If you want to succeed

This is an extract from a post Mrunal Bhai have written last year, its very motivating and every word of it is so true, around 40 days is left for Prelims 2015 , do read this.

AS IT IS from his post 

There is a saying “Praarambhe shoora Gujarati. ” (प्रारम्भे शूरा गुजराती)

Meaning, Gujarati people are enthusiastic only in the beginning, for any project. (MINUS a few exceptions like Gandhi vs British and Modi vs Congress party).

  • But this proverb applies to majority of UPSC candidates irrespective of their domicile state.
  • Everyone has booklist, Hindu and a few kilos of (authentic or XEROXED) coaching material. Then why can’t everyone clear prelims?
  • Because their enthusiasm vanishes after a few weeks. Then remaining time is spent daydreaming, changing Profile pics on Whatsapp & Facebook, randomly surfing internet or DishTV channel, whining about DP Agrawal on online forums, and virtually making no progress in learning any topic.
  • Hindu papers get piledup on your desk (or in feedly), economic survey PDF is only for downloading and not reading. After single reading halfhearted reading of Laxmikanth- you think you’re master of polity. You’ve bought 4-5 different books on geography, yet fumble answering even one MCQ, you’ve gathered 20-30 mock test papers from various institutes and yet cannot solve one data interpretation set without making silly calculation mistakes….and so on.
  • Then comes another bank, SSC or state service exam, so focus is shifted. You begin gathering new material for it, BUT there too, your enthusiasm vanishes after few weeks.
  • Ultimately situation becomes similar to a “dhobi kaa kuttaa”. You neither clear UPSC nor you clear any Non-UPSC exams.
  • Like this, 2-3 years are wasted. Then you’ve to pick a private sector job, but it’s really difficult to prepare while on job given the stress, fatigue and travel. Although, now your ‘purchasing power’ has increased, so again the vicious cycle of “gather material-loose momentum-fail in exam” continues.
  • In your heart, you know you’re not going to clear exam with this attitude. But you just keep fondling a teenage fantasy hoping for a divine intervention & “luck by chance”.
  • And like this, your entire 20s youth life is wasted.
  • Point being- Weapons alone don’t win the war. Hard work, Perseverance and Faith are necessary. There are no secret books or tips that only you’ll gather and no one else can. And even if there is a magical secret book from where all 100 MCQs are going to come, still it’s useless unless you revise it minimum 4-5 times.
  • Yes, even with best preparation, Not every one of you will become an IAS/IPS/IFS, because the number of seats are limited. Still there has to be at least one (UPSC/non-UPSC) exam where you can make a decent score to brag in front of your neighbors, relatives and kids. Otherwise you’ve wasted your jawaani for nothing.

In the end

Poster Milkha Singh last race
Paki coach:

Milkha Singh, this could prove to be the last race of your life.

(Because our champion Abdul Khaliq will win, and you’ll have to retire in shame.)

Milkha Singh:

I’ll also run like that (as if it is the last race of my life.)

Five Simple Back-to-School Study Hacks

Over the next three months, you’re going to be using your brain very much to learn stuff. So it would be a good idea to know how your brain really works.

(And to be clear, the goal of all this is NOT so that you can spend more time at your desk. It’s so that you can get your work finished quickly and then go do something truly important.

Anyway, the thing about your brain is that it’s a little bit like that jar of lightning bugs. It was built by evolution, so it has all these twitchy, surprising features that helped your ancestors not get stepped on by mastodons and avoid falling into quicksand or getting lost in the woods. It was built for survival, not algebra.

So here are five quick hacks for your brain that will help you study better. They’re drawn from a variety of scientific sources, including a terrifically useful and insightful new book called How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens, by Benedict Carey.

Hack #1: Space out your study time.

Let’s say that have a Spanish test on Friday, for which you need to spend about an hour preparing. Should you:

A) study Thursday night for one hour; or

B) study 20 minutes a day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday?

