In our attempt to help you out with the study routines and time tables, we’ve encountered numerous questions such as: What’s the optimal timeline for completing xyz”, “What’s the optimal strategy for attempting prelims questions”, “When’s the best time to start answer writing” etc. etc.
Let’s park aside our immediate UPSC related concerns for a bit and understand the issue at hand.
The Danger of Aiming for Perfection
On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.
Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.
Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.
At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group.
Amused? Or did you see this coming?
Perfectionism is not as an ideal, but rather as an unhealthy motivation that can negatively compete with your ability to make your mark.
Coming back to the problem at hand, the UPSC preparations, when faced with such questions, we try to explain that you need to start working from this day onwards and we will work with you.
But in all earnestness, here’s the mantra:
Start With Repetitions, Not Goals
It’s not the quest to achieve one perfect goal that makes you better, it’s the skills you develop from doing a volume of work. Time and again, we have emphasized on your ability to persevere as the key to cracking and eventually breaking the glass ceiling (aka, the UPSC exam)
In other words, when you think about your goals, don’t just consider the outcome you want. Focus on the repetitions that lead to that place. Focus on the piles of prelims questions (students of our test series will understand this better) that you attempt before arriving at the optimal attempt strategy. Focus on the hundreds of half baked, grammatically incorrect answers that come before the masterpiece.
When you look at goals this way, you start to realize that setting up a system for putting your revisions in is more important than choosing a goal.
Everyone wants to make progress. And there is only one way to do it: Take the first step, and then keep taking one step after the other.
“The best is the enemy of the good.” – Voltaire
Remember! A goal is just an event — something that you can’t totally control or predict. But the revisions are what can make the event happen. If you ignore the goals/outcomes and build habits instead, the outcomes will be there anyway.
So let’s start right now!
We at Civilsdaily are committed to helping you in the process of figuring out your learning personalities and creating the best time table and suggesting most relevant strategies for your IAS Prep.