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MOTIVATION: Failed Last Year and Topped This Year – A Remarkable Journey

If you were a regular follower of this website, chances are that you would have read the below article which was posted last year after 2013 Mains result. 

This article was written by RV – one of our regular followers who used to write on this site regularly. He didn’t clear Mains last year in his first attempt. He hoped to clear it as he had worked extremely hard, but he missed his interview by few marks. Then he wrote the following article for Insights (he was in regular touch with us through email). He asked us to post it anonymously. 

He had ended his article with these words:

This  has helped me to regain the broken pieces and start afresh  for this is the life we all  have chosen , to follow our passions . I have started writing answers again and this time I hope to correct the wrongs , write everyday , rekindle the passion and the self confidence so doused by this failure and begin this journey (again :-) ).”


He did follow his words. Today he has secured All India Rank – 65. He is Raju Mishra, IIT Kanpur alumnus. He will be an IAS officer. If you read the article below, you can sense that India is lucky to get such an officer.

He will be writing another article for Insights outlining his journey from that fateful day when he didn’t clear Mains to the day when he secured Rank – 65 and emerged a winner!


UPDATE: Please Read Latest Article by Raju Mishra on How He Overcome his Failure

Failure : Rock Solid and Icy Cold

By Raju Mishra AIR 65 (Then Anonymous)

Well let me first begin by congratulating fellow peers who are through the Mains’13 and I wish them all the best for the Interviews and now let me turn to my brethren in the true sense , all the rest who have failed in UPSC ’13. And now to the issue at hand :

Failure Rock Solid :

I checked my results thrice it never changed and hit me each time with the same intensity as if being pelted with stones.

Failure Icy Cold :

It made me numb for sometime unable to think / speak / comprehend anything as a matter of fact .

A week it has been since the result came out and the Holi break provided me an opportunity to reflect on my failure ! Hence this article for all those who are wondering “ why” ! This article is for them who wish to know “WHAT NOT TO DO IN UPSC PREPARATION “ OR “ WHAT MAY LEAD TO FAILURE “ ! For those who wish to read what to do to succeed i would pleasantly like to redirect you to Akand’s article and Vinay Sir’s UPSC strategy.

  1. Never think you do not need writing practice

Well this is not what I exactly thought but I had the attitude “ ho jayega “ or “ paper main dekh lenge”. I was very infrequent with my writing practice and used to tell myself the excuse that studying and gaining knowledge was more important . If you donot have the info what good is writing practice going to do , was my ever ready answer to my guilty conscience. Reality is writing practice is as important as studying . It has 3 effects :

  1. Helps you retain things ( believe me it does . I remembered the answers to certain questions which I had written on the website . Since you have already made the effort to formulate the structure of that answer once it really flows smoothly in the exam hall .)
  2. Helps to revise things and learn new things not covered by conventional books
  3. Improves your writing speed , prods u to improve your handwriting and above all develops the ability to think and formulate answers in an efficient way for practice makes you perfect .

I knew all this . And believe me all of us know this but despite it we will make some excuse or the other to not be regular in writing answers beginning from a headache to lack of time to tiredness after back to back coaching etc. Etc. I have been decent at writing , educated from a good Jesuit school and often participating in debates and writing competitions maybe this at times too was an excuse to believe I could “handle “ it . For all with similar backgrounds please don’t think like this and kill your chances . As they say hardwork is all good and appreciated but it really is smart work that shall help you come out with flying colours. Take pride in your writing skills but never be blinded by it .

Moral of the story : the sooner you shed your lethargy the higher the probability of your selection.

  1. Demotivation

If you ask my friends they will always tell you I have always wanted the IAS and IAS only. No placement. No CV building nothing just following my passion through most of my college life . Then why was I demotivated ? Well to tell you all the truth it may not be demotivated but sometimes I lacked the courage to write as I used to see such brilliant answers by some people online like Sahil , Keerthi , Nirmal. This could have been used by me to motivate myself and improve but maybe I chose it as an excuse to not write as frequently as I should have. My lack of knowledge was used in a negative way . As i have harped time and again I used it as an excuse to not write and study more and that was a blunder. Many of you must be starting as freshers and many of you would be repeating. Never ever think just cause you know less or you don’t write as well as others you should not post answers online. Accept it as a challenge to improve to their level and again don’t think by not writing and only gathering knowledge will propel you to that level . You need to study and write it is a symbiotic relation and one reinforces the other J.

