Why do we make New Year’s resolutions? Because we desire change for the better. But, for those dealing with divorce, resolutions may offer much-needed hope for the future.
Resolutions are meant to give us a boost and promote positive change. However, if you think back to your past resolutions, it's likely that many of them were driven by a need to curb or eliminate certain behaviors — “quit” smoking, spend “less” money, “lose” weight. How depressing!
Instead, how about focusing on positive changes that would naturally yield your desired end results? “Start” exercising, “increase” water intake, “build” better relationships. Doesn’t that sound better?
Focus on Positive Outcomes, Not Negative Habits
Why is it that many people who commit to New Year’s resolutions fail to keep up with them for more than a month or two?
One reason is that resolutions are so often focused on getting rid of bad habits, removing the negatives. We make the resolutions without thinking them through. And adding a divorce to the mix brings a bag of emotions and difficulties that hampers an otherwise valiant effort to keep our resolutions. After a few weeks, the weight of the commitment becomes too much to carry.
Forget about eliminating the negatives. Build upon positive change — make your good better and your better the best. Create resolutions that add positives, and you will be heading towards the right direction.
Set Manageable Goals and Define Your ‘Why’
An old English adage says, “When you take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves.” For our purposes, this simply means divide your resolutions into small, easily achievable positive changes. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the scope of a larger goal.
Just as important is setting realistic, achievable goals. By reaching beyond reasonable means, you set yourself up for failure, which is hard to recover from, especially when you’re recovering from divorce.
You also need to identify the purpose of your New Year’s resolution, the “why” behind it. When the why is strong enough, it will provide you with the motivation to maintain the action. Focus on the end result, not the means of getting there.
Reduce Stress and Reward Yourself
Recovering from divorce and starting life anew can be exhilarating, but also stressful. Incorporate into your resolutions a way to achieve stress-free living. It might be adding an exercise class, listening to meditative CDs in your car, enjoying your evenings without the cell phone — anything that will allow you time to relax and re-energize.
And don’t forget to treat yourself for your achievements, both big and small. This will help you maintain your momentum and motivate you to continue to the next step to reaching your ultimate goal.
Create Good Habits
To create a new positive habit, keep motivating yourself until that positive change becomes natural. A well-known rule of thumb is that repeating an action for 30 days transforms it into a habit.
Dealing with divorce, especially when those around you are celebrating the new year, can be difficult. But by implementing positive changes in your life through your New Year’s resolutions, you’ll be off to a fresh, promising start for the new year
Tolu Adeleye, Ph.D. is a life transition expert. Through her company – Contemporary Lifestyle Consulting Inc., she provides resources for managing life transitions and career-related changes. For more tools for navigating through college transition, marriage, new parenting, divorce, midlife explorations, career change, empty nesting, relocation, and retirement, visit www.staysanethroughchange.com
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