access layer. I like Wi-Fi and have more interest in it than with anything else, so it’s Wi-Fi or bust.

Niggling things to get in my way include my CCNP R&S, which is due for recertification. I need to pass a CCNP level exam, but I haven’t decided for sure what I’m going to do. I’m torn between an exam towards CCNP Wireless, the ARCH exam (which would grant the CCDP), or just taking TSHOOT to get the recert out of the way. What I really want to be studying right now is the CWNA, so I’m leaning towards TSHOOT just to remove that pressure…

Thick or Thin

I say all this publicly for two reasons. First, it is easier to follow through with a commitment when you state it for everyone to see. It makes the commitment real and peer pressure (even if it’s just imagined) is a powerful force. Secondly, I say this in the hopes that you might start thinking about how you spend your own study time. Are you spreading it thinly over a wide swath of topics or thickly on something you are really passionate about? I can tell you that spreading it thin is unsatisfying. Focusing has more reward, even though you have to leave some things behind. Find what you are passionate about and chase it. I promise it’ll be worth it.


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