CCIE Pursuit Blog

October 18, 2007

CCIE Burnout

Ethan Banks has a very good post up concerning the toll that CCIE studies take on your personal life.  I strongly suggest reading it.

CCIE Journey also recently posted about motiviation.  I can relate to exactly what these two are going through.

Like Ethan, I have a family (6 year old son and teenage daughter).  My daughter is pretty autonomous, but my son requires quite  a bit of attention.  It’s hard to juggle CCIE studies and family time.  I try to do the vast majority of my study hours on the weekend.  I can generally carve out a nice chuck of time and commit it to CCIE studies.  That said, I have to be flexible.  If my son wants to do something or my wife needs me to watch the kids while she does something, then the studies need to go on the back burner.  This struggle for time is only going to get worse once winter starts as outdoor activities will be limited.  Right now, this hasn’t reached a breaking point, but I can see that happening once I start tackling 8 hour labs.

CCIE Journey blogged on motivation.  I have to say that there are days when I really can’t get going.  I’ve learned that the best thing to do in those cases is to simple stop studying.  I learn more in an hour or two of concentrated studies than I do in eight hours when my heart just isn’t in it.  I think that CCIE studies are analogous to maintaining a diet or keeping a workout schedule.  You are going to stumble.  You are going to get off schedule.  You are going to have days where your best option is to just pack it in.  The thing that you need to do is to recognize these times and not let them get you so down that you sacrifice your final goal.  My hardest day is generally the first time that I jump back into my studies after taking time off.  So far though, I find that I still have the fire to go forward once I jump back in.  It’s getting my lazy ass back into the study routine that is the hardest part. 

Finally, quitting IS an option.  When I started this pursuit, my mantra was “I’m going to make a run at being a CCIE.  Even if I fall short, I’m sure to learn a lot on the way.”  That is still true.  Even if I were to quit today, I have learned so much over the last 6 months that I can’t possibly consider that time a waste.  If I get to the point where my family is suffering or I just completely burn out during my studies, then I will pull the plug.  It may be a disappointing way to end my run (and this blog), but I won’t consider it a failure or a waste of time.

Enough babbling…back to MPLS.  🙂



  1. Keep up the good work, studying MPLS from OECG!!!

    We are the well wishers here mostly regular in reading through all the blog’s entries.We can understand the amount of study pressure and the different things to manage.

    It really becomes hard to find time for anything else.
    But it’s the flow of time which you have understand and make the sacrifices.
    I wish you a great good Luck for your success…..

    Just remember a very repeated quote for pursuit ”Tough times don’t last but tough people do”


    Comment by Dara — October 19, 2007 @ 1:24 am | Reply

  2. Well you dont know whata relief this post was. 2 weeks back, in the middle of BGP studies i got stuck at regular expressions…
    To be honest, regular expressions can suck you in if you forget that you are a ccie student, as it can be a subject of its own.
    The same thing happened to me as i got into more and more complex regex i felt doomed 🙂
    Then I took a break thinking that if i cant do BGP, how will I ever do CCIE 🙂
    But this post is a such a life-jacket , seems I am not the only one who suffers on the way 🙂
    SO I am finally back to studies after a 2 week break, the first of which i kept thinking about quitting… not anymore. Thankyou

    Comment by barooq — October 19, 2007 @ 9:39 am | Reply

  3. This really hit home for me. It took me 18 months of preparation from the written to passing my lab in Septemeber. I have a 7yo daughter and a 6yo son. Over the summer, I had to completely change my study habits…the kiddos just weren’t getting enough Daddy time. I realized it was ok to take a day off. It’s more than ok, it’s essensial. I also quit studying in 8-10 hour blocks. I started going to bed at 9:00p and getting up at 3:30a. I could study for 3-4 solid hours on a fresh brain and fresh coffee. Without a doubt, this was the single best change I made in my study habits. I was alert and focused for my studies, and had family time in the evenings.

    I did differ on my approach, in that was wasn’t ‘taking a shot’ at the CCIE. I had to pass. It had been a long time personal goal, and I think that utlimately helped me get over the hump.

    Comment by keith — October 23, 2007 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  4. @Dara – Thank you for the encouragement.

    @Barooq – I am glad that you have continued your studies. Sometimes the best way to handle a tough subject is to drop it for a while and come back to it later. The CCIE has more than enough subjects to concentrate on. 🙂

    @Keith – First of all, congratulations on getting your number. I had planned on taking a year to study for the CCIE (pass the written and take my first lab). 18 months is probably a better timeframe (as I am finding out). While I personally cannot operate well at 3:30 am, your point about changing your study habits to accomodate your role as a father is well taken.

    Comment by cciepursuit — October 23, 2007 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  5. I passed my CCIE in Oct, after failing in Sept. I agree that studying for any longer than 6 hours becomes counter productive. Sleep is very important when studying for the CCIE. It is key to be relaxed and rested when doing labs.

    Comment by rich — November 19, 2007 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  6. Agree with a lot of the comments here. I have a demanding fulltime job as a network designer and a 4 month old son. My study blog is here..

    I have been working through IPExpert’s version 9 workbook on my homerack and using remote labs since May 2007. I find early morning sessions best with evenings free to help my wife after work with our young son followed by quality time together and early nights. 18 months seems reasonable with this approach and Im certainly feeling the benefit of regular short study sessions most days on the rack.

    Comment by Turgon — January 12, 2008 @ 11:45 am | Reply

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