Today’s post is about maintaining (or regaining) focus and motivation. It is the last full week of June, the halfway mark for bar study. This is a crucial week because it is easy to lose sight of the goal. You are studying all the time but your motivation and focus might be faltering a bit:

  • You are sick of the lectures: you’ve been watching them forever but there’s still two more weeks to go. Will it never end?
  • You feel like Hercules cleaning out those Augean Stables: you work non-stop and yet the next day, there is another giant pile of work waiting for you to tackle. You feel animosity towards the progress meter.
  • You think about the bar exam a lot but not in a good way: you’ve contemplated suing the bar examiners for IIED, you have social media posts like: “Who owns blackacre? I don’t care. I would like to burn blackacre to the ground,” and #Ineedtostudy. You’re even having dreams about it (weird ones, too).

Putting in the work is not enough. You need motivation, the psychological drive that compels you toward a certain goal.  I can tell you to get motivated but this is extrinsic and only somewhat effective. Your motivation must be intrinsic. It must come from within. This means you must attribute your results to factors under your control and believe you have the skill to reach your goal. You can jumpstart this with some help from others:

Now that you’re fired up, it’s time to focus that motivation on the bar exam. Make a list of all the things you are doing to pass the bar exam and then list the skills it takes to do those things. Hang this up some place conspicuous and look at it every time you have the urge to take and post a picture of your cat or dog (the #!) “helping” you study.

Challenge: stop lamenting about how hard this is, stop posting pics of caffeine and bar outlines (so unoriginal), the gorgeous day you’re missing (as if everyone else your age doesn’t have a job), and screen shots of your progress bar (no one’s buying it). Instead post or tweet a photo of your list: #futurelawyerlist @ksilverkelly.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


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