For several months, I have enjoyed the privilege of having my nose glued to the inside of various LSAT prep books. Yes, I am studying for the LSATs, and yes, it can be torturous. It’s all about the effort you put in. It’s been an interesting several months, for lack of a better term, of grueling through logic problems, drilling, and remembering question types. However, studying for this test has been revealing, it has revealed a side of me that enjoys logical deduction and reasoning as much as I love creativity and artistry, and it has shown me how much I can push myself.
So let me give you a brief introduction. The LSAT is a unique standardized test for law school admissions. It is unique in that you need zero outside knowledge to excel on the LSATs. In other words, to be good at the LSAT you just to learn the LSAT. You don’t need a particular preordained amount of intelligence or repertoire of trivial facts, just determination and hard work. When I began prepping, I didn’t know this. Whenever I answered a question incorrectly and didn’t know why, I assumed it was due to my inherent lack of rationality and logical deduction skills. I assumed that when someone else improved faster than me, there must be a limit how much I can understand, and when I read on online forums that contained insurmountable amounts of people with great scores, I became convinced that I should give up trying to be a lawyer. All these misconceptions kept piling onto one another until I collapsed. There was so much pressure to do well on this exam that my anxiety reared from the orange zone into the red zone. I just wanted to give up. Every fiber in my being wanted to give up, yet I didn’t. In fact, I improved leaps and bounds after a decided to keep pushing. I’ll bet a small fortune that you have felt the same way before. You may be feeling that way now. So what do you do about it? Glad you asked! Here are the tips I learned about determination while studying for the LSATs.
Plan to Goof Off
This seems counterproductive, but for those of us who suffer from severe procrastination this is how we get things accomplished. When making a plan to tackle your project, plan times to goof off. All too often I will scare myself away with linear plans and black and white due dates. It’s like staring at a calculator. It’s not conducive to any kind of productivity because it doesn’t give me time to do something creative. Leave room in your schedule to goof around and you’ll find it easier to keep yourself on track when it’s crunch time. That isn’t the end all be all, but it helps.
It Won’t Get Handed To You
The universe is vast and unforgiving. It supports too many complex living organisms and ecosystems to cater to your every whim. If you’re a believer in Christ than you understand that not even God just hands you stuff. In other words, there is some entity that rewards your good efforts when you put in the work. So do just that and make it easier for good things to come instead of relying on chance. All too often at my job I see people with their palms out hoping to receive things that they did not earn. I say this every day, they have to work hard like the rest of us and so do you.
Have a Flexible End Goal
It’s easy to lose sight of what you’re working towards when the going gets tough. But get a jump on unfortunate circumstances by writing down, visualizing, or drawing whatever your end goal is. Keep in mind that your end goal is allowed to change to varying degrees. It can change completely, or it can become more complex. After all, if our goals were easy, we wouldn’t be working so hard for them. So keep in mind that the visual in your head may change and the drawing could become ever complex and that’s okay! As long as you are accomplishing what you set out to accomplish then take a deep breath and embrace inevitable changes.
Have Smaller Goals
On the flip side, keep a repertoire of smaller goals to accomplish that are relevant in some way to completing your end task. Make sure these goals are easy, well-defined and have a plan attributed to them for completion if they’re a little more difficult. There’s nothing more rewarding than checking off some small boxes that lead to the big one.
Go Easy On Yourself
Often time we beat ourselves up when we don’t complete a task on time or if we fail to meet our expectations in some way. That’s normal, but try to cut yourself some slack. If you’ve made a plan or started on the tasks, your heart is in the right place. So you just need to figure out a way to get yourself to complete the task. There is nothing wrong with you because you’re having trouble getting yourself to complete a task. Everyone, literally everyone, deals with this issue on a daily basis. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t make yourself feel bad. It’s just something to work on!
As I said before, things won’t be handed to you (unless you’re insanely lucky), so you’ll need to work hard on them. Keep in mind that nothing worth having comes easy so keep pushing and don’t make it more of a struggle than it has to be. Don’t focus on the pain or the struggle, focus on the end goal or the improvement that needs to be made. Be encouraged by knowing that you are never alone and that you can accomplish what you set out to accomplish like my LSATs.