Lack of Focus/Motivation

rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlotWorldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
I need to get back on the bandwagon and finish off my MCITP: SA (I'm two test shy of it). My problem is, I'm having a hard time getting motivated to get back to studying. For the first half of this year I was studying for/preparing for the CISSP. Now that it is done and over (since May) I've kept telling myself I need to finish of the MCITP. But once I start reading the material, I get brain dead and just stop.

I'm not really sure what I should do. To be honest, I've thought about talking to my boss to see if I could get the company to spring for me to take the GCWN as that is much more of an interest to me. But even then, am I mentally prepared/up to it? The other part of me is "I'm two tests away from finishing the MCITP:SA!" If I focused, I could (probably) knock it out before the end of the year.

I got into the same "rut" I'm in now years ago when I did my MCSE. I was knocking it out, got done and was burned out. For years! I don't want to go years before doing something else.

So what do you do when you don't have motivation and/or you are just burned out?
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Comments

  • MrRyteMrRyte Member Posts: 347 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Put a deadline/due date on yourself. Set up a test time and date. That way you have a more concrete goal to work towards and thus more motivation to focus on your studies. Also; don't just study it, apply it. As you come across something that catches your interest, take a quick moment to just try it out (on a spare computer of course icon_wink.gif ) just to to see how it works in the real world.

    And lastly; if the BOSS is telling you to get it done-what more motivation do you need than that?icon_study.gif
    NEXT UP: CompTIA Security+ :study:

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  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    MrRyte wrote: »
    Put a deadline/due date on yourself. Set up a test time and date. That way you have a more concrete goal to work towards and thus more motivation to focus on your studies. Also; don't just study it, apply it. As you come across something that catches your interest, take a quick moment to just try it out (on a spare computer of course icon_wink.gif ) just to to see how it works in the real world.

    And lastly; if the BOSS is telling you to get it done-what more motivation do you need than that?icon_study.gif

    My boss isn't telling me to get any certification done, guess I should have clarified that.
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    rwmidl wrote: »
    So what do you do when you don't have motivation and/or you are just burned out?


    I can relate. I recently changed jobs but before I was working at a SMB as a Security Admin and I had constant shifting priorities. They changed so much that I basically shutdown mentally and I haven't picked up a cert sense. I was (and in some ways still am) so burn out from trying to learn random things here and there that it is hard to sit down and study anything (and keep studying it).

    Recently I changed to a network engineer job where I am basically 100% networked focused and that helps. Also what helped was me asking my boss what he wanted me to do next (which was CCNP:S and oddly WCNA for the network analysis). After I move, I am going to force myself to get these done.

    My motivation, besides pleasing my boss and being a bigger benefit to the company is simple: I want to be a BAMF in my field and it starts with being a BAMF at my job. Simply put, I want to be the best that this company has ever seen. I want to make an impact. I know I did so at my last job because just yesterday they inquired with me about how to fix a web issue* (and I was NOT the senior). And of course, I want more money and your money increases when your knowledge and skill increases.

    Have you thought about changing it up? I mean, you sound like you kind of want a change of pace. Have you talked to your manager? What do you want to do? What would make you less bored?
  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    My motivation, besides pleasing my boss and being a bigger benefit to the company is simple: I want to be a BAMF in my field and it starts with being a BAMF at my job.

    This is now going to become my mantra/signature!

    Part of my problem is being bored/stagnant in my current job. I was hired as a sys. admin, but I spend 95% of my time testing software (something I'm not interested in and wasn't really told how much I'd be doing when I interviewed). I've already talked to my boss about this, and he knows I've been looking internally within the company.

    I really want to get into working with Exchange. I had an interview about a month ago for an Exchange Admin position/Windows SME/Server Admin position internally. I did really well in the interview, the manager said I would be a perfect fit, and then I never heard back (the manager never even responded to an email and phone call I sent following up). Then I had another interview where they wanted me but screwed me on the money (I had a post about this the other day). Needless to say, all of that has kind of had me down a bit lately.

    Part of the issue also is I'm beat when I get home. Plus having two kids, by the time we get them to bed I may have an hour or so before I'm getting in to bed. So I'm not too excited about getting in to the "really having no life" mode (I did that with the CISSP prep).

