You can create change after divorce!
We are just over two weeks into 2022, and as we move past another hectic holiday season and settle back into our daily lives, many receive or have asked the seemingly harmless question “what are your New Year’s resolutions?”.
Many may dread receiving this question, and rightfully so! Studies show that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail, and most will fall off the wagon within a month from now. Our annual tradition of a lofty resolve simply doesn’t work for a number of reasons–vague, daunting, not sustainable, etc. And yet, you can create change after divorce. I am going to focus on what does work: how to achieve goals.
The New Year is a great opportunity to hit reset, reflect on the past year, and refocus on our goals for the future. A whole year is a good length of time to implement a life change–we can accomplish a lot in a year! But typically the life changes we’re looking for don’t just happen, you have to actively seek them out and build towards your goal.
Think about where you envision your life– where do you ideally see yourself a year from now? Pick one to three goals, and limit yourself to only one big goal. We want to set ourselves up for success–if you make five big goals, you’re not going to be able to do all five in one year. Envision a change in life that brings happiness, draft one big goal around that vision, and dedicate yourself to that one big goal, and then perhaps some subsidiary goals as well.
Do you want to be at another job? Do you want to be in a relationship, or a different relationship? Do you want to move to a new city? Do you want to go on that 3 month long travel sabbatical? This is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for the year ahead.
Take your one big year goal and then down into them from a twelve month to six month, three month, and one month bite sizes. And maybe even weeks too depending on the goal and your style. Know yourself though. If you want to be successful in your effort to create change after divorce don’t set yourself up for failure–make these goals attainable. This exercise will help you stay motivated in creating the change and achieving your goal.
Acknowledge that there is typically discomfort or stress involved in change. This is where your mindset is going to come into play.
Name and reframe: cultivate optimism
You’re going to face headwinds, so you need to prepare yourself mentally in advance so that when you hit an obstacle, it is expected and you’re able to mentally say to yourself “this is something I can handle”. Be mindful of the negative self-talk, because our thoughts are things, and things have wings! For example, if you want a new job, you are most likely going to interview for jobs that you don’t receive an offer for. Not getting an offer for one job doesn’t mean more than just that–you won’t be working at that company. Remind yourself that you will find the right fit and you have to continue the job search in order to find it. And that the ones that don’t work out are good practice! Reframe those thoughts and use them to your advantage.
Think about about energy output as a bank account & saving account. There are months that we spend more and months that we don’t. During the holidays we give and give. Know what you can give and what you need to replenish. Make the list and decide what you can and can’t do. It’s okay to say no–no gives you permission to reboot.
You know what you can handle based on your schedule and energy levels, and you will need to honor that. Keep your “self savings account” in close check during times of change and growth. Recognize –and even write down as an exercise– what activities do this for you to set the stage. Keep going back to them, and if you start to falter off the path toward your goal, be honest with yourself about what could be causing you to deviate. This checklist is the first place to start!
For me, it’s physical exercise, meditation, and seven hours of sleep. Performing these activities helps ensure that I am the version of myself that I want to bring to the table. If I neglect sleep or exercise, my mind isn’t in the right space for me to sit down and, for example, work on my book. You want to set the stage properly. This self maintenance is vital to ensure you are the version of yourself who can show up.
Jenny Stevens, LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor) spent nearly 20 years working with adolescents and families as a school counselor in Chicago, IL. In early 2021, Jenny launched Create Change Consultants to help people navigate their lives as they go through significant change.
As a therapist, Jenny brings a warm, inviting and unique style to interactions with her clients. She cares deeply about helping people facilitate the changes they have thought about for months or years, but didn’t possess either the motivation, inspiration or vision needed to do so. It is Jenny’s passion to help clients make and follow-through with such changes.
In addition to her private practice, Stevens works with Vesta Divorce to provide support through events, education and trainings to those navigating the divorce process for both individuals and families.Jenny lives in Chicago with her two daughters. She loves spending time with her family and friends, combining exercise and meditation to keep her balanced, and spending her free time in California and Colorado.
DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.