5 Reframes to Power Up Your Mind and Emotions for the Bar Exam Right Now

Preparing for the bar exam forces you to cycle through various emotions over weeks and months.

One moment calm, feeling like you’ve done all you could. Panic and anxiety the next moment. Frustration. Utter confusion. Overwhelm. Back to relief. Rinse and repeat.

Reality can betray the most reasonable of your expectations and daydreams at whim, coloring the past with regrets and the future with despair.

But it can also present us with gifts if you look carefully. Some days you have to look much harder than other days. 

If life only gives you lemons, you weren’t looking out for the oranges.

Here are five philosophies you can apply right now to mentally reframe how you feel about the bar exam:

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“I’m so unmotivated to study for the bar exam”

Feeling unmotivated to study for the bar exam? 

There’s a lot of talk about motivation around this time of bar season.

"How to bring back motivation?

I’m a retaker. I was doing pretty well score wise the last couple of weeks and felt generally decent. But this past week has me mentally exhausted and unmotivated. I can barely bring myself to do any meaningful study.

I know I can’t let this continue. It’s crunch time for God’s sake! How the hell do I bring back my motivation??"
"Failed simulated exam and feeling unmotivated

I'm a mess. I started off very optimistic but I'm just nervous and scared now. I've done all of the MBE subjects and 3 MEE subjects (I still have family law, corporations, agency and conflicts of law left). I scored a 79/200 on Barbri's simulated MBE and I'm just scared that I won't have time to practice. Has anyone failed the simulated exam but still managed to pass the bar? Do you have any advice? I'm sobbing."
"Seeking Motivation

I know this may be a little too soon into the process of preparing for the February Bar Exam, but how do you seek motivation? I know I’m supposed to study, but I just can’t seem to get through my tasks. I don’t know how more to get into the psyche of “I need to study because I want to pass” but I’m really struggling to motivate myself to put myself through the process. Any tips?"

Let’s first distinguish being unmotivated from being mentally exhausted.

If you’re TIRED, don’t accumulate exhaustion and enter a downward spiral. Stop at a reasonable point. Take an early day off. Reset your mind. Go the f🌕k to sleep.

Passive activities like watching (or rewatching) lectures, transcribing notes, or “reading” for hours also can be DRAINING if that’s all you do. Thinking about doing it is more exhausting than actually doing it. Don’t autopilot on default to avoid doing what helps you learn. Be more methodical and deliberate.

This is pretty boring stuff! It’s normal if you just can’t or don’t want to study right now. But this feeling will pass if you break eye contact with bar prep for a while. Your energy is at least as important as time, as we’ll talk about in the next email.

If you have the energy but still aren’t feeling motivated, that’s a separate issue. Being able to self-motivate is key. Otherwise, you might wait for a long time for things that make you say “I needed this today!” and do nothing about it.

Here are some strategies to fix the “unmotivated” issue:

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Setting Up Clear Goals You Can Follow for the Bar Exam

When preparing for the bar exam, set up clear goals you can follow.

Say someone asks you what you want. You say that you want to pass the bar. Great, a north star that you can reach toward!

But the end goal itself doesn’t tell you what to do at any given moment. It often makes you feel good about the future end result, but it doesn’t mean you will do the needed things in between now and the desired result.

For example, a new year’s resolution like “I want to lose weight” gives you a nice self-affirmation and a burst of motivation.

However, 80% of such resolutions fail by February. There are many actions required, such as watching your calories and macros, exercising, and doing so consistently. Simply jumping in with a new gym membership is a recipe for your goal getting ghosted.

There are three main components to good goals…

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Should You Study for the Bar Exam or Take a Break During Holidays?

Every time the holidays roll around, a pang of guilt flashes across the bar taker’s heart as they balance social obligations and the big day looming.

“DO I STUDY OR DO I HANG OUT WITH MY FAMILY?”

There are pockets of cultures surrounding work, rest, and self-care. Let’s divide them into two extreme stereotypical categories as a narrative device for me to make a point later:

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“I failed the bar exam. How can I possibly recover? What is left for me?”

“I failed the bar exam.”

“I wish I passed the bar exam.”

Powerful realities that no amount of Law of Attraction could reshape and manifest.

It feels like the end of the world. You’re too depressed to do anything. You feel like there’s no solution.

Regretful, helpless, ashamed, depressed, frustrated, indignant, unable to fight fate like your favorite superhero. You want to punch yourself instead.

People who don’t understand say:

This is just a test.

This is just a person.

This is just a random photo.

But this is an important test.

But they were an important person you invested all your heart and effort to.

But it was an important memento infused with memories and sentiments.

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