Let me take this opportunity to encourage you if you have decided to walk the challenging journey of becoming an IAS Officer. Since you are reading this article I can assume that you are preparing to write civil services. Leave alone preparation, even it takes a lot even to dream of attempting this examination. For I have seen many people saying that UPSC Exam Preparation is not my cup of tea so they did not dare to even write this examination. Such is the fear among the students which is not based on hollow grounds. This exam is a big challenge. It takes at least a year to prepare and may go on for years depending on your preparation and fortune in this roller coaster ride. This is a testing journey in the sense that it will push you to the core and beyond your limits every day.
The perseverant ones hold their ground firmly while the weaker ones concede defeat. Because this exam will test your persistence and self-belief every day. Your journey will be full of difficulties. You will face some dark times and would want to give it up. You would have to deal on your own despite having people around because not always people would understand what you are going through. Those tough times would tend to break you from within and force you to succumb.
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If you don’t have that inner resistance and resilience, then it’s natural to succumb to circumstances. To have that resilience, you must motivate yourself every day. No one else would do it for you as external motivation does not last long but the inner one does. In this process, the most important relationship will be the one that you have with yourself. You must take care of yourself. You would be required to find solace from within. This requires you to do certain things which sustain the inner motivation within you. I am going to discuss below how you can remain motivated in this rigorous, arduous, and challenging journey of becoming an IAS.
Seek that Inner Motivation
At the outset, I would like to make it clear that Motivation can be either external or internal. First, an External motivation which you may get by listening to inspiring speeches, meeting successful persons, watching some moving videos or through any such external influences which give you a kick to do something which you feel passionate about. But as have been proved that, external motivation is not long lasting and fades away soon. Sharing my personal example, in the beginning as I started the preparation in a full-fledged way, I used to attend preparation related seminar by coaching institutes.
In these seminars, many motivation was injected through powerful speeches, successful candidate’s interaction, sharing life examples and so on. After getting back home, I used to feel very motivated and thus used to study a lot for a few days. But efficiency would decline after a week or so and I started realizing that, those were not able to keep me motivated beyond a point of time. Because those motivations were not able to move me from within and were impacting me merely externally. Later I developed a source of my own inner motivation which finally sailed me through the rigor of preparation.
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Above is the reason I always emphasize that aspirant must develop the source of inner motivation. By this, I mean that you should not be required to look for external motivation. Whenever you feel like you are not enjoying the preparation and has started losing focus, it implies that you must look within. You must ask yourself “why you started the preparation”? In this preparation, if there is one person you would be talking the most, that person is none other than you. You must develop that relationship with you where you feel free to talk to yourself whenever you feel like lost in the preparation process.
If you raise the pertinent questions, I assure you would start getting back on the track. Do you have to ask questions like “Is becoming IAS worth all these rigorous efforts? Am I doing what must be done to become IAS? Why did I decide to become an IAS at the very first instance? Is Will becoming IAS give a purpose to my life? What do I want to do with my life? Am I doing everything needed to fulfill the dreams of my life”?
These questions would force you to think and talk to yourself. You will get the reply from within and that is what would push you to perform the right action. Inner motivation is nothing but the kick that you get from within to get going. If you are stuck on the path unable to move forward, then you must get rid of those mental blocks. That requires knowing yourself and this exam will enable you to know your inner self well. And once you awaken this source of inner motivation than half the job is done.
But You must become an expert in this art of self-motivation slowly because this journey would desperately need this often. And this is one quality you will find most common among all successful candidates. If they could manage to cross the line in this arduous journey, then many credits go to their inner motivating potential. This is such a journey that many times things would go exactly the opposite way you expected it to. That may seem to be cruel but that’s how life goes on.
But many don’t have the resilience to do it as they failed to get that kick of inner motivation. If you want to face the difficulties of life without being bogged down, then start becoming your own motivator. If you can motivate yourself in the toughest of times, you can do anything in life.
This exam is a tough nut of crack and would test your number of times. So be prepared to seek that inner motivation to get going against all odds. That would sail you through in not just this examination but through thick and thin of life with ease.
Burning The Fire Within
Once you have jumped into the battleground of UPSC exam preparation then you should always think about winning the battle. For that, you would be required to improve every day to become the better person than yesterday. That would require tremendous commitment on your part along with serious efforts. Your mind should be occupied with the thoughts of your dreams and the successful execution of that. Even when you are not studying but you should be thinking ways to improve quality of your preparation. Because the more you remain engaged with your dreams the more you would feel passionate to achieve that. I do not mean that you should stop doing everything else in life such as playing cricket, watching games, going out with friends etc. as these would rejuvenate you, but you should try to be as connected with your dreams as possible.
