Tired of Bar Prep? Guarantee Motivation to Beat the Bar Exam with These 5 Reminders

How often do you see motivationals like this?

  • KEEP going!!! Don’t stop!!!
  • You got this!!! You’re so smart!!!
  • You’re going to pass!!! BELIEVE IT!!!

I wanted to pass the bar exam, so I made an image of a bar license card with my name on it using Microsoft Paint.

I’m not even kidding. It has a “last modified” date of July 2, 2013. Look:

I set it as my desktop background. You know, for visualization and manifestation like random people suggested online. ~I believed in myself~ ✨

In fact, I was cocky and smug coming out of the exam. There was NO WAY I was going to fail after trusting the system. I wrote nonchalant things like this on social media so I could follow up a few months later with a sexy humblebrag:

Yeah, Facebook was the dominant platform 10 years ago.

Guess what, I didn’t pass! It also made me cry. Some good that woo-woo shit did for me.

I wanted to sue myself for my profound stupidity and delusion, like hoarding theoretical knowledge instead of using it, or thinking I could turn imagination into reality like some law of attraction.

While it is important to have a proper mindset — or mental models as I like to call them — now I tend to lean toward practical frameworks (like the ones I share in Mental Engines) rather than visualizations and yoga retreats to deal with doubts, overwhelm, and stress.

Because the real “Secret” is that everything is a practice. The more you do hard things, the more you adapt to them. You don’t say “I needed to hear this today” and go back to believing your way through.

In fitness, they say, “It doesn’t get easier; you just get fitter.”

In cycling, they say, “It doesn’t get easier; you just get faster.”

It’s not yet relevant to you yet, but in law, your billing instincts take over and you inevitably make sacrifices in your relationships and personal time.

The LSAT was tough. Law school was tougher. Bar prep is even tougher. The profession of law is yet tougher.

You can’t wait for motivation to come when things get tough.

“Motivation” can only take you so far, like a can of intellectual diet soda. You only have a tiny window to do something good with it when it does strike.

So I’m going to shift gears here. Your gears actually.

You might feel exhausted, plateaued, and generally not inspired to go at it even though the bar exam is looming on the horizon.

Whatever calmness you may have had before ago is now fair game for anxiety to attack.

It’s right before the finish line we lose steam, leading to a “failure of the last mile.”

I won’t let that happen.

Here are 5 reminders for you that will shift you into second gear. (Is that an accurate analogy? You get the point)

These are guaranteed to stay with you longer than intellectual candy because they require you to DO rather than only BELIEVE.

"your email this morning was EXACTLY what I needed. Teared up reading it. Thank you for your hard work and saying it like it is."

1. We CAN do hard things.

Sometimes we forget that we have the capability to do extraordinary things when we push ourselves.

There was a challenge several years ago to do a plank for 21 minutes straight. It seemed doable until I actually got on the floor for a few minutes. I could feel every second of the burn.

But I did it. A 21-minute plank.

Sure, I had to get on my knees at points, but I kept getting back up even for a few more seconds. It showed me that there’s plenty of space between what we think we can do and what we can actually do. One second at a time.

2022 began the most challenging period in my life, where I’ve been really stretched thin, among a new job that came with new stresses, keeping MTYLT afloat, a big project for MTYLT in the works, managing relationships, etc.

But I’ve seen that people can do things beyond my imagination to achieve their goal of passing the bar exam. You are also an inspiration to me.

You’ve done extraordinary things in the past. We can find motivation everywhere, from others, from our own past. Constraints also force us to be better with our time and energy…

So endure it. It’s hard. I know. But do it. Again. One second at a time. You did not come this far just to come this far.

Are you the kind of person who can do hard things?

2. It only takes a moment of strength for the lifetime privilege of calling yourself an attorney.

You’ve heard me say this for years.

You’ve invested untold amounts of time and money in an optimistic future. No one will ever know the true extent of the bet you’ve made on yourself.

Will it all pay off?

This uncertainty is all temporary. If you made a commitment to do your best on the next exam, don’t give in to temporary temptations.

Are you going to delay your future career as an attorney just so you could spend your time in a haze (because you “don’t have motivation”)?

Are you going to trade in comfort now for 6 more months of anxiety and studying down the line?

With your bar card, what possibilities will open up? Who will you be able to support, and what will you be able to do?

The calculus is clear. This is just a second of discomfort compared to what you could gain: the status of being an attorney. It’s going to be worth it.

What you gain from discomfort is remembered long after discomfort has faded.

3. Your future self is currently talking shit about you.

Because you aren’t doing any self-care.

Self-care is doing what will benefit your future self. Not being childish and selfish, only caring about your present self.

Self-care is actualizing your dreams of becoming an attorney. Not breaking promises to yourself and sending a signal to yourself that you aren’t worthy of self-esteem.

Self-care is investing in your future too. Not mortgaging the future for the present.

Self-care is not self-sabotage.

It’s not too late. Your past doesn’t need you anymore. Your future does.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

4. You aren’t trying to win the day. You’re trying to win the match.

Your match with the bar exam is scheduled. It is time to train.

You can’t control what your opponent will do. But you can control what you do each day.

It’s not always going to look pretty during training. But the point isn’t to look pretty during training. The point is to win the match.

You try to solve questions and feel like shit because you didn’t get it right.

GOOD! When you get punched in the gut, adapt. Learn something from it. Don’t run away or move on to the next match.

You don’t get upset that you aren’t as strong as your sparring partner yet. You learn from getting in the mock ring and sparring with someone who has graciously offered to let you test your skills.

You’re not training to beat the person you’re training with. You’re training to beat the person you’re going to fight in the ring.

5. The bar exam is like a puzzle, a game.

What’s more fun than interesting stories and games?

But even games need to be at the right difficulty. If it’s too easy, it gets boring. If it’s too impossible, it gets frustrating.

Just challenging enough that you earn your progress? You can’t stop playing.

The point of a game is to have fun, not torture yourself.

Enjoy the process. Have fun with it. That’s what MTYLT is about.

If you need extra help with lowering the difficulty, you can use streamlined attack outlines and issue checklists to make bar prep more enjoyable, balanced, and playable.

As you enter the final stretch, use your valuable time for practice and memorization rather than getting carpal tunnel flipping through a tome.

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