In the past year I’ve put a lot of effort into developing habits that utilize small incremental activities (usually scheduled daily) focusing more on being consistent rather than any big all-or-nothing efforts. The latter makes it all too easy to procrastinate and put off activities when you’re not feeling at your best, and on average means much less actually gets accomplished.
Though not directly info-sec related I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve made fitness more of a priority in my life and that it’s made such a positive impact on well-being, how I feel at home, work, everywhere. It’s also really cool to see how many people in this community are involved with running, weight lifting, etc. when the more stereotypical identity of people in IT is bad diet, staying up late, and inactivity. Likewise I see so many more conference talks now addressing issues of mental illness, burnout, impostor syndrome, etc. On a personal level I’ve found Stoicism incredibly helpful (a great introduction can be found here) in helping to manage stress, cultivate mindfulness, and maintain a healthy outlook.
Again not directly an info-sec pursuit but I’ve also been learning a new language and taking formal classes to help do so. I’m not a very naturally social person. I’m very introverted and shy. The theory of learning the mechanics/grammar of a language is similar to learning a computer language or math, but the practice is something different entirely. You’re regularly fumbling with words in front of other people, you’re frequently confused or say the wrong thing, and if you’re not always somewhat out of your comfort zone you’re probably not learning or getting better. I think I’ve gotten marginally better at being at peace with being uncomfortable through this process and I do actually think it’s an invaluable skill to apply elsewhere in life. If you feel too stupid or embarrassed to ask a question you won’t grow, and all these little occurrences will add up over time. Your ego isn’t your friend.
With all that said I’d like to add only a couple modest development goals for the year:
- Read more! (passive) – More fun and less of a straight technical read I will be starting with Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker. 30 minutes per day minimum.
- Publish more write-ups! (engaged) – Whether it be for Kringlecon, HacktheBox, Virtualbox, whatever. Even if it’s for a relatively simple box, I need to keep these up to maintain my skills and keep learning. A lot of the required mental puzzle-solving is immensely satisfying as well! 1 per month minimum.