Holiday Motivation for Bar Exam: 3 Ways to Keep Going During Bar Prep

What do you say when you’re not sure how to talk to a new person at a networking event (or holiday party)?

Here’s a simple script that worked well for me:

  1. Walk toward someone.
  2. Extend a hand.
  3. Say, “Hi, I don’t think we met. What’s your name?”

And then you’re off to the races.

If this seems too simple, that’s the point. It’s not the perfect tactical wordsmithing of your intro that makes or breaks you. It’s the fact that you acted first and short-circuited your approach anxiety.

The parallel here to bar prep (of course) is to not spend too much time thinking about which supplements to use, which tutor to use, which newsletters to follow… when the most important thing is to have a plan, start moving, and stay consistent.

If you get stuck spinning your wheels “getting your ducks in a row” deciding on the perfect plan of action, you won’t get anywhere. A good enough plan > no plan.

In the end, whichever course or supplements you use, this is a self-study endeavor. You’re responsible for preparing yourself. Don’t forget that courses and supplements are simply there to support that.

“But it’s too cold outside, and it’s too warm inside, and this temperature delta and holiday spirit are making me too relaxed to do anything.”

I’m not letting you off the hook thinking “new year, new me!” and then NOT following through with your plans.

You don’t need a New Year resolution. Don’t let a date on a calendar dictate your actions.

(Also, it doesn’t work. How’s this year’s resolution going?)

Instead, keep the following 3 ideas in mind to light a fire under your ass and keep those buns toasty. Let’s get going.

"This is the best post I have seen this year"

Choose your hard

Preparing for the bar exam is hard. 

Waiting, studying yet again, retaking, and waiting yet again for results over the next 9 to 11 months is hard.

If you have to retake the February exam, next Halloween/Thanksgiving (next holiday season) would be when you’d find out whether you passed or not.

That is a haunting length of time. 

What do you want your next year to look like?

Is bar prep a priority?

I’m not saying family and holidays aren’t important. 

But what is your priority? The origin of the word “priorities” is singular. That is, there can only be ONE priority.

Short story: Once upon a time, I once worked with someone who was debating how to fit bar prep with holiday and family duties. When I mentioned that I did MBE questions on Christmas morning, she had a revelation that she did NOT want to do that (which is fine). We decided that, you know what, the February bar exam is NOT a priority for her.


For that reason among others, July was probably a better choice to plan for instead. That’s perfectly fine. At least we got clarity on a more realistic approach instead of forcing something that wasn’t going to work.

So is passing the bar exam your priority or not? Don’t confuse this with current readiness. If you have at least 6 weeks, you have enough time to ramp up.

Either answer is OK! But decide on it so you aren’t losing momentum trying to force yourself to do you’re not aligned with.

BTW, it’s not going to “ruin” anything if you decide to spend a couple of hours hitting the books or take a day off. Stop being melodramatic. You could have accounted for predictable downtime with my sample study schedules and scheduling guidance

Motivation for the bar exam

The greats always have a strong compelling WHY that pushes them to the top.

The top musical, athletic, and business talents of the world have their personal emotions to lean on. Maybe it’s not possible for someone to get up on stage in an innocent state.

It’s OK if you don’t have anything like that. You don’t need a beautiful cause.

You’ve just gotta find the formula that works for you and lights you up so that you can wake up every day energized to do something that matters to you.

  • Not wanting to solve and review yet another multiple-guess question is fine.
  • Never again wanting to be distracted away from holidays with your family and friends is fine.
  • Superficials like money, status, and vanity are fine (despite what they told you at law school orientation).
  • Even vague platitudes like “I want to help people” are fine.

The secret to productivity is to find a way to feel good, to enjoy what you’re doing.

Tap into your reason.

Whatever it takes to pass. You don’t need to get everything right. You don’t need the sugarcoated reasons you wrote in your personal statement. You just have to pass one time.

So never say the words “I don’t have the motivation” ever again. Of course you have the motivation. Your motivation is to put the bar exam behind you and become an attorney.

Look at what other readers have said motivated them. I love the personal honesty! Bar prep is personal.

What motivated bar exam takers 1
What motivated bar exam takers 3
"One of my professors once told us not to wait to be motivated. 'Just do the work' is the refrain that would help me when I was catastrophizing about failing or fantasizing about passing."

Most people think they lack motivation when they really lack the clarity to act. Did these three ideas give you some clarity?

New Year resolutions are ineffective. Instead of daydreaming about something too huge to actually do, why not just take one small step?

No, today. Right here, right now.

The key to clarity—and composure—is knowing the next step to take. Get clear on what you need to do, and the rest will follow.

If you want clarity and guidance for making this your last time preparing for the bar exam, start with these study tools.

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