#2 Civil Services and The Real Game: Conquering the battle in the Mind

I want to tell my readers at the outset that this post, this article in continuity of the last one, is not supposed to be your motivation. It should not be. And there is a reason for it.

There is a lot of difference between Motivation and Discipline. Motivation may start you off, help you on a given day, in a given moment; but Discipline – the Habit, my darling, is what me and you should be looking for, striving for, working for.

“Inspiration is for amateurs”, said Chuck Close, “the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Last week, I was reading a query sent to me by a gentleman – via email – in which he told me that this was his fourth attempt to the exam, and asked how should he take out the fear of failure out of his mind? Aah, that, my mind said in a nostalgic tone. I think this is a question that a lot of us had/have, but we deal with it in different degrees of resilience.

Look, nobody told you that studying for Civil services was going to be a piece of cake. We all know the competition, we know the syllabus and we know that there is an opportunity cost to doing this in life, no matter what your age. We know that there is no definite answer to whether or not we will go through this exam. What happens if we fail? What happens to our image in the society, what happens to our image in our own eyes?

Yogesh dada – an amazing doctor I met at an NGO, told me once that so many times we look up and the problem is so big that the magnitude of it – the sheer volume of difficulties, problems and obstacles – makes us unconscious. And then, if we aren’t conscious, there is no one standing to solve the problem!

What, then, is the solution? Is there even one?

Now, metaphorically, let us assume that if you have to walk the road up to LBSNAA, it is a journey of 50,00,000 steps.  Maybe it is less or more for you depending on where you are starting from. All you have to do, each day, is to get up and walk 50 steps. And remember that every time you think of the entire long journey, you lose focus of what is in sight and you will end up walking only 10. That isn’t what we want, right? Have the discipline – no matter what happens, you walk 50 steps. Listen to me, my dear. You cannot question your effort, your decisions, your central beliefs every day and every moment. You made a choice, now lock it, put it in a tiny little corner of your mind, and throw the key away. Once you do that, you forget the destination and the distance – you remember only the hard work that you need to do each day. Get up in the morning – work – sleep. Repeat each day until you finish the 50,00,000 steps.

What if I fail? So you fail. What? Really, so what? The world will run, and you wouldn’t believe me now, but so will your life. You will find something amazing to do in your life – something that will be purposeful, joyous and deeply satisfying. And you know why? Because you fought with your fears instead of giving in to them. What you should be really afraid of are the regrets. Those, will haunt you for your life.

One day, when I was walking back from the library to my house, I was very depressed. I though it is better that I give up because there is no way possible this will happen. I mean, look at me, haven’t read a newspaper in ten years and I want to give the IAS exam! But then my mind drifted towards the alternate version of my life. I thought if I give up, how would I ever tell my children or students to never give up in life? How will I ask them to dream radically and work hard in the face of every possible adversity? What if I was supposed to be a writer or a journalist or a social worker and that would not be possible without preparing for this exam or experiencing everything it brings along with it? You cannot give up now, Mittali, I told myself when I opened the door of my house.

This was one brave moment of my life. There were many weak ones. I battled with a lot of self-doubt. I battled with two failures. Many people around me thought I can never do it. Some were indifferent, some very supportive. But there was only one best friend I had. That was me.

You have got to be your own saviour. In Civil services, as in life, the real battle is taming your mind. You know, your mind is going to listen to only you. When I try to tell it something, it laughs. But you – my God! You wonderful being! Your mind worships what you say. It thinks you are this amazing person who it will follow blindly, no questions asked. What did you just say? That no matter what, you will find a way? Well, your mind is on it! It will not leave a single stone unturned to fulfil your wishes. Did you say it is not possible? Your mind is happily going to fulfil your prophecy!

Train your most prized follower, your mind. Stop it when it drifts. Calm it when it is angry. Ask it to be at peace with itself. There is contentment not in achievement, my dear, there is contentment in hard work. You get to have that – take it with open arms and an open mind. You are so lucky!

A few things that I want to say : (in addition to the lengthy things I just said:D)

  1. Until this fight is not over, it is not over. Nobody cares whether it is your third attempt or thirtieth. If you are enjoying the journey, who cares? Don’t compare your effort with someone else’s. In this exam, everyone begins from a different starting point. It might take you longer to reach there, but Persist!
  2. Try taking up a job after a few attempts and study with it so that it makes you less anxious and less insecure.
  3. If you are in a job already, well, let me tell you it can give you many advantages. More about this, in the next article where I want to take up Civil services and Working professionals relationship. (I cleared while I was working.)
  4. If you are not working, don’t be complacent. It is very easy to think you have too much time and then you wile away all that time in that happiness. Don’t be that person.
  5. SHUT OFF social media. I was not on Facebook, or twitter or Instagram. No WhatsApp groups strictly. I only had WhatsApp for individual chats – only because it saved me money! More on this, in a separate article.

