The Law School Mindset
by Monique Altman
Law school tends to be challenging for just about everyone – particularly around this time of year when midterms have been completed and final exams are but a few weeks away.
I have found the best way to survive and succeed is to cultivate a mindset and point of view that nurtures resilience. It is this mindset that can allow you to bounce back so that you may cope with law school and come out on the other side with your essence still intact.
We all have those moments when we are beyond tired or even bored. Feeling this way makes it increasingly challenging to internalize class lectures effectively or maintain a study schedule. As a result, we may feel stressed, anxious, or even fearful. These feelings are not conducive to the proper mindset. But, there are ways to get back on track.
First, remember that success is a marathon, not a sprint. Even though most of us already are aware of this, we can still find it challenging or nearly impossible to escape old thought patterns.
It is not the problems (low-scoring midterms or tough exams) and other obstacles we face that define us, it is the way we react and respond to those stumbling blocks. When we decide to move forward our choice is to give up or carry on. I choose to carry on!
In order to carry on, there are several different things that you can do. The first is to simply take a moment to clear your head. You might achieve this by running, doing yoga, or working out (the Peloton is my activity of choice). Exercise is a great stress reliever. Whatever you do – take action, clear your head, and regroup.
Second, be cautious about how you talk about exams to yourself. Be cognizant of how you talk to yourself about stress-inducing circumstances. When you opt to say negative things repeatedly to yourself, you do start to believe them.
Turn this situation around and choose to be positive instead, acknowledging to yourself that this may be a challenging time, but you are ready to take on this challenge. It is not only critical to quiet the negative self-talk, but to also manage negative messages around you.
The solutions are easier than you think. Stay off of social media if it stresses you when your friends are discussing final exams. If the library stresses you out, find another place to study. However, if studying at home is just too distracting – don’t do it.
Third, adopt an attitude of gratitude. This practice is all about seeing the positive things in life. Being immersed in a continual state of gratitude helps you to carry on even when the going is really tough. Gratitude shields you from any negativity surrounding you. If you only take note of the bad things in the world, stress will likely follow.
Fourth, be flexible in your thinking. You have to decide if your problems are unbeatable obstacles or only challenges to overcome. Flexible thinking is a stepping stone to being solution-focused. When a problem rears its ugly head, begin thinking of solutions and work at getting things going in the right direction. The result? You will feel capable, self-assured and positive.
Lastly, be optimistic. There is an old saying that “life rewards people who delay gratification and grind away at tasks.” But if you lose sight of being optimistic, you might just give up early. There is much more to embracing a winning mindset than just being positive. You must have conviction that your journey is worthwhile.