Five Lessons For The Exam That Is Life

With a desire to join one of the most prestigious services like Civil Services, you are preparing for an examination known as one of the toughest. You have to study a syllabus which is highly exhaustive and profound. You will have question papers that will test your level of preparation. You also have model answer papers to help you prepare. But do you really think this is the most challenging exam you are preparing for? Think again! You are already facing another far tougher examination than the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

That examination is ‘Life’ itself. Let me quote Ms. Sudha Murthy, a distinguished educator, author and philanthropist, who puts the dimensions of the exam that is Life beautifully and succinctly: “Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown, and question papers are not set. Nor are there model answer papers.” True, Life is a series of exams. It is never as smooth as the petals of a rose. It tests us in varied forms at every stage of our Life. You always need different skill sets to clear every examination you face at various stages of Life. Today, I will discuss just five lessons that will help you come out with flying colours in Life’s examination.

First, you will come across many people in Life. Some will support, guide, train and help you. Some others will make your success difficult. But remember that you alone can create the Life you want. Do not fall prey to opponents and critics. Don’t allow people to have power over you. Ultimately, it is only your choices, decisions, conduct, and faith in yourself that will determine what direction your Life takes.

Second, walk your own path. People tend to judge others. They put pressure on you by simply judging you. It is easy to let peer pressure make you stray from your own path and follow others. It is important to march to the beat of your own drum and avoid the pressure to conform to some prevalent norms. You are your special person, and you must follow your own path and realise your own dreams. Do not let others dictate the way you live your Life.

Third, act now and here. Far too often, people put things off. I will exercise once I complete this project. I will save when I get a better job. This procrastination is based on many factors. Please do not succumb to any of the excuses. Once you decide to do something, take the first step without wasting any time. And act with a vision. As Ms. Murthy says, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is merely passing the time. But vision and action together can change the world.”

Fourth, learn to develop good habits. The best way to achieve success in Life is by repeating the same small actions day in and day out. Healthy habits can be small, like getting up early every morning, or more significant, like deciding daily targets, networking or managing time between all necessary tasks. One of the great things about good habits is that they can be developed over time and become automatic, which means you don’t have to consciously think about doing them. Developing daily habits to improve your well-being can have a positive ripple effect on your health, relationships, finances, productivity, creativity, personal growth, and more.

Fifth, embrace simplicity. Ms. Murthy’s life is an ideal example of simplicity. By her appearance, one can never know that she is one of the affluent persons, being the wife of the co-founder of Infosys, Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy, and also mother-in-law of British Prime Minister Mr. Rishi Sunak. Still, she is immensely proud of her simple middle-class living. She says, “Having good relationships, compassion, and peace of mind is much more important than achievements, awards, degrees or money.” 

When we focus on a specific goal, it becomes so much important that the larger picture often gets obliterated. Once you achieve the current target of getting into Civil Services, you will realise that you have just passed a significant but small threshold towards a fulfilling and successful life. These five life lessons are just the tip of the iceberg, and you are intelligent enough to develop your skill sets to reach greater heights in life.

With these words, I wish you all the best in every endeavour.

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