By Amy Setzer, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group
If you’re on our blog, chances are you’re in one of the three stages of divorce: contemplating, in the process of, or finalized. Regardless, life probably feels like a never-ending rollercoaster. At a time when everything is spinning out of control, it’s natural to wonder how the heck you got to this awful place. As the adventure of 2016 commences, remember this: life is what you make of it, and it doesn’t have to suck.
It’s a season for starting over, a time when the world can hold promise again. Don’t miss the opportunity to make a genuine, positive change in your life. So far we’ve reviewed tips on how to approach New Year’s resolutions in a way that maximizes the chance of success. But as you venture down the road to a healthier, happier you, it’s not just about HOW the destination is reached; it’s where you’re headed that matters most.
C is for Creating Meaningful Change
“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn
The beginning of one thing denotes the end of something else. Married life is over, and now it is time to start again. You are not the same person as during, or even before the marriage. This year, give yourself the gift of time: time to get to know this new version of yourself and time to figure out what you want and where you want to be. Don’t waste a resolution on ‘getting organized.’ Jump into the scary and give an honest look inward to be a bigger and better you.
Stumped? Try answering the following questions to brainstorm some meaningful goals and jump-start a friendship with that new person in the mirror.
What did I lose of myself that I’d like to have again? Think waaaaaaay back to before you were married. Was there something you used to have, or do, or be that you’re missing now? Whatever it was, I bet it was just yours, and I bet you loved it. Fill the blank in this sentence: “I can’t remember the last time I_________.” For me, it was art. After my divorce, I found myself spending hours alone, watching TV, bored out of my skull. One day, while cleaning the attic, I found my brushes and easel–old friends were there waiting for me. Painting again was cathartic; it reminded me that I sometimes liked being alone and I was going to be okay by myself. Find something you adore and claim it. Go start __________ again.
If I could change one negative thing about my life, what would it be? I could probably write a whole separate article on this topic, but suffice it to say that starting over is terrifying; it’s easy to wrap up in a familiar blanket of bitterness to avoid thinking about it. Realistically, though, to find happiness, life need to be filled with as much positive energy as possible. Many times that means letting go of things that aren’t working. Do you spend every waking minute of free time haunting your ex’s Facebook searching for hidden meanings? Have the same tireless argument with the kids? Missed out on that promotion three times in a row? If something in your life relentlessly weighs on you—make it different.
What are some good things I got from the marriage that I want to keep? As much as you might loathe to admit it, there must have been a reason the two of you married; to stay optimistic, it’s important to remember the good times had together. Maybe she taught you to appreciate Thai food, or he took you skating every winter. Don’t stop doing things you enjoy just because they are associated with your relationship. Remembering that it wasn’t all bad will help you be more reasonable when dealing with your ex, which makes your life easier.
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” – John C. Maxwell
Like any great loss, the end of a marriage isn’t something to get over, it’s something to get through. Why not set your sights, not just on changing, but on growing from that experience? Instead of letting the divorce control you, take the reins and make it into something positive. Sure, you could stick with an old standard like losing weight or paying off debt– those things are important. But are they the most important things to focus on right now? No, they’re not. Instead, invest that energy in figuring out who you want to be now that the dust has settled. While you cannot change what is happening, you can choose to come out the other side with dignity, as a stronger and wiser human being.