December 22nd, 2018       Civil Services Preparation

After London endured 57 consecutive bombings by the Germans during World War II, Winston Churchill was invited to address a group of students. In that speech, he uttered his immortal line “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up.

UPSC CSE is India’s prime examination. One has to be emotionally and mentally stable apart from doing hard work with full dedication. If one is not motivated from within, it will ultimately affect one’s preparation adversely. While preparing for this prestigious exam one constantly faces pressure of excelling, fear of failure, over expectations by near and dear ones and other personal issues. So question arises what one has to do that will motivate him/her to jump start the preparation with double strength? What one needs to do to feel enthused about following his/her dreams and leaving no stone unturned in their efforts till they reach LBSNAA?

Before going to the ‘HOW’ part of motivation, one must understand the ‘WHY’ part …..

Power of Motivation

Here are some tips which will help one stay motivated on this arduous journey.

Find purpose: Question to self – “Why should I become an IAS officer”? Objectives and aims are one of the best sources of motivation, as they will keep one focused and enable them to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. So, write down the goals; break complex goals into main targets and sub-goals; jot down how you intent to achieve them; visualize the accomplishment of stated objective and what it feels like and finally reward yourself once the goal is reached.

Evaluate yourself regularly: Allocate sufficient time for testing through mock tests on a timely basis. This will act as a feedback mechanism for preparation and help in rectifying mistakes. When one will see progress, it will act as a motivator.

Focus on ‘now’: Invest thoughts in the present. While thinking about the failures in the past leads to depression, too many thoughts about the future will lead to anxiety. If one follows this, the act of preparation itself will become a prime motivator.


Health is wealth: Knowledge is not enough to clear the IAS exam. The recruitment process is designed to test one’s endurance and discipline over a period of 2 years for which motivation is necessary.


Keep Away the Negative Thoughts: Negative thinking affects concentration and reduces tendency to perform well in study as well as in exams. Become independent completely, from thoughts of making parents happy, revenging the exes, saving India from the corrupt, and importantly from the thoughts of gaining huge prestige in the society.

Do What Works the Best for oneself: Finding Study Buddy or Study Alone.

Muhammad Ali Quote

Keep rewarding oneself: A Secret Mantra to Enhance Exam Motivation.

Be your own motivator: Push yourself because, no one else is going to do it for you. Don’t wait for external stimuli.

Make time for the things you love doing: Boredom kills motivation. Don’t forget to pursue your PASSION / HOBBIES / EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. It can be a torturous process to endure a bad movie. The same thing goes with studying. If one enjoys studying, it becomes less work and more something to be enjoyed. Choose subjects that are interesting. Generate interest about topics. Be curious to learn. Treat studies as an opportunity to learn and not as a chore. Curiosity can be a great motivator to keep going.

One should always remember they are not alone: there are others like them. So, awaken, light up hopes and march forward with a resolute step! DEVELOP A WARRIOR MINDSET.

Be prepared to change course: Thomas Edison- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Never shy from doing something new.

Get the help needed: From peers, family, friends or teachers. DON’T HESITATE. Teach each other. Try to make groups.

Listen/Watch/Read inspirational stories of bureaucrats, aspirants etc.

See the Big Picture: There’s a more meta, “Why are we here?” way to think about motivation. The great Jewish Rabbi famously said, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” If one truly lets those words sink in, it’s hard to be slacker. When asked what surprised Dalai Lama most about humanity, he answered, “Man.” Why? “Because, he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Some other points to keep in mind….


AN EXCERPT IS WORTH MENTIONING HERE….Michael Phelps had a vision to beat Mark Spitz’s record of highest number of Olympic gold medals in history. BUT come November, 2007, just before the summer Olympics in Bejing(2008), Michael Phelps fractured his wrist during training. QUESTION AROSE “Will he even be able to compete in the Olympic games at all?” But Michael Phelps thrived on adversity. With renewed passion he designed a kickboard to support his surgically repaired wrist and propelled himself back and forth across the pool again and again without the use of his arms at all. This method of training became his new normal.

Now fast forward to the 100 m fly of the Olympic games in Bejing. It appeared that Michael’s quest for his 7th gold medal will fall short. With less than one lap to go, Michael found himself almost a half body length behind the Serbian powerhouse Milorod Cavic. Michael surged forward turning on the gas using the strength of his powerful new kick shocking the world to finish 1st and win the gold by 1/100th of a second.

After the race, Bob Bowman, Michael’s longtime coach and friend confirmed that had it not been for Michael’s broken wrist. Had it not been for that tremendous set back…. Michael would not have won that race. Michael had won many championships with the sleekness of his freakishly long and powerful upper body. But this injury forced Michael to train differently and not rely on his greatest strength but rather to focus on the weakness of his legs. Michael went on to achieve his goal of 8 gold medals.

Success is not absence of problem, it is overcoming problems. Be like a postage stamp, stick till you reach there.

As the quote above by Benjamin Franklin says, by failing to prepare today, one will be preparing to fail tomorrow. YES it is not as easy as it appears. One goes through hell lot of difficulties during the exam preparation.

BUT REMEMBER…. Winston Churchill: ’if you are going through hell, keep going.

Sonneberg: ‘Once you have made a decision don’t look back, make it work.


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