Mahak Swami UPSC IAS strategy AIR 393 (CSE 2019)


Leaving a well settled, good paying job in NCR for an arduous uncertain path ahead can never be easy. Yes, internal motivation can help here, but the uncertainty ahead can give you chills. This article contains my journey, ifs and buts while leaving the job and the final result. I have shared few tips that I thought should help anyone facing the dilemma to quit or not to quit the job.

So for me, it started in 2015. I was halfheartedly preparing for UPSC CSE exam but with zero motivation. I had not done any research and was not even sure of the path. Then, I got selected in much higher paying job in Noida and my motivation sank to below zero. I was hoping for better opportunities in new job, new learning and something that was lacking in my previous job – that is my interest in the work I was doing. But except for learning Badminton and Bhangra, I did not find any interest in the work I was doing. I was now very much sure that engineering is not my cup of tea. Moreover everyday concerns like child labour, beggary were so pinching to my heart that I wanted to do something about it. I did my research and I was almost sure that this is my true calling.

But still, leaving my job to study 8-9 hours everyday was itself a challenge. I could not put everything on stake for an uncertain journey. So I read some articles where toppers have done it with the job. I started to prepare with the job in 2016. But that was not easy for me. I could not ignore my job completely. Instead, I devoted full time for my job, come home tired and give hardly 2-3 hours for preparation. Even on weekends, I was unable to give full time to the preparation. Ignoring all your hobbies, social life and friends was not happening for me. Though I was not prepared, I still wrote prelims in 2016. I got some 80 marks which was beyond my expectations. But 1 thing was clear now, my direction of preparation was right. If I had prepared, I would have cracked the prelims exam. This gave me more motivation. I made some trips with my family and friends right after the prelims. I did a lot of soul searching and finally decided to quit my job and give UPSC a devoted attempt. Moreover, with 3 years of work experience, I had the belief that if I ever want to come back to this industry, it won’t be difficult. It was kind of backup plan for me (back then).

So I quit in 2016 end and came back home to prepare. I had given myself 1 year to crack it. But little did I know that it would take 3 years. But that was because of many mistakes I did in 2016 and 2017 attempts. I knew nothing of MAINS and optional. Can you believe it? Yes I did that! But now after 4 attempts and rank 393, when I look back, I don’t regret even a single decision of mine. Mistakes happen for a good reason. I owned them and that’s why I am very much happy and satisfied today.

Coming back to the topic, these are a few things that would be difficult to compromise while you are in a good job:

  • Job Security
  • Financial Independence
  • Job life – social circle, friends, movies, tours and trips etc.

These are few things that you should keep in mind if you decide to quit:

  • Strong internal motivation that this is what you Truly Deeply Madly want.
  • Be very prepared to give in your all for next 2 years and have that self-belief that YOU CAN AND YOU WILL.
  • Have some kind of backup plan, if you ever need to come back. But trust me, for those who prepare diligently for UPSC, they surely settle down in better jobs.
  • Have some financial security.  Some savings so that you can pay for your books, notes, test series etc. Around 50k-1 lakh for one year, depending upon the number of test series you enroll into. Plus Coaching fees if you wish to take any. So try to have savings. If your family is well-to-do, do not hesitate to ask for money. After all, you shall not compromise on your preparation.  And these days, many of the resources are available for free as well. So don’t worry much about it.
  • Be ready to isolate yourself. You need to stay away from all the distractions. Trips your friends are having, perks, privileges and salary hikes of your colleagues should not bother you at all. You will have them all when you are selected.

If you decide to do it with the job, yes you can, considering

  •  You stay away from all the distractions.
  •   Make a good study routine for yourself. Depending upon your work, take out 3-5 hours everyday and toil harder on weekends(9-10 hours sitting).
  •  Yes, it will be very difficult and overwhelming at times. But when you will be selected, you will look back with a big smile on your face. It will be worth it.
  •   Read/watch toppers strategy who did it with the job. And then make your own strategy. And own it.

So,  All the very best. Whatever decision you take, go with all your heart and you shall succeed. God bless you.