The Evolution of Motivation

A question that I’ve been asked several times over the course of working towards my CCIE has been, “What is your motivation to do this?” I’ve even asked myself this question, but the answer hasn’t been what I expected after I really analyzed it, but it has helped me gain a new awareness and insight into how powerful motivation is in driving towards goals in life.

My motivation has changed since I initially started studying over a year ago. In the beginning, I viewed it as the pinnacle of where I wanted to be in my career. I thought of the CCIE as proof that I had a certain set of knowledge, and that it would look good on my resume if I ever needed it. As I progressed in my studies, waking up at 4am M-F so that I could get 3 hours of study time in before work, along with numerous hours on the weekends, my perspective changed. I began to enjoy the journey, which was not the case in the beginning. I found joy in learning new things about technologies I only thought I knew, and the more I learned, the less I realized I knew. This was exciting rather than frustrating, which may sound unusual unless you’ve been in a similar point in your life.

Since I was a kid, I never felt challenged in an academic sense. To clarify, it’s not that I didn’t succeed in the garden variety academic world through school, it’s that I never found it interesting and didn’t have any appreciation for it. When I didn’t find it interesting, I found learning things boring and tedious, and I did what was required to succeed in spite of not having an appreciation of the process of learning. The same thing happened with my earlier certifications, I didn’t enjoy learning the tedious stuff in my CCNA and CCNP studies, but I did them because I wanted to have those certifications. Something with the CCIE, however, finally broke through and awakened the joy of learning for me. Apparently I’m a much slower learner than I viewed myself in the past.

Motivation at different stages in my life has changed dramatically. In my 20s, it was all about money. I thought that if I wanted to earn X, I needed to do A, B, and C, and then I would be happy because I’d be earning $X. I usually succeeded in this path, but I never felt fulfilled in the end. Once I hit my mid-30s, and yes, I realize I’m dating myself here, I learned that time is a much more important asset than money. Time to not only do what I enjoy, but spending time with those who I loved, and time to enhance my own abilities and grow as a person.

Finding the joy in failure, in discovering how little I know about things, has brought about new motivation in my life to continue to improve myself not only academically but as a person as well. I began to turn from the introverted person who was afraid of having conversations with people to finding a community of people who I enjoyed engaging with. Fear was once a motivator for running away from things I didn’t want to do, but fear became a motivator to try new things and face things I once ran away from because I didn’t want to fail.

In the end, my motivation has become simply to be someone who is always in pursuit of growth. I don’t want to be content with being good enough, or thinking that I have all of the answers, because I never will. Challenge yourself to seek out new paths in life and new opportunities, because even when you fail, you will grow and learn. It’s one thing that if I could go back to my early 20s and tell myself, I would.