by Tara Eisenhard~ “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” –Yogi Berra
Unfortunately, there is no clear and easy roadmap through divorce. We each cut our own path through the forest of emotions, paperwork and legalese, and the journey is different for everyone. While some stride with joy, others shuffle and suffer.
My GOOD Divorce™ principles encourage couples to adopt a mindful approach to the process by harnessing the power of goals, observation, options and dignity. Goal setting is key to a respectful and successful separation. Realistic and responsible goals provide helpful guidance along the road to divorce. Goals keep the end in sight. Goals provide a measure for optional courses of action. Goals can save time, money and a lot of drama.
Ideally, partners will share certain goals while each maintains his or her personal vision for the future. Below are some considerations for setting goals for your divorce and the life you build anew.
What kind of process do you want to have? Divorce can be a wild ride, but it usually doesn’t start out that way. In the beginning, before the attorneys are hired, couples often continue to talk and even lean on each other for support. This is the best time to discuss joint goals for the divorce process itself. Will you retain separate attorneys? Do you want to try mediation or the collaborative divorce process? Can you remain friendly or is it best to set boundaries to allow more distance? How much are each of you willing to spend on the divorce? Will you follow a co-parenting or parallel parenting model? Do you agree to keep your children out of the middle? If so, what will you do to protect them?
What type of parent do you want to be? Moms and dads might have different parenting styles, which can be indulged to a greater degree after divorce. Will you run a tight ship? Or will you be a more relaxed parent? In what ways will you continue to bond with your children? How will you establish open lines of communication? Are there any new family rules or rituals you’d like to employ?
Where, and how, will you live? Think about your finances. As monetary resources are stretched between two households, individuals must adjust to a new monthly budget and changes are often necessary. Is it appropriate to obtain more affordable housing? Should you move closer to work or closer to relatives? Do you want to get a higher-paying job? How much can and should you put away in savings each month? Where can you afford to cut costs?
Consider the relationships in your life. As a couple separates, relations change. Do you want to maintain a positive connection to your ex in-laws? Would you prefer to let go of certain ties while establishing others? This is also a good time to consider which personal friendships are supporting you and which are dragging you down. Grow and whittle your network accordingly. When you’re ready, outline your wants and needs for future romantic partnerships.
Commit to self-care. While it’s easy to neglect your personal needs during a divorce, it’s not recommended. Survival instructions in life are much like those on an airplane: put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then help others. What can you do to meet your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs? How much time can you schedule to take care of You? Should you set up a specific savings account for special splurges? Or will you find your grounding in low-cost bubble baths and meditation?
Some of your goals will depend on specific timelines while others will be associated with strict budgets. You might opt for the assistance of a spreadsheet or the excitement of a vision board to keep you on track. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends or professionals to help you stay motivated, encouraged and prepared for the life that awaits you.