Secondly many of us get frustrated very easily . The exam if nothing else teaches you perseverance and patience. However we all want quick results , we want our answers to be brilliant within a week , or know everything in our optional in a month . We often set lofty targets which are very difficult to meet obviously and then get demotivated and think “ mujhse nahin hoga “ , “ kaise hi khatam hoga syllabus “  etc etc. We waste more time thinking than studying / writing . It is a vicious cycle ! We think more , study less , perform badly in mocks , think even more and cycle continues . In th end demotivation and doom.

Realize that this examination is a process that will follow its course , it is slow and hence u need to plan smartly and appropriate to your own ability. Do not compare what your flatmate or friend is doing . You know your abilities , plan realistically and follow it . Nobody can study for 15 hours a day continuously for a year ! Take breaks. Keep yourself motivated. Write at times why you want to be an IAS/IPS/IFS and read it at times when you feel the most low. It gives you a sense of purpose and hopefully shall reignite those passions that has made you choose this difficult yet amazing journey !

  1. Lack of revision

Umpteen times have all of us heard that revision is the most important aspect which determines your performance on the D – day . I alwaz thought that since i had learnt it up things would go really fast and i would be able to revise everything easily . WRONG . FAILURE . revise as much as u can and never leave it all for the last week or just before the exam night . My excuse ? well the same ki yaar I just passed out of college . 5 months better utilise it to gain knowledge , revision will happen very fast if i learn things and understand the concepts religiously. The situation became so dire that i could not revise any subject properly before the mains .

Moral : Keep a day every week where you revise all you have learnt/understood/written. Optional/GS/Current Affairs whatever the case maybe.

  1. UPSC the burden !

A flatmate of mine recently said “ Bhai you may have the knowledge but I did not like one thing about your preparation .” I was like what ? and he said in plain simple tone “ you never enjoyed the process. You took that as a burden and that is why you are in this position”. ( This was 4 days after Mains’13 results )Today when I think of it he is right . I have been wanting this for so long that the months after PRElims seemed to sapped out all my energy and I became the droning groaning aspirant ! I studied . I worked hard .But maybe my attitude was not as positive or cheerful as it should have been .

For every person reading this “ enjoy the process” we are here by choice and not by force . success / failure is not something anybody can be sure of but what we can be sure of is how we guide ourselves through this period .

  1. Never ending breaks

Well my 30 mins of listening to music becomes and hour/1.5 hours . One episode of tv series stretches into 3-4 and football match is followed up by its replays / analysis and press talks . Potion for failure strengthened ! So excuses to not write that time went into this I feel now looking back at things. They seemed innocuous then for I deserved a break if I am studying for 12-14 hours a day but today I see the folly in my logic and how the troika has contributed to my failure. I am not against breaks for they help you to recharge and refresh but do not let it become an excuse to cover your fallacies and do not use it as an excuse for failure that you deserve a movie break as you performed badly in a test and need to vent out the negativity !

I remember watching a Harsha Bhogle talk online. He questioned the audience  as to what do you guys think people mean by 110%, 150% etc. 100% mathematically is the upper limit. And then he explains giving your 100% COMMITMENT to your work to your passion every single day and every single hour till your goal is achieved will translate it giving more than 100% . I know easier said than done but seriously guys people who succeed are indeed that committed. I have a friend who cleared the mains despite being bedridden by jaundice for a month before the mains but even in that condition all I can say it was his commitment and passion that got him through where many freshers /repeaters have failed !

There are n number of mistakes now that I reflect I must have made . Each of us are unique and some of you may know people who have cleared the mains or maybe IAS with flying colours by making ditto mistakes as mine but kindly treat them as exceptions . These 5 mistakes if enter you UPSC life , shall undoubtedly be your Achilles  heel  no matter who you are !
I end my gyaan 😀 with a quote from Rocky Balboa :

It ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

[youtube] This  has helped me to regain the broken pieces and start afresh  for this is the life we all  have chosen , to follow our passions . I have started writing answers again and this time I hope to correct the wrongs , write everyday , rekindle the passion and the self confidence so doused by this failure and begin this journey (again 🙂 ).


Link To The Original Article

Links to His Answer, Essay, Comment

UPDATE: Please Read Latest Article by Raju Mishra on How He Overcome his Failure