    So back to the question, what interests me/changing it up? As I said, I've been interested in Exchange for awhile. But my feeling on it is, I don't want to lab it. I don't have any exchange experience, but I don't know if setting up a lab/vm will really do me any good. I'd prefer to work with it live/hands on. But other than that one position I interviewed for (which I forgot to add, got reposted this week) most Exchange positions want years of experience.

    I guess it all boils down to I'm not challenged and I'm bored in my job, which then spills over to other aspects of my life (in this case, motivation to study, etc). Make sense?
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • tbgree00tbgree00 Member Posts: 553 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to lacking focus and motivation. I got the MCSE in December 2010 and haven't really given a good try since. I was laid off in November, started a new job in January and then left that for another, better job in March. By the time I got up to steam with that job and started tackling projects there I didn't have the drive to get certs.

    The new job is exhausting. It encourages long hours, requires being on my feet going desk to desk almost constantly all day, and has constantly shifting goals and priorities. The way my day looks at 8:30am changes by 9, either something is dropped on my desk or something breaks. I can't get a full lunch or sit an hour long webcast so studying at work is out. Certs aren't hugely valued either, thus they aren't a big goal I'm encouraged to pursue.

    I've had four study plans this year and they keep getting changed. I've studied for VCP4 and then my funding was taken, started the MCITP:EA and was given a project for Exchange that stopped me. Then that went to someone else and I was given SharePoint. Now that's going away so I'm left scratching my head and starting back on the MCITP:EA.

    I can't complain too much, I love the pace and love it there, I just have a hard time focusing.
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  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    tbgree00 wrote: »
    I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to lacking focus and motivation. I got the MCSE in December 2010 and haven't really given a good try since. I was laid off in November, started a new job in January and then left that for another, better job in March. By the time I got up to steam with that job and started tackling projects there I didn't have the drive to get certs.

    The new job is exhausting. It encourages long hours, requires being on my feet going desk to desk almost constantly all day, and has constantly shifting goals and priorities. The way my day looks at 8:30am changes by 9, either something is dropped on my desk or something breaks. I can't get a full lunch or sit an hour long webcast so studying at work is out. Certs aren't hugely valued either, thus they aren't a big goal I'm encouraged to pursue.

    I've had four study plans this year and they keep getting changed. I've studied for VCP4 and then my funding was taken, started the MCITP:EA and was given a project for Exchange that stopped me. Then that went to someone else and I was given SharePoint. Now that's going away so I'm left scratching my head and starting back on the MCITP:EA.

    I can't complain too much, I love the pace and love it there, I just have a hard time focusing.

    We do quite a bit with Windows security policies/GPO so I know the GCWN falls right in to line with that. The problem is getting work to pay for it. I talked to my wife last night and Sept. 1 I'm buying a voucher and scheduling the 70-642 test for the first part of October.
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • tbgree00tbgree00 Member Posts: 553 ■■■■□□□□□□
    rwmidl wrote: »
    We do quite a bit with Windows security policies/GPO so I know the GCWN falls right in to line with that. The problem is getting work to pay for it. I talked to my wife last night and Sept. 1 I'm buying a voucher and scheduling the 70-642 test for the first part of October.

    I had to look up the GCWN. Sounds pretty neat. Buying and scheduling the test is the way to go. I didn't have any experience with 2008 R2 when I started this job so the delay gave me daily practical experience. I think I'll get more out of it now.

    Good luck on your test. It makes all the difference having a supportive spouse.
    I finally started that blog - www.thomgreene.com
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,658 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Actually, I have been worried about this sort of thing for a while now, myself. I have been getting into psychology lately and some of the recent research about how being so connected is causing us to lose attention. Part of it is self-control. This is handled in the pre-frontal cortex, along with our capabilities for short-term memory and planning. A recent study found that doing memory exercises strengthen not only our memories, but other functions of the pre-frontal cortex, include self-control; as a matter of fact, it becomes subconscious. The study involved excessive alcoholics (30+ drinks per week). The control group was given rather simple memory games and they grew in difficulty. The test group was started on more difficult tasks with increasingly difficulty for a month. At the end of the month, the test group subjects drank, on average, 10 fewer drinks per week, without any suggestion.

    Also, in order to maintain focus, work on performing tasks for no less than 20 minutes. Focus single-mindedly on the task... turning off your mobile, closing your email, etc. Then, take a break, check in on your other activities, and then immerse yourself in another activity for 20 minutes.

    By doing so, this should assist your ability to study.

