Many students find that waiting for bar results is actually more difficult than studying for the bar. Why? Well, when you’re studying, you’re working toward something. You have the chance to improve and fix things until you get them right. When you’re waiting, that’s all you’re doing, just … waiting. … Waiting for what will either be some of the best or some of the worst news of your life. I’m not saying you don’t have other things going on right now besides the anticipation, but as far as the bar exam is concerned, that ship has sailed. For better or worse, it’s completely out of your hands now.
So if there’s nothing you can do to affect the outcome, why is standing by such a challenge? Because it’s so easy to stress yourself out ruminating over the “what ifs” and possible outcome scenarios! Everyone does it. These can keep a person up at night! Losing sleep, retracing the same daydreams or horror stories over and over again, dwelling in the future and past instead of the present, these can all put us under a tremendous amount of stress. Even if it doesn’t feel stressful in the moment, it can wreak some havoc on your mind and body. What should you do instead? Glad you asked!
Come Up with a Standard Dismissal Phrase
Imagine the bar exam as one card in the stack of flashcards that are your thoughts. As you shuffle through one by one, it’s bound to come up. Some days, it might come up a lot. Find a way to send that thought card straight to the bottom of the stack each time it surfaces. You can tell yourself anything you’d like, the point is, don’t dwell on this topic. Don’t give it any time at all. Just say, “Nope, I’m not thinking about that until results come out,” or something along those lines. You can’t plan very far into the future until you know whether you passed or not. No amount of worrying now is going to help that, so dismiss bar exam thoughts and move on.
Prepare as if You Will Pass
Unless some disaster struck and you already pretty much know you failed, you should prepare as if you passed. Revamp your resume, get in touch with colleagues and friends on Linkedin. Update your profiles and think about the kind of job you want. If you do pass, you can hit the deck running toward your new career. If you don’t, well, this was all stuff you needed to do at some point anyway, so no harm done.
One thing that’s almost impossible to do when you have that same bar exam “what if” monologue loop stuck in your head is to relax. And yet, whether you pass or not, what you have right now is down time that you won’t get again for a while. If you pass, you’ll go on to being a lawyer, which, let me tell you, doesn’t involve much relaxation at all—especially when you’re just starting out! So, use the time you have! If you don’t pass, well, you’re going to have to think seriously about studying again, or doing something else which will probably be stressful enough. Take this opportunity to care for yourself, finish old projects, get healthy and have some fun!
Mindfulness just means staying in the present moment. Of course, this is much easier said than done! By taking a step outside our typical thoughts, feelings, and plans, we can view what’s going on in our bodies and minds from a slight distance without any judgment. The good news about that is that it’s a lot less stressful than constantly getting bogged down in what you can’t change about the past and what you can’t predict about the future. Plus, as an added bonus, you might find that it makes you calmer, less prone to snap judgment or agitated responses, more compassionate, happier, and just more even-keel than usual. If you’ve never practiced mindfulness before, there really isn’t a trick to it. It’s difficult but not complicated. Try some free apps to help you along.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- More Reasons to Study for the Bar Exam When Waiting for Results
- Eliminating Stress While Studying (and Waiting for Bar Results)
- Study or Not to Study While You Are Waiting for Results?
- How to Get Twice The Amount of Time on Your Bar Prep
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