Challenging and fulfilling!
It was January 2017 when the idea of taking CAT became dominant in my heart and mind, courtesy of my job that was sapping me mentally every single day. New day, new struggle lead to a fierce resolve. And then, I began to read more about the CAT exam, came across various beautiful answers on Quora regarding how to prepare for CAT, which coaching institutes to join, and how to manage time for preparation alongside CAT. I was not in favour of joining any coaching institute after learning about the CAT syllabus, but even then, I visited a few institutes in Gurgaon like TIME and IMS. However, their whopping fee convinced me to go ahead on my own. From there, the battle on the field began.
In the outset, around mid-January, I started taking baby steps. My work hours were from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. In those days, morning hours were not very productive from the preparation point of view, so I used to study after office for about two hours every day. I didn’t force myself to spend more time because I wanted to set the tone for preparation. I would pick a quant topic and cover it in a few days, and also a little LRDI. No specific preparation started for VARC then, because I didn’t feel the need to do so. The point is, I did what I wanted to do at my own pace. This made my preparation intriguing. I started liking CAT preparation.
Perhaps, God was also on my side. It was around mid-march when my office timing changed to the afternoon shift (1 PM to 10:30 PM). It was indeed a stroke of luck because this timing gave me ample time in the morning to study. My preparation went to a whole new level.
My day started at 6 AM, and before leaving for office at 12:45 PM, I made sure I studied for around 4–5 hours. Not only at home, but I was also swamped in my preparation in the office as well, thinking about one question or the other, and reading news online. I remember I used to have one pen and paper in my pocket always in the office. Whenever I found no one around, I would go to the office library and solve a few questions from social media platforms like iQuanta and 2IIM. In a nutshell, on weekdays, I used to study for around six hours every day. And this routine worked pretty well for me, for days and months.
On weekends, I used to take a mock and analyze it. Weekends were relatively less productive than weekdays because there was no fixed schedule. And I used to chill most of the time on weekends. So, roughly, this was my schedule throughout my CAT preparation.
But, what was challenging in that?
The most challenging part was dealing with failure despite putting in my best effort. There were times when I was outrightly depressed with low mock scores. On certain days when I felt low, I won’t study anything. There were days when fear about failure crept in. There were times when all I did was overthinking. This was challenging. Channelizing this negative energy into positive was challenging. I had to motivate myself now and then.
Fortunately, I could succeed in hanging in through the rough patches by various means like motivational videos, success stories, failure stories, taking pauses, and going for the weekend trips.
There were times when I felt like giving up the CAT preparation, but as soon as I thought about continuing my job, I gave up the idea of giving up.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
My tenacity kept me going. In the last two months, I did not care about marks and percentile. I did not care about what others would think of me. All I cared about and focused on was learning from my mistakes in the previous mocks. And when the D-day came, the fortune changed. I was calm and gave my best.
How was the CAT preparation fulfilling?
That evening, when I looked back into my journey, I felt contented. I saw a complete turnaround in me as a person. What this pursuit made of me was truly satisfying. I felt it was all so damn worth it.
6 AM to 11 PM! Work and study! For days and months!
I truly savoured that yearlong odyssey, a transformational journey of patience and persistence. Witnessed failure. Cried. Witnessed excellence. Smiled. Witnessed unwavering patience. Realized strength. The strength to endure. The strength to wait.
From there on, I walked with impunity because I had done all I could have done. No regrets.
Eventually, I converted IIM Trichy.
And then, I got into a different world and lived a life I had never experienced before. Yes, I cherished every single moment of my life at IIM Trichy.