Why You Need Accountability In Your Divorce
Getting a divorce? You need to get accountable. Without it, the path to divorce is rockier and steeper. And, heavens knows, divorce is difficult enough – it’s worth grabbing anything that makes it better. It’s not just divorce too – we need accountability for lots of things in life. In Why You Need Accountability In Your Divorce we getting into why, and how exactly you can get the accountability that’s right for you.
Divorce is no fun
Let’s face it, as fresh-faced 21-year-olds, none of us had ‘get divorced’ on our life plans. When it comes to your personal and career-related hopes and dreams, I’m betting ‘going through a traumatic emotional and legal experience’ wasn’t on the list.
Let’s start there. Divorce isn’t something we’d choose, given a blank page. Hopefully, if you’ve read ‘How To Be A Lady Who Leaves’ or got into my blogs (start here for a good round-up of must-reads) you’ll know that it’s essential to spend time making both a plan and a vision for your future.
Sometimes that vision is enough to see you through. The thought that one day you will be divorced, and living a peaceful life free of your marriage is exactly the motivation you need to do the hard things now.
Often, though, you need external motivation. It’s natural – you’re human. We use reward and treat systems to get ourselves through unappetising things all the time. Got to write a boring report for work? Promise yourself a glass of wine that evening when it’s done. Got to take the children to football practice in the pouring rain? Take a flask of coffee to see you through. (Is there a reason all my rewards are drinks?!)
Accountability – the motivation you need
Accountability is a form of external motivation. It helps you stay on track when you’re not naturally drawn to doing something for its own sake. Daunted by looking at your finances? It’s easy to put off until the weekend when you have more headspace… and at the weekend you figure you need a rest so you’ll do it next week… and so on. Accountability stops that procrastination in its tracks.
When you are accountable you know you need to show up. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to do it. You’ve said you will, and people will be checking in. Of course, if there are good reasons why you’ve not done something, no-one’s going to haul you over the coals. But research suggests time and time again we are more likely to get an unappealing task done if we’re held accountable.
Divorce is complex
We are wired to back away from tasks or subjects we find difficult. It’s satisfying to tick a job off a list. It’s far less satisfying to see a tangle of things to do, some dependent on other people, some with unknown answers, and have to sort it all out. Our brains scream “run away!!!”
For most of us, anyway. Some lucky people get a thrill from creating order out of chaos, and if that’s you, great. But it’s still easy to let things drift, or not know the best order to create an effective plan.
When things get complex, accountability becomes a much-needed companion. You wouldn’t attempt to climb Mount Everest on your own if you’re a novice who’s just bought some walking boots from Mountain Warehouse. You’d seek support to help you get the right kit, get fit, and then someone to walk alongside you as you trek into the Himalayas. Accountability means you’ve got someone alongside you as you climb your Divorce Everest.
It means you’ve got people to sense check your plans with. Depending on where you get your accountability, you’ll have people (like me!) who know what’s needed and can tell you what to do first. And as you undertake your Divorce Everest you’ll have people making sure you have what’s needed every step of the way.
As that old saying goes, every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Accountability means you take that step, and keep taking it. And helps you travel in the right direction too.
Divorce is a marathon
First mountain climbing, now marathons – anyone would think we’ve been locked down for months and I’m dreaming of the great outdoors!
But a marathon is a great metaphor for divorce. Unlike a sprint, it’s rarely over quickly. You need to pace yourself and it’s likely there will be times you are exhausted by it all. Most marathon runners will tell you that what gets them through on race day is the cheering of the crowd. If they were stuck doing a virtual marathon at home (for example, because of a global pandemic), would they still complete the race? Some definitely will. But they’ll tell you it’s much harder. And they’ll be seeking out virtual cheers via social media.
Just like with marathon running, you need a support team to keep you going when you divorce. You need people who will cheer you on when morale is low. People you can check in with, who will ask how you’re getting on. People who will provide practical support (the divorce equivalent of energy drinks) when you need it.
Accountability keeps your divorce momentum going. Yes, it’s fine to rest, to take a break from it all. But accountability makes sure you come back – you’re not running away, you’re restoring your energy.
How can you get accountable?
The good news is, you can find accountability in plenty of places. And you don’t even need other people, so long as you’re disciplined!
Find an accountability partner
If you want to keep things simple, and know you just need someone to check in with regularly, get yourself an accountability partner. This could be a trusted friend, someone else going through divorce at the same time, a work acquaintance you respect, even.
A huge benefit to this informal system is it’s free. Just set yourselves a time to check-in and review progress. The downside is this tends to be a loosely held arrangement. Friends aren’t always the best placed to give you a kick up the bum when you need it.
And if they do are you up for being called out by your bestie? You don’t want their accountability to ruin your friendship. Get clear on your rules before you start so your friendship remains intact – and go for a trial period so you both have a get-out in case things don’t work out as you’d hoped.
Be your own accountability buddy
Maybe you don’t have a trusted group of people to turn to. It’s perfectly possible to hold yourself to account. It’s harder, but it’s doable. Your best chance of success is in getting organised.
At the start of each week set yourself three achievable goals. Then, at a set time each week, set a reminder in your phone to nudge you into doing them if they’ve slipped. Finally, towards the end of the week review how you got on.
Set aside specific times for this each week so it becomes a non-negotiable part of your routine. And if you want to get all schooly about it you can make yourself a reward chart with the promise of a big treat if you complete everything.
The self-accountability system has even more chance of going to the dogs than working with a buddy. So you do need to be disciplined. A notebook will help you. Rewards will help you. But ultimately it’s up to you to keep yourself on track.
Work with a pro
Of course I’m going to suggest you work with me to keep you motivated on your divorce journey! I have supported hundreds of women through divorce – I’ve celebrated alongside them and been by their (virtual) side as they hit rock bottom. My support has helped them get back up.
I know what you need to get your divorce motoring, and I can help you stick with it when the going it tough. I can help you work through what to do next when it feels like an impenetrable maze. And I can call you out when you’re getting in your own way.
There are two main ways to work with me.
Join The Absolute Academy
The Absolute Academy is my community of women who want to make smart decision in their divorce. They are committed to taking action and they know that being among other women like them will spur them on. When you going The Absolute Academy you also get access to Get Divorce Ready – a self-study course that takes you through everything you need to know to get organised for your divorce. And next month I’m supporting everyone in the group with a live version too – so now is a great time to join.
If you want absolute privacy as you navigate divorce, I am here for you. I can be the person you can trust with absolute certainty. I’ll help you understand the legalities and the financials. Together, I’ll help you figure out what you want and need from post-divorce life. I’ll help you work through emotional blocks holding you back. And yes, I’ll keep you accountable too. Find out more here.
So if 2021 is the year you get your divorce done, get some accountability! I’m here to help – just book in a chat if you’re not sure what you need right now.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is 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. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com