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This exam should become a part of you and you must devote yourself in the preparation as if there is no tomorrow. That should be the level of determination to understand something clearly at last of the day in this examination. Always keep reminding yourself that you are on a mission for a greater cause. That would give the purpose to your life so that is worth all the rigor to be faced. you must have the fire within to nail this examination. But you should also keep fuelling that fire through inner motivation, external support and other means which suits you best. Stay focused, go after your dreams, and keep moving towards your goal. But with hard work, there are no limits.
Why do you want to become an IAS?
If there is one thing which would motivate you more than anything else in this exam, then that is this question. You must keep asking yourself this question on a regular basis. Because every time you will find a different reply from within. There cannot be one answer to this but there would be a strong cause being underlying basis of all answers. You will realize that slowly and start appreciating as well. That cause would become your propelling force in this journey.
Whenever you feel low during preparation or negative thoughts creep into the mind, you should talk to yourself raising this question. During tough times, I used to say to myself “I have to become an IAS not just for myself but for my motherland, for my society and my family. I must do something for the poor & unprivileged, illiterates, orphans, women, destitute, especially abled and such people in this country who are dependent on the government to an extent for a better living. I may fail in this journey but I must try my best because I have nothing to lose but everything to gain.” That was my motivating talk with self.
Beginning the day on the right note
Every day is a new day and we shall be thankful to understand something clearly at last of the day every another day. But the day must begin on a positive note as the beginning sets the tone for the entire day. If you begin the day with a positive mindset, cheerful mood and by talking with self then you are going to do things efficiently. You may start the day with short duration meditation or some physical exercise, that would help you be calm, active, and efficient for the rest of the day. Please don’t let any negative thoughts come to you as you start the day. Train your mind to avoid such thoughts for they will come.
You should take small breaks in between study hours to rejuvenate yourself. Don’t keep sitting for a long duration on study table as efficiency and concentration would come down. In those small breaks try to be constructive and don’t engage yourself with sources of distraction. Interact with people who can add value to you, motivate you and can help you become a better person. Talk to your loved ones for they would keep you in the right frame of mind. Start the day thinking about your dreams and finish the day with that sense of satisfaction that you have done enough in the day to get closer to your dreams. And remind yourself every morning that, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work”.
Take Inspiration from people
I want you to know that what can be the biggest source of your inspiration. For me, someone who comes from a typical Indian lower-middle-class family, Inspiration was always my father. He despite being educated could not get a job and had to struggle throughout life for the sake of livelihood. As I grew up I saw him doing activities which I used to feel very sad about. But he was doing all these to give the best education to his kids. Throughout his life, he suppressed his own desires because fulfilling them would have compromised with our education. briefly, he sacrificed his own life to give a quality life to us.
But he believed in the power of education and he wanted to give us, the greatest wealth in form of education. That I must do something worthwhile was always on my mind. If he could do so much without the resources at his disposal, then I must not let him down having received the opportunity to prepare for this examination. This used to keep the fire within me burning to crack this exam. He was a constant source of inspiration throughout the difficult UPSC exam preparation journey and continues to be so.
Now, what I wanted to illustrate from my example was, that we are so desperate and may be many times rightly so, that we start looking for inspiration in the outside, the external world, when it is always there, around us. Not just your parents, you will have people who have believed in you, just think of them, you will get the strength, you will have people who gave it all for you, just think of them, you will rise again, and, if nothing works, consider the mirror, that person, yes, he believes in you when you began, if you stop or give up, you will fail him. Trust me, you can fail anyone and live peacefully but not him.
This journey is neither going to be a cakewalk nor it is meant to be so. You must be prepared to face all sorts of adversities because they will come for sure. But you must remain motivated all the times. Believe me, this exam would not test your academic brilliance beyond a point but would test your perseverance, adaptive skills, courage, positivity and never say die attitude to name the few. Your own self-confidence would be the strongest weapon with you in this journey. Please never let that go away from you. You should do things which motivate you from within rather just externally. You may read motivational quotes (Brainy Quotes), Watch inspiring speeches, read biographies of great persons to keep yourself motivated. These would give you a push when feeling low during preparation.
I would suggest you interact with poor people whenever possible, as that would make you realize the suffering of others and why you must work hard to crack this exam would also become more clear. occasionally you should travel to a destination because traveling has been a proven stress booster and rejuvenates one. Also, you would appreciate the diversity around, get to know the problems of people and would start appreciating the journey rather the destination. That is equally important in civil services, as your focus must be on enjoying the preparation journey rather thinking about the results. Because if you can dream it, then you can achieve it.