The answer is: B). And it’s not even close. In fact, studies show you could probably get away with studying only about 10 or 15 minutes a day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, because spacing out your study time is nearly twice as effective as cramming. It also helps you retain it a lot longer — which comes in handy for that Spanish test next month, and the one after that.

The reasons for this have to do with your brain’s tendency to get way less interested in stuff that gets repeated a lot over a short amount of time (i.e., cramming) and to get way more interested in stuff that it faintly remembers and can connect in different contexts. So, study the same way you snack: frequently, in small portions.

Hack #2: Switch up your study locations.

 We’re often told that we should stay in one place to learn, but that’s not true. Your brain likes to use settings like a Hollywood director; it uses them in the movies that make up your memory. So if you study and test yourself lots of places, play different kinds of music, wear different clothes, even chew different-flavored gum, your memory will improve.

Hack #3: Mix it up.

School is orderly, so we instinctively think our studying schedule should also be orderly — you know, study math for an hour, then English for an hour. This is called “blocked practice,” and it makes perfect sense, except for one small fact: your brain doesn’t like blocked practice. What your brain likes instead is “interleaved practice,” where you study something for 10 minutes, then switch to something else, then come back.

The reasons for this are complicated, but they’re based on the fact that your brain works better when it’s being surprised. When you mix it up, you’re forcing your brain to work harder, and be more efficient.

(This also works in sports and music, by the way. If you want to get better at volleyball serves, mix up the type of serve you practice. And if you want to get better at playing classical music and rock, you should switch between the two all the time. Which could sound kind of awesome.)

Hack #4: Get outside.

 Your brain was built in the outdoors, so you need to let it get back there regularly. Nobody knows why being outside and walking around helps you get smarter, but it does. Check out this study of third-graders that shows how a 20-minute walk can light up the areas of the brain that filter out distraction and guide focused attention (talk about lightning bugs!)


Hack #5: Throw away your highlighters– instead, make a habit of testing yourself.

We all know that school involves some memorization. The usual technique is to read a chapter over and over, highlight important passages, and maybe write notecards — you know the drill. Besides, it’s kind of fun to highlight (and yes, that yellow ink does smell fantastic).

But it turns out that those techniques are not nearly as effective as testing yourself. Here’s how: read a passage once, close the book, and then try to write the main points on a blank piece of paper. Then check yourself and see how many you got right.

In other words, don’t lean back in your chair. Instead, lean forward, and generate ideas. Shake the jar, and make the lightning bugs glow. Make your brain work the way it was designed to work — by reaching, struggling, and reaching again.

Article written by Daniel Coyle Author of wonderful books like Talent Code and Little Book of Talent in which he explains scientifically how brain works and how you can maximize your potential, its not self help its science.

Why Saving Work for Tomorrow Doesn’t Work

Do you frequently tell yourself that you’ll do better “next time” and then don’t change when the time comes? Do you often decide to do something “later” only to find that it never gets done?

If you answered “yes” to either one of these questions, you’re probably ignoring the fact that your behavior today is a strong indicator of your behavior tomorrow.

This is an article by Elizabeth Grace Saunders for HBR, I thought this is extremely relevant for all  UPSC aspirants as most of us tend to procrastinate,read this article in upsc perspective like where ever you see job,office and presentation replace it with reading and completing syllabus this article makes mores sense .

You’re not alone. In The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal shares how, in a research study, participants were much less likely to exert willpower in making healthy choices when they thought they would have another opportunity the following week. Given the option of a fat-free yogurt versus a Mrs. Field’s cookie, 83% of those who thought they’d have another opportunity the following week chose the cookie. In addition, 67% thought they would pick yogurt the next time, but only 36% made a different choice. Meanwhile, only 57% of the people who saw this as their only chance indulged.

The same pattern of overoptimism about the future held true in a study about people predicting how much they would exercise in the future. When asked to predict their exercise realistically — and even faced with cold, hard data about their previous exercise patterns — individuals were still overly optimistic that “tomorrow would be different.”