    Find some games on the internet. The Tower of Hanoi is a game that will improve your planning skills, and ergo other pre-frontal cortex activities.
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  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    rwmidl wrote: »
    I guess it all boils down to I'm not challenged and I'm bored in my job, which then spills over to other aspects of my life (in this case, motivation to study, etc). Make sense?

    It makes perfect sense. I think when you are not question by your job, you have to start challenging yourself. I know you said you didn't want to get exchange experience in production, you may need to get it at home. Grab the MCTS in a exchange 2010 or go for the full MCITP. If you really want Exchange, you are probably going to have to create the opportunity for yourself.

    Also as far as your current job, you could do the MCITP:SA/EA and then do GCWN (which your mentioned) and if you really want to go for the gold, MCTS:Windows Internals. That doing all of those, along with your experience you should have no problem moving into a new position.

    As far as motivation, My dad use to tell me a story of a man who walks up to a man sitting on a porch with his dog. The dog is howling and screaming. The two begin to talk:

    "Why is you dog howling?"
    "He is sitting on a nail."
    "Why doesn't he get up and move. Is something wrong with him?"
    "Nope, I guess it just doesn't hurt enough yet."

    Does it "hurt" enough for you to make a change? I know it isn't always easy (especially when you have a family) but you have to sit and determine if it hurts enough. If it does, then move. It's as simple as that. An admin of your experience and skills knows how to acquire more and market himself. You know how to do it. But do you really want to? That's going to be the important part and the critical choice you have to make.
  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I think I meant I'd rather get Exchange experience in production vs lab.

    Regardless, I've set the goal for myself to start studying/finish studying 70-642 Sept.1 and then plan on testing the first part of October (I may push the test to the middle of Oct. depending). Then start on the 646 right after that so hopefully I'll be done with the SA by the end of the year. That will leave me just two test for the EA (if I decide to finish it), and I can start that after the first of the year.

    Once the new fiscal year starts in October, I can start feeling out my boss on funds for the GCWN (I'm totally cool with doing the online version if they don't/can't afford the $ for travel). We're going to be doing some IIS 7.5 security coming up soon (a few months?) and I know the new material in the GCWN covers IIS 7.5 security.

    Right now I'm "ok" with my job. I like the company (they paid for my two SANS certs and CISSP) and the benefits are good (and my commute is 10 minutes). So I'm "ok" with staying where I am now - I'm keeping my eyes open for internal openings but to leave, the money and opportunity would have to be right. Don't get me wrong, I do have some irons in the fire (external) but they more than likely will take a bit of time to materialize.
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■■□
    It seems to me that you might not be that interested in getting the MCITP other than the fact that you are close to getting it. You completed the CISSP and I see a mess of other security certs on your list. Seems to me like you should start on that GCWN path since you're more likely to finish it and not be bored with the material.

    There's nothing wrong with starting something and not finishing it if that's not a habitual problem for you. The time and money you spent on the other MCITP tests are a sunk cost. Only finish if it makes sense for you and your career goals.
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  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    It seems to me that you might not be that interested in getting the MCITP other than the fact that you are close to getting it. You completed the CISSP and I see a mess of other security certs on your list. Seems to me like you should start on that GCWN path since you're more likely to finish it and not be bored with the material.

    There's nothing wrong with starting something and not finishing it if that's not a habitual problem for you. The time and money you spent on the other MCITP tests are a sunk cost. Only finish if it makes sense for you and your career goals.

    My MCSE is in W2K, so I'm overdue to upgrade. Honestly, I'm finding the Microsoft material "dry" - especially after doing SANS and CISSP. I just need to finish it because yes, I'm almost there.
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,308 ■■■■■■■■■□
    rwmidl wrote: »
    This is now going to become my mantra/signature!

    Part of the issue also is I'm beat when I get home. Plus having two kids, by the time we get them to bed I may have an hour or so before I'm getting in to bed. So I'm not too excited about getting in to the "really having no life" mode (I did that with the CISSP prep).

    I have had the same problem for 5 years hence no CCIE lab pass. On the other hand my career has gone excellently because I have put so much into my jobs on works time. I think you need to think less about certifying to success. What you want is either available to you in the job you are in or it's not. If it's not it may become so if you apply yourself at work and have the right conversation with your boss. If it still isn't there for you then applying yourself at work will put you in a good position to land a job elsewhere that will give you the opportunity. It is your work that defines you as an IT professional, so cancel all certification plans for the rest of this year and simply knuckle down on your performance and projects in the office and raise your profile at work.
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,658 ■■■■■■■■□□
    rwmidl wrote: »
    My MCSE is in W2K, so I'm overdue to upgrade. Honestly, I'm finding the Microsoft material "dry" - especially after doing SANS and CISSP. I just need to finish it because yes, I'm almost there.

