There’s no doubt that being negative causes additional stress. The mind does not think clearly when it is under stress (it’s science). When you’re studying for the bar exam, it’s easy to be negative. However, when you’re negative, there’s a significant drop in your attention focus and concentration. Why? Because it causes additional stress. What does stress do, again? It makes you not think clearly. It inhibits your memory retrieval. It completely inhibits your study. So, if you find yourself in a completely negative mindset, now is the time to change it.
Self-care is critical on the bar exam. No, I don’t just mean going to the gym and eating healthy. One of the most important aspects of self-care is taking care of your mind. This includes being positive. Any time you find yourself in a dark place and surrounded by negative thoughts – shift your mindset. Let’s just start today with three mindset shifts you can begin practicing right now.
- Change pessimism to optimism. This is all about changing your perspective on things. You did an MBE set of 25 and you got 15 correct. Instead of saying – “I got a lot of questions wrong,” say “I got 15 questions correct, and I’m going to learn from the 10 questions I got wrong.” It’s all about attitude. At the end of each study day, write down three things that went well. This daily practice has tremendously helped students with anxiety and fears. Believe it or not, changing your perspective to optimism throughout bar study increases your chances of first time success.
- Don’t see the bar exam as a possibility of failure, look at it as a possibility for greatness. This is all about the dichotomy of “If I fail” versus “If I succeed.” Stop telling yourself this when you’re overwhelmed or stressed out: “If I fail, I have to take the exam again while working, or maybe I will lose my job, and it will cost me so much money.” Instead, look at it this way: “This is difficult and I’m struggling, but if I work through it, I’ll pass, and I’ll be an attorney and do what I love, and I will keep my job and make money.” Think about the challenge of the bar exam as an opportunity – NOT as a possibility of failure.
- Do NOT compare yourself to others. The bar exam is not a competition against those around you. It is, however, a competition within yourself. Be internally motivated – do NOT focus on outside factors that you cannot control. The bar exam is not a spring, it’s a marathon, and it’s a race against yourself. Make adjustments to your own studying based on your own needs. Show yourself what you can do, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.
Positivity is power. Surround yourself with positive people. Always avoid engrossing yourself in any negativity you may find. In order to be successful on the bar exam, you need to be the best version of yourself, which means you need to take care of yourself. Take care of your mind – it’s probably the most important thing you can take care of.