Ready for a new start? Although you can set intentions or make resolutions at any time, the beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to assess where you are and what you want to achieve in the coming months.
If you are divorcing or newly divorced, taking time to visualize next steps in your life can be a powerful, positive affirmation. Why not start today? Make a list of steps you want to take to create a happier, more fulfilled life. Here are 10 ideas to help you jump-start your New Year’s Resolution list:
1.Set a deadline for the discourse. If your divorce is dragging out due to haggling, set a deadline (for yourself) to bring the contention to a close. Be realistic. Engage the help of your attorney to help you detach emotionally and negotiate the details. The sooner you can tie up financial and legal loose ends, the sooner you can move forward with your life — and the rest of your resolutions.
2. Update your will, trusts, insurance policies, and beneficiaries. Once your divorce is final, take care of this important step right away. Revisit your will and adjust as needed. (Don’t have a will? It’s time!) Make a list of any asset (checking, savings, investments, life insurance, etc.) that has a named beneficiary and go through the process of updating as needed. Many financial institutions make this step easy by allowing you to make changes through your secure online account. (Read more: I’m Divorced. Now What?)
3. Establish a budget and create financial goals. Meet with your financial advisor to reset your forecast for short- and long-term-savings, including retirement. This may mean adjusting your investment portfolio to take a more conservative or aggressive stance, or by tightening the belt while you adjust to single-income life. If you don’t have a financial advisor, consider getting one — especially if your spouse previously handled this responsibility for your household. (Read more: The Post-Divorce Budget)
4. Limit negativity and gossip about your ex. It can feel satisfying to talk to your friends and family about what a terrible person your ex was/is, but that focus on negativity can also bring you down emotionally and spiritually. Although it’s normal to feel negative emotions after a break-up, resentment will not help you move on or allow you to live your best life. Set a time limit for your rants so that they do not consume your time spent moving towards positive goals. If you need to vent, consider working with a skilled therapist and allow that professional to help you sort through your anger, resentment, and fears. (See Resolution 5)
5. Learn from your divorce. Seek the help of a therapist or support group to learn all you can from your break-up. The more insight you can take away from the demise of your relationship, the healthier your next intimate relationship will be. (Read: What Can You Learn From Your Divorce?)
6. Commit to being a positive role model. Experiencing divorce can be one of the toughest, most stressful events in life. It’s natural to feel all the emotions that come up as you grieve the loss of the relationship —even when you know breaking up is the healthiest option for all involved. Feeling anger, sadness, and anxiety is natural, but how you respond to those emotions can be a great example to anyone who is watching — especially if you have children. Refraining from speaking negatively about your ex in front of your children is a wonderful resolution to uphold and can make a difference in the way they process their own feelings about your divorce.
7. Play and find joy every day. Resolve to participate in activities that bring you joy — especially when you feel down. Unsure of how to accomplish this feat? Consider what brought you joy as a child. Cooking, dancing, listening to upbeat music, singing in the shower, or going for a long walk, paying board games, reading a humorous book, or watching a comedy on TV can all serve to lighten your mood and maybe even inspire some laughter.
8. Find healthy ways to take care of your needs. If you’ve been living in a dysfunctional relationship for a while, you may have set aside your own needs in order to manage someone else’s. Now is the time to put yourself first! Make a list of your personal needs. What are the aspects of life that are regular requirements, such as companionship, healthy diet and exercise, meaningful work, financial stability, spiritual life, community, entertainment, travel, etc.? Consider how you can address each of these needs. Hint: You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, it’s unhealthy to expect one person to meet all your needs. Develop your “team” of friends, family members, and professionals who can help you through life’s ups and downs.
9. Renew your commitment to physical fitness. Being single may mean that you can now prepare the foods you like to eat or make healthier choices with your time so you can workout. You might decide to choose an activity that provides a sense of community (a strength training gym or yoga class), or you may find that a solitary sport (such as distance running or cycling) gives you a respite from your otherwise busy day. Likewise, finding a nutritional plan that makes sense for you can be empowering. Not sure where to start? Consider booking a session or two with a personal trainer. Or reach out to a friend whose healthy lifestyle you admire and ask them to help you create a plan that works for you. (Read more: Getting to the Heart of the Matter)
10. Forecast forgiveness. As hard as it may seem right now, as the months tick by, you might find yourself being able to forgive and forget as you move forward with your life. Forgiving yourself and your ex for whatever shortcomings and damage may have occurred during your time together is hard work, but it is possible — and it frees you up to live a happier healthier life. (Read more: Tis the Season: Seven Steps to Forgiveness.)