    Are you working on MCSE 2003 or MCITP SA/EA? If you are working on 2003, I imagine that you have enough experience to just knock out the four exams that you would need to upgrade. Plus they have a TON of overlap... so you could just do a general cram and then go take them. Then, it is just an upgrade from there to MCITP EA. EDIT: Well, after extracting my head from my rear, I realized that you are doing the MCITP SA.

    It is all about breaking the cycle. I get in the zone and I just go nuts then... because I know that when that cycle breaks, I will be hard pressed to study much at all. As a matter of fact, I think taking the summer off from school has probably contributed to me taking a break on my MCITP EMA (need just one exam) and my PMP... I figured that having time off would allow me to focus on those, but I guess that is not the way I operate... it has to be full throttle or nothing at all.
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  • ipchainipchain Member Posts: 297
    How badly do you want MCITP: SA? If you truly want it, you will find a way to make it happen.

    While your job may not be challenging you to your full potential, do not let it that ruin any goals you may have set for yourself. I can relate to you more than what you can probably imagine, but I am not allowing my lack of motivation to set me back.

    Just to give you an idea, I have taken a 15-20% cut during the past two years, but I am still committed to my goals. My employer is not paying for any of my training, and no merit increase is on the horizon either. Lack of motivation you say? Yeah, most people would find it extremely challenging to find motivation in a situation like that, but the storm must pass in order for the sky to clear up. With that said, I wish you the best of luck in your current role. I have no doubt that not only will you get MCITP: SA done, you will also be able to find a more challenging position within your organization.
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  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I'll cover a few of these real quick.

    Turgon - I put quite a bit in to my job. The problem with it is two fold. One, when I was hired I was told I was going to be the Windows systems admin. Reality is, that is only maybe 5% of my job. 95% is testing the software the developers write. I've had some conversations with some of the other sys.admins who have been here, and they have all said the same thing, this is a software testing position, not a sys. admin (I've been told for over 6 months they would hire me some help but so far no one wants the position). I've talked to my boss about this and he's aware it's more testing than sys.admin, so he's aware that I've been looking in house. The nice thing is I do get to play with any Windows OS so I try to use that to really dig things apart/play around with the OS. Plus, there is a pretty big (potentially big) project coming up in October in the lab that I should have a critical role in. I want to stick it out through that project as it would look really good on my resume.

    Powerfool: Yeah I'm doing the MCITP:SA. At this point I see no real reason to spend the time on MCSE 2003. I'm jumping in to studying for the 642 starting Sept. 1 and testing in the first part of October, then to the 646 (?) after that with a test date late November/early December.
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityMember Posts: 807 ■■■■■■□□□□
    ipchain wrote: »
    How badly do you want MCITP: SA? If you truly want it, you will find a way to make it happen.

    While your job may not be challenging you to your full potential, do not let it that ruin any goals you may have set for yourself. I can relate to you more than what you can probably imagine, but I am not allowing my lack of motivation to set me back.

    Just to give you an idea, I have taken a 15-20% cut during the past two years, but I am still committed to my goals. My employer is not paying for any of my training, and no merit increase is on the horizon either. Lack of motivation you say? Yeah, most people would find it extremely challenging to find motivation in a situation like that, but the storm must pass in order for the sky to clear up. With that said, I wish you the best of luck in your current role. I have no doubt that not only will you get MCITP: SA done, you will also be able to find a more challenging position within your organization.

    thanks for the encouragement! This whole thread has been really good for me, you guys have really given me the "kick" I needed to get back in to gear!
    CISSP | CISM | ACSS | ACIS | MCSA:2008 | MCITP:SA | MCSE:Security | MCSA:Security | Security + | MCTS
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,308 ■■■■■■■■■□
    rwmidl wrote: »
    I'll cover a few of these real quick.

