The UPSC Civil Services exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams. Some call it ‘The mother of all Exams’. Candidates are selected for one of the most crucial jobs of the country i.e. Public Service. Candidates are screened in three stages viz. Preliminary, Mains and Personality Test. The syllabus is so vast that teachers jokingly say to the aspirants that “Everything under the Sun is your Syllabus.”

An aspirant requires long and persistent efforts to master the subjects/concepts. In the entire process of preparation, apart from exhaustive reading, learning and writing, some behavioural traits or Lifestyle traits are required to make your journey a bit easy and bring you close to being a civil servant. Here is a list of 10 lifestyle traits you need to have. These will definitely take you a long way.

1. Discipline:

Discipline is a trait which is highly revered for any task to be accomplished, especially if the task at hand is too big. Generally aspirants start with great enthusiasm but with time, they lose their vigour and indulge themselves in unwanted activities. One has to plan their course well and most importantly, execute it well. For the planning part, keep two things in mind; One is that make your week of six days instead of seven days. (keep one buffer day) and secondly one should not put too much in their daily plan. (Like reading newspaper, Attending class (if any) and revising the stuff from the class is sufficient in the beginning).

Gradually, as the course progresses, one should include revision loops of the completed subjects. Avoid any types of distractions especially Social media. Once your weekly targets are met, you have the buffer day for your leisure activities. Always remember why you chose Civil Services as a career path and there will be less deviation from the goal.

2. Patience:

“Patience is the key to Success.” This age old saying is very much applicable in preparation for civil services.  As the syllabus is too vast, it becomes difficult to imbibe all the concepts at once. Things will take their own time whether it be mastery over the concepts, ability to interconnect the concepts or developing answer writing skills.

These will not happen overnight. Hence patience will have a major role to play. Always remember that ‘Good things take time’ and clearing this exam is a ‘Great Thing.’ So even if it is taking you long to have a grip over things, invest time in it patiently. You will definitely reap good results.

3. Consistency:

As we read above that things will take their own time, it does not mean that we will wait for the things to happen in our favour. Your consistency of efforts is something which will be the need of the hour throughout your preparation. This exam is quite different from your school or college examination where you studied before (May be one month before the exam or in some cases one or two days were also enough) the exam and you passed it with flying colours.

Some unavoidable discontinuities like your ill health, family gatherings, festivals and such like may come in your way, but always have the knack to bounce back and come back to your routine as soon as you can. Avoid these kind of distractions during crucial phases of your preparation. Consistency in reading newspapers is a must. Try to get in touch with the newspapers even on your off days.

4. Avoid Procastination

As the famous saying by Sant Kabir is “Kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab; Pal me Pralay Hoegi Bahuri karega kab” meaning that whatever one has to do tomorrow, should be done today; whatever has to be done today, should be done now; soon the time would be gone and your life would be over, then what will you be able to achieve.   In context of this exam, aspirants develop a tendency of procrastinating either due to the pressure of meeting the targets or excessive stress.

Remember that your competitors know those concepts which you are procrastinating. And hence they have an edge over you. Keep a pocket diary with you, note down the doubts of the day and in the evening surf the internet to clarify them. Note down the clarifications in the diary as well. After 8-9 months into preparation, maintenance of that diary will be reduced and you will have an edge over your competitors.

5. Optimism:

You need to learn from your mistakes as well as mistakes of others. Let suppose you give sectional or Mock tests and you are not able to perform in two three tests on the go. This should not demotivate you from giving the tests. You should accept the fact that you will be committing mistakes but you should keep this in mind that the same types of mistakes should not be repeated.

An optimistic mindset will enable you to consider your mistakes or shortcomings as ‘Opportunities to Learn.’ Also talk to your mentors about your shortcomings. Take their suggestion and see if it works for you. A good mindset will make your preparation easy.

6. Enjoy the process:

M.S. Dhoni, one of India’s most successful captains of the national cricket team, frequently talks about the process rather than the result. He says that results are important but more important than the result is the process. If we enjoy the process, the chances of results being in our favour increases. The same approach is to be adopted by the aspirants.

Do not stress yourself about the result. Your role is to make efforts in the right direction and leave the rest to your destiny. If any anomalies are found in making the efforts, that will be something which you and only you will be responsible for.

7. Fix your Biological Clock:

Waking up, Sleeping, meal timings should largely be fixed. It is essential to take 6 to 8 hours of sleep in order to feel fresh throughout the day  and retain the concepts well.  Studies suggest that early morning time is the time of maximum efficiency of the brain, so early rising might help.

Aspirants also develop a tendency of ‘Day Dreaming’ as it gives a soothing impact. But strictly avoid it. You will end up wasting time and nothing more than that.

However, some of you might be late night readers. If you feel so, then suggestible is not to continue for the entire night and sleep for the entire day. This impacts your health and brain gradually. You have a marathon preparation so adopt sustainable methods.

8. Eat well:

A balanced diet is very much part of your daily routine.  Good diet will help you gain necessary nutrients required by your body to function in a stressful setup. A good diet will also help you avoid falling sick. Avoid consumption of alcohol, cigarettes or any psychotropic drugs. These are distractions which you don’t need at this time of your life. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.

9. Engage yourself in mild physical activity:

During preparation, you have to study for long hours. Around half your day is spent sitting at one place and studying. You get mentally exhausted but physically you are not exhausted. This might create difficulties in sleep. So the solution lies in mild physical activities whether it be running, walking, or joining a gym. Yoga is also a viable option here since it helps you to relax your mind. You can opt for any option you like. 

10. Avoid flaunting and arrogance:

Aspirants develop a tendency of flaunting their knowledge once they are aware of the topics especially about the ‘Burning Topics’ of Current Affairs. This flaunting leads to arrogance as well. Once arrogance creeps in, your ability to learn new things becomes limited. Remember one thing that Learning is a never ending process.

Once you get into the services, the real learning begins then. But if you develop the habit of flaunting or arrogance creeps in, you will never be able to attain success. You should be very humble and open to learn new things coming your way. You should also help your friends if they are weak in any section.

If I have to say that there is only one factor which will be responsible for your success, I will be wrong. There are multiple factors working simultaneously which will be responsible for your success. These are some of the traits one has to adopt in order to be successful. Don’t worry if you are not able to succeed in the exam. This is not the end of the world for you.

Remember that you have possessed immense knowledge and a knowledgeable person in the present day society will be somehow or the other be successful.  These are view points based on personal experience of the author. If you would like to connect with us for any kind of counselling, you can connect with us on our e mail. All the Best. Take it easy.

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