So you did it, you finally got divorced (or separated). 2015 may have been your worst year ever, especially if you just signed the divorce papers. And now a new year is upon you, and perhaps this is the first New Year where you feel hopeful.
But as you start over after divorce, it can be daunting, scary, and downright lonely. However, it doesn't have to be, if you make these resolutions to yourself, and stick to them:
1) Set healthy boundaries: If you were the person in the marriage that could never say "no," or you let things slide "just this once," then you were the pleaser in the relationship. And without healthy boundaries, a marriage is likely to fail. Neither partner should take advantage of the other, nor should anyone tolerate mean behavior. But over time, it becomes easier to not say anything at all, just to avoid an argument. But not anymore -- that's over now, and you need to build new walls, within healthy reason.
Make a list of what you won't tolerate, and your reactions to each. For example, should a friend cancel on you last minute, and you were really looking forward to your plans, how would you react? If the behavior continues and you're always getting blown off, then what will you do or say? Now's the time to practice this new voice of yours, so that maybe one day, it will be used in a new relationship.
2) Love yourself: As cliché and trite as this sounds, loving yourself is critical to starting over. This means you are gentle with yourself, and turn down that critical voice within. Internal statements like, "I'm so stupid" or, "How could I have been so blind?" are completely pointless and not productive. Whatever happened a year ago or five minutes ago is over, so stop focusing on it. Instead, just say, "Isn't that interesting," and that is all. There are volumes of books about loving yourself, so go research them. In fact, just the act of purchasing such a book is the first step of actually loving your being.
3) Journal: As a segue to loving yourself, keeping a journal and making it a daily practice is incredibly beneficial to keeping a positive mindset. This doesn't mean journaling about every tough day you had, or it be a place to beat yourself up. Journal at the beginning or end of each day, reflecting on the new things that happened, and what promises you will make to yourself the following day. Your journal should be a sacred book that honors who you are, and a place to manifest your hopes and dreams.
4) Manage your money: You either got a lump sum of money after your divorce, or your broke and in debt from legal fees. No matter your situation, it's important to talk with a financial planner about what to do with your money, or how to save. There are many planners who don't require a minimum balance in order to invest your money, but be sure to ask. That means if you have just $2,000 to work with, they can offer you guidance on how to make more money from what you have. Creating a budget and managing your money will give you incredible confidence, especially if you once relied on your spouse to handle your finances.
5) Know your truth: When you have spent years with another person, your beliefs may have become theirs, or vice versa. I often hear, "I have no idea who I am anymore," which means you don't have a solid footing of your own truth. But your truth is still there, you just need to tap into it. Start by writing down all that you believe, creating categories for your faith, friendship, workplace, world views, and romance. This exercise can really empower you, and make you realize you never lost your truth, you're just rediscovering it.
6) Don't date for fear of being alone: If you're feeling a void from your divorce, you're going to be tempted to fill it with another person. But trust me on this -- when you are feeling a lack from within, you will attract another with the same lack. If you are afraid of being alone, you will attract someone with the same fear, and who will likely end up smothering you. Rebounding after divorce for the fear of being alone will only bring you more pain and suffering, which is the last thing you need.
7) Make new friends: You may have noticed, but the friends you had when you were once a couple may have disappeared, or chosen sides (and not yours). Don't spend a lot of time trying to win them back, they aren't worth it. Now's the time to meet new friends -- and they are everywhere, you just need to get out there. You can find them on sites such as Meetup.com -- after my divorce, I liked to hike so I found a hiking group in my area, and met so many friendly people. Talk to your neighbors more, go to your work happy hours, or get involved in your faith organization. The options are endless!
8) Travel someplace new: This is the BEST part about being divorced -- no one can say 'no' to you after suggesting a place to vacation. You can go anywhere, so do it. Go alone if you have to. But for Pete's sake, don't NOT go because you think you shouldn't, or that you don't have enough money. You can get in your car and find the nearest waterfall, all for the price of nothing. But get out there and see the world, even if it's the town next to yours.
9) Find a new hobby: If you ever experienced the famous eye-roll from your ex-spouse when talking about your hobbies, then you likely shut down your interests for fear of retribution. Not anymore - you can now knit, sing, make pottery, paint, hunt, kayak, swim, and Pinterest to your heart's desire. Use that spare bedroom to create a space for your hobbies, and cherish it. (By the way, the more hobbies you have, the less awareness you have of being alone!)
10) Have gratitude: Every single day, write in your journal to express your gratitude. I started this practice years ago, and to this day I write a paragraph of gratitude before I start my day. When you are grateful, even in the darkest of days, you focus on the joy, which prevents you from complaining and being in a state of lack. When you feel abundant, more abundance comes to you. This sounds easy, but when everything feels like it's going wrong, the last thing you want to do is be thankful. But if you keep this a daily practice, your mind will actually shift into joy, which creates a positive thought vibration to the rest of your body. And before you know it, your post-divorce blues will actually turn into bliss.
Lindsey Ellison is a relationship coach, radio host, and founder of Start Over. Find Happiness, a coaching practice that helps women navigate through their divorce or breakups. She offers a new coaching program for those newly divorced or separated, and struggling with starting over. For information about this program, click here.