Eating and exercise habits are all well and good, but as an expert in effective time investment, I’ve seen too many individuals procrastinate at work because they think, “I’ll get a lot done later.” Unfortunately, banking on future time rarely aligns with productive results. This mindset leads to unconscious self-sabotage because individuals are not taking advantage of the opportunity to get tasks done right now, and when later comes, they find themselves feeling guilty, burned out, and frustrated. They fall back on their habits to put work off, and it doesn’t get accomplished.

This pattern of behavior appears on the job when the only thing you accomplish during the day is answering email because you assume you’ll work better later when no one else is the office. But after everyone’s left at the end of the day, you’re too tired to think straight and just go home without getting anything done. Or it shows up when you choose to not make any progress on a project in small windows of time available because you’re waiting for an open day to knock it out all at once. That day never comes, leaving you scrambling at the last minute. Or it can spring up when you say “yes” to every meeting invite and leave no time to do actual work. Then you wonder why you feel like you’re always frantically working and never have time to relax.

Unless you make a conscious effort to change your behavior, poor time management today will only lead to poor time management tomorrow. Consider these two approaches to dramatically increase your productivity.

Eliminate future options. If you have a tendency, like many overwhelmed individuals, to tell yourself that that you’ll get your important work done later — maybe at night or on the weekend — you increase your chance of procrastination during the day. In truth, you can find it difficult to efficiently get things done later because you feel tired and resentful of the fact that you never have any guilt-free downtime. To overcome this psychological loophole, you need to eliminate the option to do something later.

First, challenge yourself to find specified times during your workday to complete your commitments. Look at your project list and estimate approximately how long it will take you to get certain items done. For example, if you have a presentation at the end of the month, determine how long it will take you to gather the information, put together the presentation, review it with your team, and run through it. Then assign specific times in your schedule between now and the presentation for you to complete each piece. This approach of fusing your to-do list with your calendar will help you realize that if you don’t move ahead on key projects, you will run out of time. There’s no option to simply do the work tomorrow because tomorrow has a new set of tasks assigned to it.

In addition, eliminate free time after hours. If you see an open window on your calendar, you’ll be tempted to put off work, knowing there’s an opportunity later — even if that cuts into personal time. Instead, fill that time with personal commitments. This could mean going out to dinner with a friend, spending the evening at your kids’ soccer game, going to the gym, or moving ahead a side project. By determining what you want to do outside of the office, you motivate yourself to make the best use of your time during the day so that you don’t need to cancel your evening commitments.

Reduce variability in your schedule. If you justify surfing the Internet most of the day because you tell yourself that you’ll work nonstop later, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. When you do attempt to tackle that work, you’ll either feel so guilty about your lack of productivity that it will distract you from the task at hand, or you’ll push yourself so hard that you’ll burn out.

Fortunately, there’s a way to outsmart your mental tricks. Studies done by behavioral economist Howard Rachlin show that smokers told to reduce variability in their smoking behavior — to smoke the same amount of cigarettes each day — gradually decreased their overall smoking, even though they were not told to smoke less. By focusing on the fact that if they smoked a pack of cigarettes today, they would need to smoke a pack the next day and the next, they found smoking that pack less appealing.

You can apply the same principle to motivate effective time management. Instead of telling yourself, “It’s OK if I surf the Internet for half the day because I’ll get so much done later this week,” ask yourself this question: “Do I want to surf the Internet for half the day for the rest of my life?” Your answer will probably be, “Of course not. That would be a waste of time.” You can then decide to dedicate that chunk of time to something more productive on a regular basis. Choosing to work the same amount each day with little variation on your schedule takes away the mental loophole that allows you to escape from getting things done now.

Using the present moment wisely instead of banking on time in the future can help you stay committed to your goals. If you have a project at work you’ve avoided for months or some languishing expense reports to file, think about how you can apply these strategies to move forward on those items today.

[Motivation] Finding your peer group

Your peer group are people with similar dreams, goals and worldviews. They are people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth.

