How Discipline Can Help You Crack UPSC Civil Services Exam

“Patience, focus, discipline and family support worked in my favour.”    –   Tina Dabi, AIR 1, UPSC CSE

Tina Dabi’s statement after securing the first rank in the 2015 UPSC civil services exam only reiterates the importance of discipline in order to achieve the IAS dream. Clearing the demanding UPSC civil service exam requires immense dedication and planning. Also, the process is long-drawn out as it is held in three stages.

  1. UPSC prelims
  2. UPSC mains
  3. Personality Test

You have to work hard for at least a year to enjoy success in this exam. You may be intelligent, dedicated, driven and hardworking; but what is the one thing needed to sustain these attributes for a whole year or more? DISCIPLINE. Period.

Discipline mandates inculcating certain new habits and breaking certain other bad habits and streamlining your daily actions to your defined goal. Human beings are creatures of habit. Studies show that 40% of our behaviour is habit-driven. If you are habituated to waking up late, you will find it very difficult to get up early for your studies. Why is this so?

This is because habits are embedded in our brain by the neural pathways that are etched in it. Neural pathways automate behaviour that is repeated over years. This is why it is almost physically impossible to break old habits. So it is rightly said, ‘Old habits die hard.’

You need self-discipline to develop your study habits and get better marks. A study has shown that self-discipline, more than IQ produced better academic performance.


How can you change it?

If you feel you have to change certain old ‘bad’ habits and turn into a new leaf to clear the UPSC civil services, there is just one way to go about it. GET DISCIPLINED! Discipline is the chief reason behind every success. How do you think Sachin Tendulkar or Usain Bolt achieved near-God status in their respective fields? Why is it that despite reading the same study material, some candidates score higher marks and some don’t? The golden key is discipline.

Look at the words of Haile Gebrselassie, two-time Olympic gold medallist and long-distance track and road running athlete from Ethiopia,

“Once you have commitment, you need the discipline and hard work to get you there.”

If you feel the need to change your life into one of discipline to achieve your dreams, read on.


Ways to inculcate discipline:


Meditation is one of the key techniques to induce discipline in your life. Even doctors swear by it. Meditation is all about aligning our physical bodies with our inner soul. When the two are aligned, we can lead a more focused and healthy life. Just 15 minutes of meditation a day can bring the jolt you need to get up early in the morning and stop yourself from hitting the snooze button.



Develop a sense of gratitude for what you have. Remember our mind cannot work if it is in a constant state of ‘lacking’ or ‘wanting’. If you have a decent place to stay, three-square meals a day, enough study material and the right guidance, what more do you want? There have been past toppers who had far less! So count your blessings.



Having a well-defined goal and believing in it will itself bring about self-discipline. If you have a dream that doesn’t let you sleep, you will align your routine and life style towards achieving it. Remember also to have a plan to achieve it for in the words of French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’</p



Good physical and mental health is a prerequisite to lead a disciplined life. Remember your mind cannot function if it has to concentrate on a hungry stomach. Eat well. But also take care to eat right. Eating junk food rich in carbs and fats would require the body to use more energy for digestion. Eating healthy food full of fresh veggies and fruits means that your body takes up less energy and time for digesting them and you get more energy for other priorities.

Also, get the right amount of sleep. Disciplined lifestyle means sleeping for the right number of hours. For an adult, it is 6 – 7 hours per day. Not more. Not less.

Exercise is like a magic wand that will help you be disciplined. It sharpens the mind and avoids lethargy and that tired feeling –all hurdles on the road to success in the UPSC exams.

Maintain personal hygiene. Falling ill can seriously derail your IAS preparation.


Get organised

Discipline also implies getting your environment organised. Have a neat and clutter-free desk to study. Tidy up your room. You cannot work efficiently amidst mess.


Time management

Do you know why the army is known for its discipline? Among other things, they strictly adhere to time. If you want to cover your vast UPSC syllabus and also revise a couple of times, you must learn to manage your time. It is one of your most precious resources. Learn time management tips for UPSC civil services preparation.


Remove temptations

Temptations come in various forms – the TV, your smartphone, social media, your friends who loiter around day in and day out and so on. Discipline means avoiding all temptations. And the best way to avoid temptations is to remove them altogether from your sight. Remember, you have a goal to achieve and it is in your hands to remove all obstacles from your path.



Persistence is the one good habit that allows you to rise every time you fall. Many a time during your IAS preparation, you might feel you are not up to it. You might be discouraged by other people. You must persist with your work and dream. Never give up. Talk to yourself about your bright future and self-motivate. Read more on motivation for UPSC civil services preparation.


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