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Five tips for staying motivated during your degree

Boy sleeping at desk

In my first year, I was enthusiastic – almost ecstatic – about starting my five-year double degree. Keen and eager, I sped through readings, notes and various assignments. But with each passing year, the glamour of law school wore off and fully crammed schedules burnt me out. Like many other law students, I often found myself engaged in an existential crisis. What I had expected to be a fun and adventure-filled five years was now a slow, drawn out process.

And when the next exam period hit, I quickly realised I had to click pause and find ways to reset my outlook on law school. That’s when I understood that my motivation wasn’t lost… simply misplaced, and I just needed to find it again.

Here are some tried and tested tips for anyone facing the same challenge.

1. Find a goal

Goals are important, both short term and long term. It could be getting your dream job or as simple as finishing the semester. Once you have an end in mind, it’s easier to find the means to reach it.

2. Surround yourself with awesome people

It’s never easy to succeed alone and it’s okay to need help. Look to the people around you for encouragement. Who knows? You may draw motivation from their passion.

3. Don’t despair over bad marks

This is one of the most important lessons law school has taught me. The stereotypical law student is an over-achiever and perfectionist and after years of seeing marks of 90+, getting a pass grade or even a fail can be immensely disappointing. But don’t let this get you down. Remember that it’s only one mark and it isn’t the end of your course, the end of your degree and even less so the end of the world.

Take a deep breath and instead of despairing over it and falling into a quicksand of self-pity, chalk it up to an opportunity. Understand what went wrong, why, fix it and move on.

4. Take a break

Any healthy relationship needs space and your relationship with the law is no exception. We all love law, but that doesn’t mean we have to immerse ourselves in it all the time. Being glued to a textbook all day can be tedious. Law school already takes up enough of our time so when you’re not buried in poorly worded legislation and Kirby dissents, use the opportunity to catch up on some ‘me time’.

Hit the gym, go watch a movie. Rewind and refresh.

5. Be Inspired

Think back, all the way back. Who or what motivated you to pursue the law? Whether it was for social justice, an interesting issue that engaged your attention or simply the chance to argue for a living. Go back to it and draw your inspiration from there again.

If you can’t remember or you just aren’t feeling it anymore, look for fresh inspiration. The world is full of stimulus to drive you forward. Fiction counts too! So rev up your inner Elle Woods or Harvey Specter and go out and conquer the world, starting with your degree.

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