I remember the very first day of my bar review course. As strange as it may seem I was actually kind of excited. Yes, I’m that girl who was always internally overjoyed on the first day of school, so naturally, my first day of bar prep was no different. I walked into class impeccably dressed with brand new stationery and my crisp new BARBRI books to match. However, at the end of that initial four-hour session, my excitement quickly turned into concern and by the end of that first week, I found myself contemplating if I could actually survive the ten-week journey I had ahead of me. Bar prep can be a very isolating experience. If you’re lucky like I was, you may have a great group of friends attending the same course as you are. However, at the end of each session we frequently found ourselves studying in different locations so that we could actually memorize everything we learned that day, as opposed to catching up on the latest gossip.
So how is it possible to stay motivated during this period of high stress? Here are three strategies that I used to increase my motivation especially in times when I felt burned out.
1. Create a personalized study plan and stick to it!
Goals are one of the best sources of motivation. Planning your study day with actual goals you would like to achieve, can greatly increase your motivation during bar prep. During bar prep, I found that although my bar review study plan was extremely effective, it wasn’t really personalized to me, so I found it difficult to stay motivated. Therefore, when I had a clearer understanding of the subjects I was weaker in, I instead found it more effective to reformat my daily bar review study plan so that I could spend more time focusing on my weaker subject areas and less time on the subjects I was stronger in. Each day I would write down what I wanted to achieve out of my assigned subject areas, whether that would be doing fifty Contract MBE questions (one of my weaker topics) as opposed to the twenty-five that were assigned or completing one Real Property essay (one of my stronger topics) as opposed to the two that were assigned. I quickly found that setting goals to work on these problem areas kept me more focused because they were more difficult.
However, the most challenging aspect of this personalized study plan was actually sticking to it. Realistically, it is very difficult to stay motivated when you find yourself struggling through tough stuff. However, there are several ways that you can keep yourself accountable when you find yourself instead desiring a Netflix binge. For example, there are some free apps on the market such as WayofLife and Rewire that can help you to track your study goals each day. Using these apps to track your goals helps to keep you accountable because it gives you a visual of where you’re excelling and where you’re falling short. However, if you’re not an avid app user like myself, you can instead rely on your bar review friends to keep you accountable. During bar prep my friends and I would sometimes share the study goals we had set out to achieve each day. However, if for some reason I didn’t achieve all my goals that day, I could always rely on my friends to guilt me for falling short. Nothing like some good old verbal shaming to drive motivation.
2. Reward yourself!
Rewarding yourself for achieving your daily goals can also increase motivation. As humans, we constantly allow extrinsic rewards to drive our work ethic. So why not apply this technique to bar prep? Once you’ve outlined the study goals that you would like to achieve each day, you should also think about how you will reward yourself if you’ve achieved them. Keep this reward etched in your mind throughout the day so that every time you’re tempted to put your books down you will have a clear reminder of the reward you will miss out on if you give up. Now this reward doesn’t have to be anything big but make sure that it’s something you will enjoy. I remember during bar prep I would frequently reward myself with two hours to watch reality television or even dinner at my favorite take out place (trust me rewards like these are a gold mine during bar prep). However, I would only indulge in these rewards if I completed all my study goals for that day. So go ahead, reward yourself. But only if you deserve it.
3. Claim your success!
Achieving success is oftentimes a psychological hurdle that we must overcome. However, once you realize that positive thoughts attract positive outcomes, then it will become easy for you to claim your success on the bar, months before you even sit for the exam. It’s that simple just decide that you’ll pass and this mindset will keep you motivated all throughout bar prep. Before sitting for the bar I came across an excellent documentary called, “The Secret,” that taught me about the “Law of Attraction.” In summary, this law provides that if we truly believe that we can achieve something and we focus our minds on that positive outcome then we must achieve it. Therefore, during bar prep I simply believed I would pass the exam, envisioned passing (I even created a vision board that illustrated this) and then ultimately I achieved this goal. This positivity pushed me to work extremely hard because all I could think about was achieving the success I had already envisioned. I know this may sound a bit silly but give it a try! What do you have to lose?
Staying motivated during bar prep is tough. But how about giving these three tips a try?
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