They’re not in your business, but they’re in your shoes.

Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a regular schedule, might be the single biggest boost your career can experience.

Wake Up Before It’s Too Late

You are watching lots of movies; you are reading lots of other stuff – news articles, novels, magazines etc; you are on phone most of the time; you may be quarreling a lot with girlfriend/boyfriend, parents and siblings; you are daydreaming a lot; or you may be just sleeping too much.

But you are not reading the books that matter in clearing the UPSC civil services exam despite dreaming day and night about becoming an IAS officer.

You want to read a lot. You want to make notes. You want to start answer writing practice. Yet, these are not happening. Days are being spent on doing things that do not help you succeed.

The fact is that you are doing these things to escape from your own fears. You are scared about pending works. You are scared about doing something that you haven’t done  before. You are scared about the result because you may be thinking that you would be never able to match the score of toppers. Or you may be just scared about the UPSC and its seemingly ‘uncertain’ behaviour!

You waste time not because you are fond of wasting it, it’s because you want a safe hiding place from so many responsibilities. Last night you decided to make notes from The Hindu, but today you read the same paper for 3 hours yet failed to make notes. Instead, you wasted whole day watching movies because you felt bad about not making notes; or you just told yourself that you would do it tomorrow because there is still plenty of time left.

Funny thing is that you know time once gone is gone forever. You try to console yourself by postponing your tasks. You think you are ‘buying’ time, but you don’t realize that you are ‘burying’ the time. You are burying the future.

But why are you wasting time?

Some aspirants assume that they can give the exam next year by preparing very well this year. This feeling gets stronger as the Prelims approach. This is one of the reasons why only less than 50 per cent of applicants write Preliminary exam every year.

You are wasting time because you think that you have plenty of time. Because you think that you have still got many attempts. Because your confidence level is very low. Because you have lots of pending things to complete.

Things go on accumulating because you waste your time doing tasks that in no way help you achieve your goal. The more you procrastinate, the more your confidence levels hit the bottom.

Even if you have got only 30 days for the exam, start preparing today. Don’t worry if you succeed this time or not, things you do seriously today would help you tomorrow.

If you go on postponing your tasks, I can guarantee you that you will do the same in your next attempt too.

Don’t worry how less you have studied till now. Don’t worry how much pending work you have. You must start studying now.

Just take a pen and write an answer. Solve a problem or two. Read a chapter or two from your optional subject.

Do it for 4 hours. Your confidence will be back. Try it if you are serious about getting a rank.

All you need is a genuine START. Then accelerate. Know your speed. Sustain the momentum. Always realize that the hours you waste today would cost you tomorrow.  Once you realize that you are wasting time for no reason, you will start focusing on your goal. Realize it now.

You have sacrificed a lot to prepare for this exam. You have come far away from your home. You have pent 2-3 years for this exam without a job experience. There is no point in wasting time. You have to get a rank. And ranks don’t come if you keep on procrastinating your plans.

One key to sustain your momentum is to love what you do. Once you start well, your confidence soars. When your confidence is good, the mind is relaxed. The more you are relaxed the better will be your performance in your studies and exams.

It’s just a starting problem, or a ‘restarting’ problem. Wake up now and start again. No one can stop you except yourself. A start should be such that you should stop only at the doorstep of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration.

No matter where you stand today irrespective of your levels of preparation, start now.

As Prelims are nearing, it’s better to start with brushing up your basics again. Solve lots of questions. Don’t worry about the past. If you do more now, the past will slowly melt away.  Get busy with exam related stuff. Start enjoying this journey. Remember, once you start, your stop should be at the LBSNAA.

Good Luck.

This is shared to help the reader give some boost in the preparation just before exam.The First post is written by Seth Godin and second is written for Insights of India [I loved it ,hence shared it ,Full credit to them].


Atlas Shrugged the man who refuses !

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life.”

Atlas Shrugged

“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.”

Swami Vivekananda

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life think of it, dream of it, live on idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.