My 2022 Reflection
With the new year starting, it's time to do my annual reflection on what I did last year and look forward to what I want to achieve next year. Since I put a lot of pressure on myself by publically stating my 2022 goals to the world, I had to make follow-up content.
2022 was one of the best, if not the best, year of my life.
I completed many personal goals and then some.
But this website is all about my professional life, so we won't go into detail.
I had my best professional year to date.
I didn't fully satisfy all my 2022 goals, but in some aspects, I exceeded them, and overall I did much more in 2022 than I did in 2021, which was the ultimate goal.
I plan to make 2023 an even better year. Stay tuned!
I maintained a 3.95 GPA, and I am dangerously close to completing my bachelor's degree.
I earned four professional certifications and fully studied for a fifth one (I'm taking the exam in early 2023).
I achieved a 90% work efficiency throughout the year.
I earned the 180-day streak badge on TryHackMe.
I read more in 2022 than I did in any previous year.
I established a great workflow for weekly, quality blog posts on my website.
I made many professional connections.
Let's begin with my publically stated goals for 2022. The back half of this video explains what I planned to do in 2022 at the beginning of last year:
Zero Days Off
It's probably no surprise that I failed this goal. However, I estimate that I worked/studied in about 90% of my off time. My goal was to study at least three hours on days I went to my day job, and at least 6 hours on days I didn't go to my day job. I can honestly say that I completed this goal to about 90%. This is way more than I have ever done in a given year and well beyond what most other people are capable of. I'm proud of my effort, dedication, and commitment to advancing my cybersecurity career goals. You will clearly see that I did not slack if you keep reading this post which will explain my 2022 achievements.
Stay in School | Maintain a 3.92 GPA
This one I knocked out of the park. I was in at least one class at a time for the duration of the year, acing six courses, which bumped my GPA to 3.95. At this point, I only have two more classes to complete for my Bachelor of Science (BS) in Cybersecurity Management & Policy. I estimate I will complete my degree by May this year, perhaps even by the end of March. Certifications
I had a great year in terms of certifications. I completed more than I originally thought I could do, but there were some deviations in my 2022 plan.
My goal was to get four professional certifications; EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CompTIA Cloud+, CompTIA PenTest+, and eLearnSecurity Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT). What I actually got:
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) (Results Pending)
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
I had absolutely no intention of getting this certification this year. I thought I was at least a couple of years away from getting it due to its difficulty and prestige. My second to last cybersecurity class (Advanced Information Systems Security) for my Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Management & Policy at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) made the CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide the course book. Since I had to read the book to pass the class, it only made sense to study for an additional 1.5 months to prepare myself for the exam. I passed the exam on my first-ever attempt. What a great achievement and this is why I could not get the eJPT in 2022. A great trade, no doubt.
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
Another certification I had no intention of shooting for. It's important to understand that goals and plans will shift throughout the year. Which can be a very good thing. This one made sense for me to go after because CompTIA was doing the CySA+ 003 Beta. CompTIA's beta exams allow candidates to test on the un-released versions of their exams for a small fee ($50 compared to the $300+ they normally charge). These beta exams allow CompTIA to shape and fine-tune the final version of the exam. The drawback of taking a beta exam is that there isn't any material to study. You have to rely solely on the previous exam version and outside resources for studying. Another drawback is that you have to wait for significant amounts of time (five months or more, in my case) to get your exam results. The huge pro with beta exams is that it's only $50 to take them, and you get the certification if you pass. The CySA+ 003 will be released in May this year, according to CompTIA. I fully expect to pass this beta exam. I had a lot of confidence in my answers and a lot of fun during the exam. Because of this, I think It's alright to say that I "earned" the CySA+ in 2022, despite my certifications saying May 2023 (assuming I pass).
CompTIA Cloud+ & PenTest+
There's not much to say about either of these. I planned to get both of these certifications, and I got them. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun with them. I really like CompTIA certifications, if you can't tell.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
I studied for this one and was a couple of weeks away from taking the exam. Then I saw a massive backlash on social media bashing this certification. Because of that, I stopped pursuing it. I dedicated much time to watching the ITProTV video course and reading the exam study guide. It was not an easy decision to stop pursuing this one, but at the time, it seemed reasonable. However, despite the public outcry, I have decided to take the exam in 2023. The CEH is still one of the most in-demand certifications in the industry and the second most desirable certification for Penetration Tester roles. I would be a fool not to get it.
eLearnSecurity Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT)
After fully studying for five other certifications, there wasn't any time for me to get this one in 2022. I'm glad the year worked out the way it did; as I said above trading the eJPT for the CISSP is a good trade. I'd rather have the CISSP on my resume over the eJPT any day of the week. That's not to devalue the eJPT. I still want the certification; it's great for aspiring penetration testers. The great thing about life is that I can add as many certifications as I want to my resume; I just have to do the work. Which if you don't know by now, I'm not afraid of hard work. I will start studying for it right after this blog post gets posted. You can expect me to post about my eJPT success in the coming months.
365-Day Hacking Streak on TryHackMe
Unfortunately, I did not complete this goal in 2022. I got to around 75-ish days in a row before my first streak was snapped. I also had another 20-ish day streak that was also snapped. I'm currently on a 219-day hacking streak on TryHackMe. I will have my 365-day streak badge in May this year if all goes according to plan. It's worth noting that this goal is extremely hard to accomplish. My previous streaks were snapped due to just forgetting to get on the website due to other life events getting in the way. This goal takes extraordinary dedication. I've been successful in getting to 219 days due to making this a top priority rather than something I do at the end of the day. Three alarms remind me to hack something on the platform before midnight daily. Stay tuned for my success on this one in 2023!
Two Quality YouTube Videos a Week
This one did not get completed. I found out that despite being very good at editing videos, I'm very slow at it. While being slow at video editing, I realize I greatly dread it. Recording YouTube videos is a blast, but editing them to my standards takes a lot of my time and isn't a joy to me. Because of that, I stopped producing YouTube videos and decided to use the time towards other goals. There are no promises or timelines, but I want to create some way to produce video content without the responsibility of editing. I'll figure out a system eventually. Stay tuned!
Two Quality Blog Posts a Week
Like my YouTube goals, this one took a back seat in favor of my other goals. The difference between blog posts and YouTube videos is that I actually enjoy writing, and I can produce a full-length blog post in a fraction of the time compared to a short YouTube video. I've been releasing blog posts once a week for over a month now. You can expect this trend to continue in 2023. New blog posts from me every Monday at 8 am ET. I encourage you to subscribe to my mailing list, so you get an email when my blog posts get published. I look forward to writing quality content for the community in the coming years.
Read an Hour Every Day
I didn't complete this one; there were days I did not read. But I do feel like I read more than I did in 2021. I fully studied for five certifications and completed a TON of TryHackMe rooms (most require a lot of reading). I'm happy with my overall reading output in 2022.
Conclusion & My 2023 Plans
As I already mentioned, I plan to pass the CEH and eJPT exams in 2023. I also already said I wanted to earn the 365-day streak badge on TryHackMe. My 2023 will be even better than my 2022. Besides these three goals, I'm keeping the rest of my 2023 plans to myself. Stay tuned to see what I do!
“Tell the world what you intend to do, but first show it.” - Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich