B is for BALANCE AND MODERATION
“Balance is not something you find; it’s something you create.” –Jane Kingsford
Divorce can have a funny way of consuming you, and it’s easy to get caught up in the New Year self-improvement frenzy. Avoid heaping resolutions to your already hefty “to-do” pile–you may crash and burn. Instead, bring some harmony to your life by being choosy.
DON’T: I’m going to lose 60 pounds! I’m quitting carbs! I’ll go to the gym! I’m quitting smoking! I’m going Vegan!
PROBLEM: Multitudes of resolutions centered around one area sacrifices quality for quantity; critical things get neglected. More is not better. One is not enough. Added to your daily grind of bills, housekeeping, chauffeuring kids, and managing your inbox, there are calls to the lawyer, trips to the courthouse, and your best friend, the Notary. Now you’re adding more things you have to do. You think you’re going to resist the Oreo at the end of the day? I think not.
SOLUTION: Hang on to your sanity (if even by a thread) by trimming down to one resolution in each of these essential categories:
- Growth: If you’re a resolution addict, identify a systemic problem that addresses several symptoms. When life gets too hectic, it’s natural to focus on what’s right in front of you, but nine times out of ten that’s not the answer. Treat an underlying cause and you could say goodbye to three different problems.
- Fulfillment: Now focus on a little bit of fun. Your life revolves around taking care of responsibilities. How about some “me” time? Give yourself the gift of two hours each week—promise the person in the mirror you’ll do something you’ve always wanted to do for no reason other than you want to do it.
- Accomplishment: When your marriage dissolves, your whole world changes. Life feels out of your control. Finish a project that’s been nagging at you. Make sure it’s something you can get done in an afternoon or less. Quick fixes give you immediate, concrete results; the sense of accomplishment can help put you back in charge of your life.
DO: I’ll take a stress management workshop, sign up for a writing course, and paint the kitchen.
A friend of mine was notorious for zealous self-improvement binges. January was his time to shine. Each year he vowed a healthier everything, from hot yoga to drinking seaweed slushies for breakfast. He never failed to fizzle out.
Ever hear the phrase “Jack of All Trades, Master of None?” “Jared” couldn’t generate notable progress because his efforts were spread too thin, his outcomes contradictory: How could he lose sixty pounds while quitting smoking? How could he quit smoking without cupcakes? “Jared” eventually identified a common denominator lurking behind his vices: stress. Once he tamed that demon, there were significant changes in his weight, smoking, etc. and gained skills that enabled him to manage his life more efficiently.
While “Jared” found success exercising moderation in the quantity of goals he’d set, he found peace by balancing them. He had tried to change his entire lifestyle all at once; worrying about his health systematically pushed him into overload until meltdown occurred. One February I found him huddled in his pantry wolfing down a jar of dill relish after he’d consumed all the frosting, potato chips and other food in his house. He came down from the ledge after he decided just to go to the gym; when he picked up a cooking class, we were right at eye level again.
Resolutions: The ABC’s of Goal Setting