As bright eyed 1Ls getting ready to start law school, most law students are excited (and a little nervous) about starting this endeavor and hopeful that it will lead to new, fulfilling opportunities. But once a student is a semester, or a year, or even two years into law school, it’s not uncommon to feel disillusioned by the experience. Maybe you’re disappointed in your grades or ranking. Maybe you’re struggling to find a supportive social group. Maybe you haven’t been able to secure an internship or legal job. Whatever the reason(s), if law school is not going the way you imagined, it’s time to make a change. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, so it’s essential that you do some soul-searching and figure out the precise cause of your frustration or dissatisfaction. Once you know the cause, consider whether any of these resolutions may help you overcome the bad habits that led to your current predicament and rekindle your motivation.
1. Resolve to Stop Complaining and Blaming
When you’re feeling frustrated, angry, or disappointed, it’s natural to want to complain about the situation. Occasionally venting your emotions can be constructive, but constantly complaining will only reinforce your negative outlook and keep you stuck in your current state, rather than helping you move forward. Blaming others – whether it’s professors, students, administrators, or colleagues – is often equally counterproductive. You can’t control or influence their behavior, so why waste time stewing about it? Resolve to stop complaining and blaming! Instead, focus on your own actions and reactions. If you’re feeling disenchanted by law school, take some time to remind yourself why you wanted to go to law school in the first place. Think about how all of the things you’re learning and all of the challenges you’re experiencing are actually helping prepare you to work as an attorney. Reframing your outlook and refocusing on your goals might help you have a more positive state of mind.
2. Resolve to Stop Procrastinating
When students are struggling academically, procrastination is frequently a contributing factor. Procrastination, poor time management skills, and a lack of self-discipline may not only undermine your efforts in law school, but will also likely lead to struggles on the bar exam and your professional career. So resolve to stop procrastinating once and for all! Instead, experiment with various time management techniques to see which ones are most effective for you. Get a good planner, create a study schedule, and stick to it! If you’re having trouble staying consistent, find a friend, study partner, or academic support advisor that can help hold you accountable.
3. Resolve to Stop doing the Same Things
If you’re unsatisfied with your current situation, it’s essential that you stop doing the same things that brought you to this point and start trying something new. If those things didn’t bring you satisfaction or success previously, they’re unlikely to do so in the future. So resolve to stop doing the same unhelpful things. Instead, make a list of the habits, activities, and behaviors that have served you well, and those that haven’t. If something is bringing you happiness, satisfaction, or moving you closer to a goal, then keep it. If not, discard it and replace it with something that will. For example, maybe you found that your 1L study group wasn’t really getting that much studying done. Politely resign from the group and focus on studying in a way that is more effective for you. Or, maybe you’re feeling disinterested in the type of law practiced at your internship. Don’t let yourself continue down that path just because it’s easier to stay rather than look for a new position.
4. Resolve to Stop Compromising your Dreams
There is no time like the present to start working toward your dream, no matter how incrementally. If you don’t commit to building the life you want right now, you might just find that – in what feels like the blink of an eye – 10, 20, or even 30 years have gone by. Resolve to stop compromising on your dreams! Instead, make sure every step you take is one towards achieving your goals. Be a little selfish and be open to making drastic changes if necessary. To paraphrase Thoreau, start living the life you’ve imagined right now. Not sure exactly what that life looks like? Think about what you would do, where you would live, and who you would surround yourself with if money were no object.
5. Resolve to Stop Giving Up
As Dr. Seuss taught us when we were children, “I’m sorry to say/but, sadly, it’s true/that Bang-ups/and Hang-ups/can happen to you.” Everyone will hit bumps in the road or have moments of self-doubt. Everyone will make mistakes and take the occasional wrong turn. But you can’t let those struggles slow you down! Resolve to stop giving up. Instead, reach deep down inside and persevere! It takes constant effort to be happy and fulfilled, so don’t give up. Take care of your mental health, build up your grit, and keep trying!
No matter how committed you are to your particular resolutions, sticking to them and breaking negative habits will be a challenge. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have the occasional off week and be sure to acknowledge any positive changes, no matter how small. Best wishes for a happy, successful semester!
For more helpful advice, check out these posts:
- Podcast Episode 7: Time and Life Management Basics
- Podcast Episode 63: Dealing with Self-Sabotaging Behavior in Law School
- How to Stick to Your Goals in Law School
- Dealing with Law School Time Regret
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.