I know you think this is difficult. I won’t give you false hopes, it is. I know you think you have very little chance. I agree with you, but I have one last thing to tell you before I sign off. I read it somewhere, and this kept me going every time I thought how would this ever happen. This also told me that motivation will not sustain me, discipline will.

“You have one in a million chance of going through and getting what you wish to. But you don’t look at the million. You look at that one chance, you focus on only that one.”

Discipline, Persistence, Faith, Self belief, and a Straight line focus, my warriors! You are all you need and You are amazing!

Advertisements

75 thoughts on “#2 Civil Services and The Real Game: Conquering the battle in the Mind

  1. This is so Inspiring.Always was instilled by people that it is an exam for the meritorious and from elite institutes,toppers with great academic background.

    You simplified everything and made me Believe In Myself That This can be done

    Thank You So Much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Didi(if I can call you that)!

    1- I absolutely love the title of your blog.

    2- Even though I am not preparing for UPSC(my sister is), this article gave me a renewed insight on how to go about the challenges of life.

    3- I’ll come back for more.😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Civil Services and a Job - Chasing your dreams while working: Mittali Sethi AIR 56, UPSC CSE 2016 - INSIGHTS

  4. Thank you madam Seriously this article pushed me ahead in my thoughts of clearing one of the toughest exams while working. I accidentally came across this blog. Had a really good read.

    Looking forward for the next pearls of wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The best part. –
    “Motivation may start you off, help you on a given day, in a given moment; but Discipline – the Habit, my darling, is what me and you should be looking for, striving for, working for.”
    Thanks for the inspiring article maam

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks a lot for this wonderful article mam.being a working professional I found this article truly motivating and cleared many of my doubts.will go ahead with my preparation without any fear of losing..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mam!
    All these days I was questioning myself for motivation….
    Thanks for letting me realize that ,it is the Disipline that lacks in me…
    It really helps…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks a lot MAM for such a wonderful motivation. Could you please tell me what should I do to reach a decent level of answer writing as I think level of mine is not so good… Pls comment on this mam… I would be highly obliged to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful piece of writing ma’am!! I have been preparing for upsc for the last one year as a working professional in government sector. 2018 would be my last attempt so it’s like ambition in one hand and poison in other (of course not to suicide 🙂 ) to end the journey of upsc. I have been looking for a mentor like you and by god’s grace I found you thanks to insights. I hope you will keep adding fuel to burning desires of aspirants like us.
    Thanks a lot ma’am 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mittali di ? Are you kinda angel or something , no I Seriously want to know.
    I had such a long day with test discussion for 5 hours at a stretch and a GS 3 mock , I was drained and lost, the horrible paper I gave!

    And I get to read this 🙂

    Thank you di! You know this means more than just thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a awesome quoete it is !!! Discipline-the habit, my Darling. Who can dare to say Darling to discipline? Mam, You are such a wonderful creation of god. You are so honest because you are replying to each & every comment, also through every mail of individuals. What a amazing thought process you have !!! Please be stay with us in this long & beautiful journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you very much for writing this wonderful article. Few of the lines that touched me immensely are copied below. Some of thoughts that are deep rooted in one’s mind but wont come out, had brought out by this article of yours.

    Thanks once again for your enlightening words.

    “Listen to me, my dear. You cannot question your effort, your decisions, your central beliefs every day and every moment. You made a choice, now lock it, put it in a tiny little corner of your mind, and throw the key away. Once you do that, you forget the destination and the distance – you remember only the hard work that you need to do each day.”

    “I thought if I give up, how would I ever tell my children or students to never give up in life? How will I ask them to dream radically and work hard in the face of every possible adversity?”

    “You have one in a million chance of going through and getting what you wish to. But you don’t look at the million. You look at that one chance, you focus on only that one.”

    “Discipline, Persistence, Faith, Self belief, and a Straight line focus, my warriors! You are all you need and You are amazing!”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Respected Ma’m….
    I read your article every time i feel down and under confident….
    I kept reading interviews of toppers for motivation but after I read your blog, I have become slightly calm and composed , silently preparing for UPSC, without thinking much about the result & failure.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful article.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Conquering the battle in the mind – Ashish Ranjan's Blog

  15. Ma’am i am your biggest fan on the earth. I really love you . Your words are like those sent by god to me.
    And what all you write is like you are standing in front and conversing with me.
    I would love to meet you in future. Thanks for this motivation. love you

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you so much Didi for clearing things for me. I’m a working woman who was really confused regarding how to go about achieving my dream.. But your article truly inspired me and has also squarely hit the nail on the head.
    Congratulations on your success!! 😃😃

    Like

  17. Thank you ma’am for this article as it has really overturned my perspective of this exam. I was filled with a lot of fear, self doubt and what not that I’m sure, most of the aspirants feel similarly. Being stuck in a viscous cycle of over-thinking whether I’m doing the right thing or did I make an extremely ambitious decision, your article has been the light, showing me the way.
    I’m sure I’m coming back to reading this when I feel astray during the course of preparation.
    Thank you so much & Kudos to you! 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s