I haven’t been giving my site my full attention as of late. It’s just been kind of an afterthought, really. I’ve been working full-time and spending more time building my skills in my free time (more on that in a second).
I only started thinking about my blog when I got an email notifying me that I must renew my domain name (embarrassing, I know). But, that’s about to change. Even if my interests have slightly deviated from security, I should still be updating my blog with everything I’ve been learning. I haven’t stopped learning and growing, I’ve just stopped sharing.
Sharing is a big part of growth. So, in a way, I haven’t just let down my nonexistent audience by not posting, I’ve also been letting myself down. Knowledge is created with the sole purpose of sharing and improving other’s lives. So, I plan on posting (at least once a week) about anything I learn. Whether that is computer security related or just topics I’ve picked up along the way in my life.
This is going to turn into a much more personal blog than it has been in the past. I mean, the name of the site is “samhilliardblog.com” after all. Gotta stay true to that. So, hope you’re ready for me to start opening my heart to you (kidding it’s not going to be exactly like that).
But mostly, as advances in technology continue to make knowledge more instantaneously successful, I want my posts to bring more value than just a regurgitation of what’s already known. That’s what Chat-GPT is for, not blogs.
What I’ve been up to
Lately, I’ve been refining my routine in an attempt to better my mental and physical health. Working full-time has been draining. Especially when your job involves carefully testing applications for even minute flaws.
After my first couple of months at work, I wasn’t taking enough time to exercise, focus on my own interests, or even relax. I would mostly just work extra hours and crash after. It’s too easy to work extra with remote work. Especially when you’re new and care a little too much about impressing others.
Nearing a burnout towards the end of the year, I decided to pause and really think about the path I was going down and if it actually would lead me to live a fulfilling life.
I know it’s corny to say but I really did try to create a “new me” in the New Year.
Switching up my routine
The first step in the process was fixing my morning routine. I used to roll out of bed in the morning straight into my 9am meeting, without any breakfast or teeth-brushing, then take care of myself on my lunch break. Then, I would close my laptop around 6pm or sometimes as late as 8pm for dinner and maybe the gym if I wasn’t too tired.
This would leave me no time in the evening to relax. I really was putting work before myself.
Now, I’m much better. I’ve been waking up around 6:30-7am to either workout or surf (depending on the conditions). Then, after a cold shower, I roll into my 9am stand-up and as soon as that ends, do a yoga/meditation session to start my work day in a more focused state.
The best part is, I have freed so much time in the evenings for myself. I’m focused throughout the day, so I end work earlier. And I don’t have to workout late at night (because I feel exercising at least 5 times a week is an absolute necessity for me). That leaves the entire evening (around 5pm-11pm) for doing whatever I want. Whether it be relaxing, house chores, or working on personal projects.
This seemingly small change of waking up earlier and prioritizing my health before work has led to an immense shift in my life. There is so much truth behind the statement: “Small steps lead to big change” (or something along those lines).
Tracking my habits (meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, and time spent on an interest) has helped me build the discipline I need to maintain this routine. I also recently bought a FitBit to help me track my progress towards better health.
Building discipline as soon as I wake up carries throughout the rest of the day. I don’t spend nearly as much time on my phone freeing up my time for things I actually care about and that add value to my life.
I’ve deviated a little bit from cybersecurity. Not to say I’ve strayed from that being a career path completely. I still take security courses during work to keep growing in that area. Side note: If you are a full-time employee and your company offers learning content TAKE IT. Prioritize your career growth over your day-to-day tasks. At the end of the day, you are an asset to the company. Adding value to yourself is much more important to you and your company than the quantity of the work you do day-to-day.
Anyways, back to what I was saying. Instead of cybersecurity, after hours, I’ve been learning about personal finance and entrepreneurship. I’ve been reading about investing (I recently finished The Intelligent Investor and can’t recommend that enough), taking online courses, and listening to finance/business podcasts in the gym and the car. I don’t even have Spotify Premium anymore because podcasts are ad-free (hot tip).
I want to build strong financial skills now so that I can make the best use of my money as early as possible. Building a habit of investing/saving early in my career will have huge pay-offs in the future. I also want to start managing my debt now so that I can get that out of the way ASAP.
So, I’ve created a habit of reading at least an hour a day (mostly for learning but also for pleasure). Getting a library card has definitely helped with that. Having a deadline forces me to prioritize reading over other activities like playing on my Switch. I don’t want to get stuck in a career path I don’t like, so I spend as much free time as I can pursuing my own interests.
Outside of finance, I want to explore starting a business. There’s something so powerful about being in charge of your own company and directly adding value to the world. I’ve just felt like such a small cog at ServiceNow. This may sound vain (I promise I’m not trying to be), but I just feel like I was meant to do so much more than what I’m currently paid to do.
So, I’ve been taking time out of every day (just about 30 minutes or so) to brainstorm ideas. Lately, I’ve been working on a business idea that I noted down a while ago and have just recently revisited it.
I’m not going to dive into specifics until a minimum viable product has been created but it is a web app. I thought it would be best to go with building a web app because it would help me explore one of my interests. Plus I genuinely enjoy coding. I plan on fully committing to finishing building it no matter what.
In the worst case, it’s a flop — but, in the process, I’ll learn incredibly valuable skills such as building/designing a full web application, marketing a product, and making it profitable. I’m not going to get my hopes up but I really think it’s going to add value to my target audience. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ll learn and grow so much from the process.
I’ve already learned a ton about web development. I’m building the app with React as my front-end framework and letting Google’s Firebase handle authentication and the backend.
If you have a business idea but have doubted that it would have any real success, do it anyway. Especially if it aligns with your passions and interests, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the process and grow a ton by the end.
At the beginning of my design, I kept worrying that my idea wasn’t good enough or that I may end up wasting all this time learning/building the product for it to end up flopping. Learning, especially through experience, is never a waste of time. I kept telling myself that this was a win-win situation even if I lost.
So, life’s too short to spend dwelling on the what-ifs. You’ll truly never know until you try and get to the end.
That’s a little bit of what I’ve been doing. I plan on picking back up the weekly blog posts because it would be a shame for this site to sit around and collect digital dust.
I truly hope what I write adds value to your life and will continue with the posts. Thank you so much for reading this far if you stuck around. It truly means a lot to me. See you soon!