Just turn it all off. All the brand-new you New Year goals. All the stuff that says this is the time for your total transformation. All the stuff that begins January 2nd and fades away by March. This new year is all about ditching the guilt and moving forward. Tough to do when everyone is waving the answer in your face, with a deadline to begin. For the first time, in maybe a long time, your future is in your own hands. Time to get reacquainted with what you want. No time like the present. Shall we?
It’s All About You: New Year Goals
There are no clever names for what comes next, because it’s personal. What works for you may not be the right thing for everyone. That’s your first step, realizing that you’re unique. Too often we try to fit into the mold of whatever is the latest and greatest. Be strong. Be vulnerable. Share. Be silent. In reality, you need to be you, and you need to embrace those things that work for you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stretch yourself at times to try something new, but it’s okay if what you choose is in alignment with who you are.
Divorce itself is a huge change, and it can take time to adjust to your new normal. It is self-defeating to heap unrealistic requirements on top of the resolution you’re already undertaking: starting over. Artificial timetables and deadlines don’t help. What does?
Getting to Know You Again
Marriage changes everyone, and both parties learn to compromise and accommodate each other. It’s often gradual, and you don’t even notice it’s happening, until one day you realize it’s been ages since you’ve… well, fill in the blank. Take some time to try and remember those things you liked to do. Things that maybe didn’t fit so well when you were married. Maybe you liked to hike, or scuba dive or spend hours in vintage bookstores. Maybe you liked history or playing an instrument. Think about it, and try your hand at things you used to do. Maybe it was cycling; you know what they say about riding a bike. You never forget.
Do I Know You?
Part of a new life in a new year is new people. Sure, you can explore any number of online dating services, but exploring new connections in the everyday takes off the pressure and allows you the freedom to just be you. Chat with the vendors at the local farmers market. Hold the door and smile at the person going through. Make eye contact. These small connections and kindnesses aren’t part of a grander plan to find a new life partner. It’s part of a plan to make your life sweeter, to feel part of a community.
But what about…
Just stop. Stop worrying about what other people think. Truth be told, most folks have enough on their plates to wonder what’s on yours. Just think about your everyday to-do list; some days it’s difficult to complete half of it, let alone worry about someone else’s. Think of it like a yoga practice. In yoga, your focus is turned inward as you seek to achieve the most benefit, and everyone progresses at their own pace. Same deal here.
Slow Growth = Strong Roots
Slow is hard. There’s no dramatic, instantaneous change. And no catchy tagline. But there are long-lasting benefits to moving one step at a time. Slow growth and small changes turn into forever changes. Can you run a marathon this weekend if you’ve never run before, or trained at all? Maybe, but most likely it won’t be pretty, and you won’t feel great afterward. Worse yet, you may injure yourself, or quit, and then it’s likely you’ll abandon the whole idea. But what if you start with a 5K? Walk it, run it, do anything to complete the 3.1 miles. It may still be hard, but it’s doable, and your sense of accomplishment can push you to try the next level.
Try and look past the flashing lights to see what you’d like to accomplish. It may look easier when someone else lays out a plan for you, but choosing a realistic plan, you develop yourself will promote those strong roots we all need to keep moving forward.
Just Do It.
Here’s the thing: you need to decide what it is. Yes, there’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a new, single life. And you need to invest the time, but then you need to do something. It doesn’t need to be a huge, life-changing event. It needs to be a small win that puts you on the path to success. Tired of ready made meals and takeout? Maybe try a cooking class. Too big? Get a cookbook and get cooking. But do something. Humans are lifelong students. We change and grow constantly, and learning something new, albeit small, stimulates the brain. It makes you feel better and gives your confidence a boost. What’s not to like? Naming and pursuing small new year goals as part of the bigger picture is far more attainable than lofty, vague goals that are unmanageable. Small goal: I’d like to take a cooking class so that I could make my own meals and ditch takeout. It’s defined and doable. Lofty goal: I want to eat healthily. Where do I begin? What defines healthy? Will I eat at certain restaurants, or research the internet? Maybe I should try one of the popular diets? Maybe I should eliminate gluten. Not defined and difficult to start. Don’t sabotage your success by being too open-ended to begin. Small successes add up.
My Friends Liked the Old Me
This can be a tough one. If you begin pursuing new interests and new year goals that aren’t in alignment with the old you, that’s okay. Just like we tell our children, your true friends are with you for the long haul. And again, as we tell the kiddos, we aren’t always going to like the same things. And that’s okay. Some will stay, and some will go, and there will be new ones along the way. Think about what our mothers used to ask us. “If your friend jumps off a cliff, are you going to follow him?” Now is the time to choose what’s right for you. It’s not a committee decision.
Yes, you’re divorced, and life is certainly different. But in many respects, you’re just like everyone else. A work-in-progress. You may not see it in other folks, but it’s there in everyone, whether we admit it or not. You are certainly not alone; everyone struggles from time to time with the question of who am I now, and it changes. Married, single, divorced, widowed, new babies and empty nests. Everyone. The only thing that’s different is the choices we make to address the changes in life. It’s never one-and-done. It is a process, one that we each define for ourselves.
So, take a deep breath. Maybe two. You can do this. Once you accept the process and the pace and experience success with small wins, change happens. If you don’t like the change, you can always alter the path again. It’s the beautiful part of being master of your own destiny. The choice is always yours.