UPSC is just an examination and you must treat it so.
Dear Aspirants, as you are engrossed in your preparation you must understand that at the end of the day it is just an examination and not a matter of life and death. You should be passionate and creative to crack this examination but should not be burdened by expectations. Innovation and inspiration shall not accompany you unless you behave as a student who is willing to learn. The qualities of a student can only be inculcated once you treat UPSC as just another examination in your life. It is not the first exam that you are appearing for, nor will it be the last. Life will test you in various ways and in multiple situations. Cultivate the qualities of a student, pursue learning. Everything else will fall in place.
Motivate yourself everyday
Students unless you feel motivated about what you are doing, you cannot sustain your efforts, and you are going to give up. Motivation is the fuel that will drive you. Motivation is indispensable for this examination. But the biggest question is how to develop such motivation? Well the answer is very simple-“Put your heart in everything you do”. In this way you will develop interest in the entire journey and you would no longer be result-oriented, rather you would be process-oriented. And that will be the key to success. When you love your job, everyday is a holiday.
Students there would be times in your entire journey when everyone would doubt your abilities or potential. Under such circumstances do not give up. Do not allow yourself to fall into depression and slumber. You might have lost a battle but the war is still on. So do not give up. Swami Vivekananda said the entire universe is in the Human Mind and nothing is impossible for a person who is filled with determination. If you have failed analyse your failure, find out the reasons for the failure rather than blaming a person, event or circumstance. Rectify your mistake and rejuvenate your internal vigour. Self Belief separates the BEST from the rest.
Be disciplined and Work Daily
Discipline is the bridge between dreams and accomplishment. John Maxwell, an American author and speaker, once said-“You will never change your life until you change something that you daily”. Improve your knowledge, polish your concepts and learn on a daily basis. Do daily answer writing practice. Try to read something new daily. Commit new mistakes daily but don’t repeat the old ones. Look for something positive in each day. Your victory lies in your confidence and Confidence comes from discipline and daily training.
Chalk-out a strategy and stick to it
Most of the aspirants fail to develop a disciplined routine because there is no solid strategy to back it. Try to make a time-table of your own and treat it like your constitution. The time table must be yours and not borrowed from others or imposed on you. Try to develop your strategy after deliberation with experts, teachers, successful candidates, friends, parents etc but the remember every student is unique and hence the strategy should be unique. Take a good amount of time to develop a strategy, you can always make amendments to it but you should stick to it and have faith in your planning trust me it will do wonders.
Comprehend, Learn, interconnect and Reflect
When you learn a new topic try to understand the implicit meaning of the topic. Try to read between the lines and beyond the words. Do not rush as you read rather pause and think. Reflect upon what you read. Try to apply your learning. Try to pick some questions, see can you answer them. Try to relate it to other topics or subjects. Relate it with current affairs. When you will repeat this exercise over and over you will gain conceptual clarity and thus your knowledge bank would be enriched.
Build an opinion
You must build an opinion regarding a particular issue. Opinion and analysis are perhaps the two most important traits that UPSC is looking for. You can have any sound opinion but you cannot be opinion-less in this examination. Opinions should be based on logic and reason. They should be cogent and comprehensive. All of this will come with practice.
Make an early start
Do not over-think, once you decide something try to act on it. You may learn en-route. No one can make a fool-proof plan. Every plan will have some issues try to rectify them as you move along. Do not wait for some miracle rather create one.
Have a good mix of resources
Have a good combination of books, notes and other material. Try to follow multiple resources, but not at the same time. Pick the best resource for a particular topic. Use your books like references. Whenever a topic is dealt in more than one book try to make a note of it. Try to use the internet as an augmented resource.
Reach out to fellow aspirants and discuss
Remember interactions can help you learn more. When you will discuss a particular topic with a fellow aspirant he/she can present an altogether new insight or angle of which either you had no prior idea or you missed it. It will promote collective interaction based learning, it will also develop in you competitive and cooperative spirit.
Utilize your spare time effectively
A journalist once asked Michael Jordan, the famous basket ball player what is the reason for his success- He gave a wonderful reply. He said-“When I am not playing the game, I am constantly thinking about my game”. It is his utilization of the spare time that makes him extra-ordinary and separates him from the ordinary. Similarly you must not squander your spare time, rather try to use it for your preparation.