Welcome, if you landed on this article, it gets better! The snow is the perfect excuse to stay inside and study, right? Unless you don’t know what snow is, then maybe just give me a ring, and we can come up with another excuse to study. If you have landed here, I would like to say you are way ahead of the holiday slump because you recognize the double hurdle you may have to jump to successfully pass the February bar exam – the Holiday Hurdle.
Let’s face it, studying for anything is tough during the holidays. The distracting lights, the soothing music, the family gatherings, the cookie decorating ….. the eggnog …… but let me tell you something. None of that is going anywhere. Let me tell you something even better – you can enjoy each one of those things. I’m going to use my least favorite word in the fitness guru lifestyle, Moderation™. You can enjoy each one of the things mentioned, in Moderation. So let’s dive in to the classic who, what, when, where, how of getting through the Holiday Hurdle and still pass the bar exam. And if these tips aren’t directly on point for you, trust me, there are plenty more tips out there.
One of the most important things to determine during the Holiday Hurdle is who you can surround yourself with, and who you can’t. You are likely at your maximum capacity regarding external stress factors. Not only is the bar exam a beast of a task (which you will tame) but the wintery months are cold and begging you to snuggle into the closest soft surface. The nights come quickly, especially if you’re on central time. So, the last thing you need is that extra aggressive and, dare I say it, needy sibling opening your bedroom door every ten minutes and not shutting it on their way out. That is not to say you can’t hang out with them, or entertain the loud cousin who stopped by to hang out “with the new family lawyer,” it just means that at times you may have to use that analytical brain that may still be afraid of confrontation to set boundaries with who will distract you and stress you out more than needed on a day of hard studying.
For the princess of indecisiveness, this is probably the hardest part of this piece to write. What should you say yes to and what should you say no to? I actually don’t have an answer. But I can offer you some consequences of saying yes too many times. Saying yes to each holiday excursion will probably drain you even if you weren’t studying for the bar exam. This is really where Moderation starts its role in your season. So, it’s December 21st, the Saturday before Santa comes. I can hear it now, “let’s just go have one drink, you need to relax!” or the family is gathered and Dad wants to make his famous Eggnog. I have one word: Hangover. I know, I know, you’re young and nimble and you ~never~ get a hangover. That’s scientifically impossible, but let’s say you don’t feel the effects strongly. I can almost promise that staying up late, and drinking one too many cocktails will hinder your focus and retention abilities the next day. That is not to say on the specific Holiday Day you cannot partake in the same things. But why do it too early? Whatever Holiday you are celebrating, I know there are specific days where celebrations are bigger, and there is no need to jump the gun too early.
On the same note, I strongly encourage to add in some full days off, so it makes saying no to other activities easier. I’m sure you’ve heard it, it’s been said many times many ways – this is a marathon not a sprint. It is okay to take 24 hours off during the week, and I would even go as far to say take 2 days off per week during this season. If not, you may be more distracted by saying no than what saying no should be doing to help you stay on task.
When should you partake in the Holiday Spirit and when should your partake in Hearsay? Try to think of studying for the bar exam during the holidays as a full time job. Studying from about 8:00 am until 6:00 pm is a great way to stay focused and still have time to enjoy a cookie decorating, or a stroll in the park looking at the lights. On the important occasions, I hope you take the full day off anyway. For example, please just say no to that 3:00pm movie matinee. I know it is enticing, but is that movie that will be released on a streaming service soon a priority? Are you really going to enjoy that over a day off later? It’s not worth interrupting a perfectly good day to see a movie with a below average rotten tomato score. I strongly encourage you to schedule the important little outings like someone who has a full time career would do.
Another brief point, while we are on the life lesson of saying no, try not to become everyone’s babysitter, handyman, cleaning service, or lunch buddy. Especially if you are going home for the holidays, it’s easy for those around you to see you as “free.” But you are probably the busiest they have seen you in a while, and it is imperative to remember that.
Where to go is also a key factor in making sure that the holiday season doesn’t throw you off your game. When I say “where” I am referring to how far for small activities, when to hop on the plane to go home, where you’re planning on staying, etc. Everyone’s situation is different. Some people forego the hotel cost and crash at relatives homes, some people only fly out for Christmas, or whatever holiday they may be celebrating during this season. But the resounding tip is the same. Wherever you are travelling and for however long I would try to keep in mind the level of distraction the lodging is. Although it is so nice to be in a cozy house, there are pros and cons. So during this time, maybe a hotel – if feasible – better suits your needs. However, if you have a comforting atmosphere that will let you feel supported then maybe being at home is the best option.
Finally, how in the world does one do the holidays in moderation? Find a consistent, quiet place to study. As I said earlier, it is easier to partake in the things you want if you are able to implement a “9-5” schedule. The chances are, if you are a millennial, that your parents and/or other loved ones don’t get every day of the holiday season off. And if they do, I want that job. They will also have to go into work as well which helps you have a full day of limited distractions. Try to keep the schedule of those around you. Understandably, you may need to spend a few more hours on Hearsay than you’d like. But for the most part, call it quits at 7:00pm. If you have to, get up a little earlier than you want. If you have to break at 5:00pm and regroup after everyone has gone to bed, then maybe you do that. Above all else, the best tip is to maintain any sort of moderation and control during this time, you cannot sacrifice your sleep.
What I am trying to say is that the Holiday Hurdle is a lower hurdle than you may think. It’s really just a log on the ground if you think everything through and execute with purpose. The hurdle will definitely get bigger if you don’t confront the fact that it will be a challenge. But if you’re reading this, then that is a message for someone else. Happy Holidays! The best gift will be passing the bar exam.