What does ‘post-divorce you’ look like?

 

Divorce is not just about endings. It’s also about new beginnings. And, most importantly, it’s about a new start for you. So when I ask ‘What does post-divorce you look like?’ I’m not talking about whether you get highlights put in, or embark on a new fitness regime (though feel free if those things sound good to you!).

 

I’m talking about how you’ll focus on yourself during and after divorce. How you’ll reconnect to the real you – the one no longer smothered by an unhealthy marriage. I’m talking about what that person is and how to find her. September’s a great start for new ventures. It’s the alternative new year – one with better weather and when we’re not ground down by winter! So if you’ve not given your future much thought, now is a fantastic time to get the cogs turning. 

 

In What does ‘post-divorce you’ look like? I’ll talk you through how to get back in touch with what really matters to you. Then how to make a plan to make ‘post-divorce you’ a reality. 

 

Who are you now?

Before looking to the future, let’s pause a moment to take stock. How are you feeling right now? Who are you right now? 

 

Whatever else is going on, by taking on the divorce process you are a woman who is taking herself and her life seriously. And you should be proud of yourself for that. Let it be the catalyst for more positive change in your life. 

 

Many of my clients tell me they lost themselves in marriage. They got so caught up in other people’s needs and expectations that they lost touch with what makes them feel alive. They didn’t have time for their own hobbies, skills development and interests, and over time they forget who they are. 

 

Does this sound like you? Don’t worry. It’s perfectly possible to reconnect with your sparky, unique self. And now is a fantastic time to do it. Divorce finances might mean you need to consider your skills set and get new qualifications anyway. And if they don’t, developing a new skill or taking on a new project is a powerful way to mark this next phase in your life. 

 

What do you care about?

You might be fired up about the future and ready to throw yourself into a new course, class or hobby. Stop for a second. You have an amazing opportunity here. A time in your life when you can really focus on your own wants and needs. When you can think about the person you are now – not the one deflated by marriage, or perhaps the naive, eager-to-please fiancee. 

 

So before jumping into something new, spend some time with yourself. Post-divorce you can take time to evolve. Take the time to think about what really matters to you now. The best way to do this is to start with your values. 

 

Rather than goals, which can be ticked off a list, values are ways of being – they guide how you live your life. So your goal might be to ‘get a job in an animal charity’ and your value might be ‘help the natural world’. Whenever you’re thinking about your future, starting with values gives you a solid base. It means whatever specific course of action you go for, you can be sure it’s something you’ll find meaningful and relevant. 

 

So many people do this the wrong way around – they come up with a list of goals first. And then they realise they’ve put their ladder up the wrong wall. They may succeed in achieving their goal, but it doesn’t bring them the meaning or satisfaction they’d hoped for because it’s not really aligned with their values. Usually people’s goals are based on learned definitions of success, or other people’s expectations, or wanting to make a statement to the world.

 

The best way to make a statement is to be yourself. And the best way to be yourself is to be true to your values. 

 

Sort card exercises are a great way to explore your values. You can find free versions, like this one, online. They help you focus on the ways of being that matter most to you. 

 

What’s possible? 

Once you understand your values, you can start to explore options. Let’s say one of your main values is to ‘help others’. You can then start to look at how to make that reality – whether it’s through looking for training, volunteering or work. This might seem a daunting task but there are filters you can use to narrow down your options to ones that suit you. Post-divorce you can be who you choose. Ask yourself:

 

  • Does it play to your strengths? A strength is something you can do well (even if you might need training to improve) and something that gives you energy rather than drains it. So you might be great at attention to detail – but data entry into a spreadsheet drains you, whereas complicated baking projects light you up
  • Will it give you what you need? If you need new skills to support a career change or reboot, make sure you’re choosing something that will give you the training you need. If you’re choosing it just for pleasure, make sure that it involves the sorts of things you’ll find rewarding. 
  • Can you afford it right now? Some training options may be expensive. If you can’t afford it right now, but you decide it’s right for you, all is not lost. Use the time to gain related experience as you save or explore funding options.
  • Do you have the time needed? Many training courses are delivered flexibly and online, so there are fewer access barriers. Take a look around to see if there’s an option that works for you. For many women, doing training in modules or chunks can make them more accessible than, say, signing up for a 12-month course. When considering work options, make sure any new job works with the lifestyle you want or need for yourself and your family. 

 

Don’t hold yourself back: join The Absolute Academy

Women are great at imposter syndrome, and talking ourselves out of new opportunities. Don’t be that person! Remember that divorce is one of the most stressful life experiences you can have. And you are handling it. You are using and developing skills you didn’t realise you had. So you can handle whatever else the world throws at you too. If you are feeling scared but excited by an opportunity you’ve found, that feeling is telling you to go for it! 

 

It’s easier if you know people have your back. That’s why I set up The Absolute Academy. It’s so much more than a place to learn how to make smart decisions about divorce (though you will, and may well save thousands in legal fees). It’s also a place to be totally yourself. To share your fears and hopes. To have a community of women cheering you on. You’ll also have my coaching expertise on hand as well as my legal experience. 

 

Every week in there we see women sharing how they’ve embarked on retraining, ticked something off their bucket list, or gone for (and got) that promotion. That’s because they’ve learned they need to put themselves first and focus on what’s important. Both now and in the future. Their divorces don’t define them but they have helped them grow and become even stronger. Post-divorce you can be the same.

 

I would love for you to join us. You can read all about it here. And if you have any questions, just ask, I’m happy to help

 

About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of  The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com

 

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