How to Maintain Motivation and Momentum While Studying for the Bar Exam: Enjoy the Process

You’ve seen all the euphoria from people who passed the bar exam.

You’re probably “inspired” and “motivated” when you look at success stories, case studies, and accounts of people who excitedly announce they passed the bar exam.

When that happens, we say things like “if they can do it, so can I” (true). Or “I needed this today.”

Today? I’m not letting you off the hook just consuming intellectual candy. That’s some “new year, new me” type energy.

Anyone can desire to pass the bar. Anyone can fixate on the goal and tell everyone they want it. It’s not gonna happen just because you said it.

“I want to pass the bar exam” will require thousands of actions.

Being calm, collected, and confident on the bar exam is based on decisions and actions you make well ahead of time. You could try to conjure up “confidence” at the last moment, but all bets are off when it’s game time and the cards are on the table.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Look, you probably won’t feel confident. That’s normal. Expect that. Don’t get misled by the allure of being confident on the bar exam. That’s not the point.

If you want someone to coddle you and give you cookies, visit your grandma. You want to be barred like those people? You want to know how exquisite that feeling is?

Don’t waste your time chasing after confidence. Chase after competence.

Then perhaps you will find yourself feeling reasonably assured of your answers on the exam (and they’ll actually be right). The point here isn’t to feel nice. The point is to pass the fucking bar.

That’s why I’m going to ask you now, while hopefully still early in the preparation process.

Whether you’re just getting started on preparing for the bar exam for the first time, or whether you’re retaking the exam once again, I want you to keep it up and not run out of steam over the next few months. But motivation is not sustainable by itself. There’s a long way to go.

So instead, use your fleeting motivation to create that determination, that momentum. Otherwise, you’ll email me in three weeks asking, “Are we there yet?”

Here’s a real-life example from someone who invented the future (and the best way to do it):

Steve Jobs was let go by Apple, his own company. Apple later begged him to come back and offered to buy out his new successful company. They needed his drive and innovation.

Steve Jobs was said to have a “reality distortion field” that bent reality to his whim. I’m not talking about cheating the rules of physics like in an Avengers movie. But you can change what goes inside your mind.

His “reality distortion field” was a personal refusal to accept limitations that other people saw. It was a conviction that he could overcome any difficulty he faced (which he did). He always responded to obstacles and was open to change.

He was relentless and only limited by what he thought was possible. But thinking “anything is possible” doesn’t mean it’s possible now. We take steps toward what we want to achieve and do the work to make it a reality.

The best way to do this?

Enjoy the process.

Yes, you can hate your life and get through bar prep. That’s less sustainable. We need sustained momentum now more than ever.

Steve Jobs built gadgets since high school.

How am I able to send emails to my subscribers and write blog articles, consistently, year in and year out?

I love sharing these insights with you in a fun way. I get excited when I give you “aha!” moments. It makes my day when I get notes from bar takers saying how the nightmare is finally over or how they’re improving or excited (I tag every note like this in my inbox because they mean a lot to me).

For my repeat attempt at the bar, it was about intentionally taking small steps to be prepared by the end of it. To do that, I needed to enjoy the process.

Granted, bar prep is pretty much the dryest activity in the world… How did I enjoy the process of bar prep?

No more lectures.

No more filling in meticulous lecture notes until the sun goes down.

No more cookie-cutter plans.

I took plenty of breaks.

I tried different things to see what worked for me.

Bar exam preparation is about learning, not education. Absorbing, not mere exposure. Understanding, not just memorizing.

When things started clicking because I was going through examples instead of theory, when I saw my scores go up, when I wasn’t dead tired from filling in the blanks…

These got me through the days and weeks. My parents said I looked much happier than my first attempt. I was even working part time then.

But hard work doesn’t mean you have to suffer.

To reach your long-term goal of passing the bar exam, motivation must come from yourself. To do that, enjoy the process.

Here’s another example, from someone just like you:

Chelsy enjoying the process of bar exam prep

When you’re having “fun,” you’re enjoying the process itself, and the result is sure to come eventually.

She passed btw:

Chelsy passed the bar exam

What about Pralika, a repeating foreign lawyer?

Foreign lawyer/attorney enjoying the process of bar exam prep

Oh yeah, she passed, too:

Pralika passed the bar exam

Do you see a pattern? I’m not just talking out of my ass here.

🎬 So your action step for today is to find one thing you will try to make the process enjoyable. Don’t tell me “play Candy Crush for 5 hours before taking a crack at Evidence.”

You’ve wished enough. I want to know what you’re going to do, so let me know down in the comments. And don’t be one of those people who only ask questions like I’m an ATM. You tell me.

This is still going to be a long stretch, though. How do you ensure that you keep yourself on pace? I’ve said this before:

Part of finding that certainty is to make a plan first of all that you can stick by (but also be flexible with), and then act on it. 

Moving the wrong way is better than staying still because at least you can correct course and still come out ahead.

To that end, here are some general guidelines on avoiding burnout and how to craft a flexible plan for yourself:

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7 Replies to “How to Maintain Motivation and Momentum While Studying for the Bar Exam: Enjoy the Process”

  1. I hate preparing for the bar. Each time I’ve studied for it, I’ve felt like I’ve been on a different planet, mentally, because it’s so exhausting. Therefore, I procrastinate, a lot. This email was what I needed. I will change my mental approach to enjoy the process.

  2. For me it is going to be my mindset as I approach this bar preparation. What resonated with me in this article/email is the statement is that Bar Exam preparation is about “Learning, Absorbing and Understanding.” To change my mindset to have this Learning, Absorbing and Understanding I will focus on doing just that, by not looking at how many Q’s I need to do in a certain amount of time, not placing undue pressure on myself to get X amount of work done in X amount of time, but stopping and really absorb and understand what I am doing. So, changing my mindset to not rush through just to clear checkboxes, etc. This will make the process enjoyable because it will be a load of pressure off me mentally which translates into stress.

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