When it comes to the IAS exam, people assume that only IAS should be their goal in life and they ought to do or die for it.
There are a lot of people who think that having singular goals is the best way to go to achieve anything in life. This is not necessarily true and it comes with some risks and caveats. In some cases, it may even be counter-productive. These are 5 reasons why only IAS should not be the goal
Reason #1 Duration of the IAS exam
The UPSC exam is a lengthy and arduous journey. No one is prepared for it until one jumps into the IAS preparation journey and begins the process from scratch. The UPSC exam is nothing like college or school exams which last a few days.
The IAS exam lasts about 2 years from the start of the Prelims until the final result is declared.
Thinking about only IAS and devoting all that time may not be a great idea because 2 years is a long period of time, especially while you are in your youth. The twenties and early thirties is the time to explore career choices and get a head-start in the career of one’s choice.
This is not to say that the IAS is not a good career. It only means that your IAS career will begin only after two years at the earliest. You can read about the things to consider before applying for the IAS here.
Needless to say, it is subject to a lot of factors and the chances of success are not high that you will clear the exam in the first attempt.
Add to this the fact that most people do not clear in the first attempt. in addition to the 2 years, you will have to devote many months separately for the UPSC preparation.
And while you do so, doesn’t it make sense to prepare for other similar exams as well?
Reason #2 You won’t enjoy the journey
The UPSC exam journey is one of the best things to happen to me. It forced me to learn and get smarter. The examination is designed such that the entire spectrum of your intelligence and hard work are tested together. You will need to memorize, synthesize, summarize and analyse various topics over the course of your preparation journey.
You will learn about the world, how it works, what problems exist and what is being done about them. You will not form opinions until you know all the facts and learn to think rationally.
And the variety of topics and interesting things in the world will always surprise you. Your thought process will become streamlined and analytical and your knowledge-network will grow beyond what you could ever imagine.
But none of this will happen if you focus on only IAS and not think on the journey of becoming IAS.
Reason #3 You will miss out on other opportunities
If you focus on only IAS you might miss out on other great opportunities which exist out there. There are many government jobs which can make for great careers in the Civil Services. It is not only IAS who have good careers.
You should keep looking for opportunities to write other government exams which open up. At the least, these exams will serve as excellent practice for the IAS exam.
At best, you might clear some of them and have the option of joining the job which will give you stability. If you become a Group A officer of the government of India, no matter which service or department you join, your salary and emoluments will remains the same as of your IAS counterparts. From that point on, focusing on only IAS would make sense if you really want it.
Moreover, there are many opportunities in the private and non-profit sector where you can focus on your passion and design the kind of life which you want to live. It’s not easy but it entirely possible.
Reason #4 Focusing on only IAS will cause stress
There are link between having singular goals and stress levels, If your stakes in that goal are high. This means that if you are risking something precious to achieve a goal, you will invariable feel stress.
Considering that you are interested in the IAS exam, it is undoubtable that your stakes are high. This is because of the hidden costs of the IAS exam, which you can read about in detail here.
The financial cost of preparation can be formidable. So can the time and opportunity cost. It is important to know what you are risking before you decide to take the plunge.After you calculate your costs, It may make sense to risk it, it may not. But what is certain is that focusing on only IAS will cause more stress than if you keep your options open wider.
There is a negative link between stress levels and performance. After a while, chronic stress leads to reduced performance and other health issues. Most damaging to you will be the impact of negative emotions like anxiety.
Your mental health will be tested during the IAS exam process and having more than one option can be very helpful maintaining it.
Reason #5 There may be a better job for you
People assume that they will make good IAS officers. Perhaps because they do not know the complexities of the job and the constraints under which officers sometimes work. Another spurious assumption is that they are right for the job.
The truth is that not everyone will make for a good IAS officer because the job requires a certain aptitude and it may not be right environment for you. This does not make you unsuitable for the job. It makes the job unsuitable for you.
This also implies that there is a profession which is suitable to you. Perhaps it is business and entrepreneurship. I know of people who struggle in the Civil services career because their inkling is towards business and they don’t like authoritarianism.
Such people may not working in strict hierarchies where orders flow from top to bottom. There are many examples of such people quitting the Civil Services and doing exceptionally well in business.
You might be such a person but you will need to introspect and find out for yourself. If you are, it is advisable to figure this out now rather than later.
The best option is one which is most suitable for you. Only IAS as a goal is not advisable because it will add more disadvantageous than advantages.
Invest some time to think about the big questions about exactly why you want to be an IAS officer before you choose and figure out if these reasons are rock-solid.
All the best.