    Turgon - I put quite a bit in to my job. The problem with it is two fold. One, when I was hired I was told I was going to be the Windows systems admin. Reality is, that is only maybe 5% of my job. 95% is testing the software the developers write. I've had some conversations with some of the other sys.admins who have been here, and they have all said the same thing, this is a software testing position, not a sys. admin (I've been told for over 6 months they would hire me some help but so far no one wants the position). I've talked to my boss about this and he's aware it's more testing than sys.admin, so he's aware that I've been looking in house. The nice thing is I do get to play with any Windows OS so I try to use that to really dig things apart/play around with the OS. Plus, there is a pretty big (potentially big) project coming up in October in the lab that I should have a critical role in. I want to stick it out through that project as it would look really good on my resume.

    Powerfool: Yeah I'm doing the MCITP:SA. At this point I see no real reason to spend the time on MCSE 2003. I'm jumping in to studying for the 642 starting Sept. 1 and testing in the first part of October, then to the 646 (?) after that with a test date late November/early December.

    Its clearly more an application testing role than a sys admin role. Im not sure what the big project is but if you believe that you are doing the wrong sort of work for your career trajectory then I think you need to change that. This may require a move elsewhere. You have a CISSP, how are you leveraging that in your current work?
  • kiki162kiki162 Member Posts: 635 ■■■■■□□□□□
    So what do you do when you don't have motivation and/or you are just burned out?

    Personally, I just schedule the test for a reasonable date in the future. That way it gives me time to hunker down, focus, and get it done.
    Part of my problem is being bored/stagnant in my current job. I was hired as a sys. admin, but I spend 95% of my time testing software

    It sounds like you may need to either jump ship, or wait around for a good internal opp to come up. If you are spending most of your time wanting to "bang your head into the wall", then I'd suggest a change in jobs. You seem to have a lot of skills, and desire to learn something new and educating yourself with obtaining new certs.

    If you have this big project coming up, and it actually DOES come up and plays out in your favor..great! But it seems with the track record of this company and some of the things you have talked about, it's more talk than anything. And more than likely, if the project came and went you'd probably be back to the same old thing. If you are THAT frustrated, start looking outside the company.
  • SamLea27SamLea27 Member Posts: 48 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I hear you man, it can certainly be tough to be motivated and everyone is going to have different motivators and things that will get them moving.
    For me, I set up a reward system such as if I get through x chapters or whatever, I get x reward (a new iPod, an ice cream cone, dependent on what will really motivate you) and then once you pass an exam have a big reward that you allow yourself to get that you wouldn't normally splurge on. I actually used this for working out since I needed more motivation to get to that gym and it worked great.
    Another one is to commit yourself by telling people around you about your goals. Telling people that you are going to complete 2 exams by the end of the year (or whatever it is) makes you more accountable and more likely to succeed.
    Also, see if your significant other will help you. Have the other person reward you at certain points, or help you study, or watch a movie with the kids so that you have to lock yourself up in your office to get it donw-whatever.
    good luck!
  • kradkrad Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Try to relax a bit your self don't be stress out. Discipline your self that you can do it or self motivation.
  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I feel your pain, I passed my CCENT almost three years ago and now need to finish ICND2 before it expires (the CCENT that is). I have a list of stuff I want to do and this is just a bump I have to get through. I've been studying and I look at it this way, once I get through this I can move onto the other certs that I have interest in. Plus, review time is just around the corner and having some certs should help with a raise (I hope!). You will do it and things will get better. To steal a line from Batman, "The night is always darkest, just before the dawn." Brother, ain't that the truth!
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  • DevilsbaneDevilsbane Member Posts: 4,214 ■■■■■■■■□□
    There is no shame in putting it off, the two exams won't be going anywhere for awhile and you completed a massive accomplishment with the CISSP. If you were earlier in your career my advice would be to buck up and finish it. Since you are at a respectable point, it wouldn't be absurd for you to take a nice amount of time off and enjoy the other aspects of your life that you probably neglected in the CISSP. Those two exams will be there waiting in 3 months or 6 months.
    rwmidl wrote: »
    Part of my problem is being bored/stagnant in my current job.

    I can relate to this as well. Lately I've had a lot more work piled on me at work (We are working on like 4 projects right now and I have a hand in all of them) and the home life just hasn't been as good as it once was. Things are piling up and I've lacked the motivation to deal with them. This morning before I left my car I reminded myself that attitude is everything, and that today I'm gonna get my $**t done and get moving in the right direction again. So far it has been working, I've already caught up on several things I've been putting off for awhile.

    Another idea might be for you to find a new job. Even if it is the same stuff, the newness of a different environment should create some challenges that keep your interest.
    Decide what to be and go be it.
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