Consider it a journey.
Making the decision to file for divorce with a one-year-old during the 2009 recession was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. My family was disappointed in my choice, I was second-guessing my choices and my self-esteem was at an all-time low.
While it was not easy getting through that first couple of years, the biggest lesson that I learned is with anything, it does get better with time. I also learned that going through adversity inevitably teaches you life lessons that can be useful the next time you’re faced with struggles.
Overcoming the hardships of divorce myself, my hope is that these tips and tricks for how to recover from divorce and find happiness will help you or someone you know do the same.
1. Focus on yourself, not everyone else.
Comparison is the thief of joy and when you are feeling down it is easy to look at others and imagine that they have some “perfect” life that’s just not in the cards for you. While others may appear one way on the outside, you never know what is going on in someone’s life on the inside.
Making the decision to focus on me and look at the steps that I could take to empower myself and change my life felt good. I slowly stopped looking at others and instead spent time feeling proud of the steps I was taking and where I was going.
When you keep the focus on you, you keep your head high and stay in control of your plan. You are the only person standing in your way and when you decide to accept that and do something about it, everything will change for you.
2. Find your passion.
Growing up without financial security left me constantly chasing a paycheck. I had no idea that life could be any other way. As I have grown older, I realized that following your passions in life is a much better approach. If you didn’t do it when you were young, don’t worry.
In my thirties, a mentor of mine asked me to pick my head up and figure out what it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I hadn’t stopped to think about what I wanted for the future as I was always too bogged down in getting through today. Taking time to think about what I loved doing and finding ways to spend time there really began to open new doors for me.
Many people have full-time jobs and dabble in their passions on the side. I started doing charity work on the weekends and ultimately launched my own brand around empowering women. I still have my full-time career but now I also spend time following my passions. When you incorporate your talents and passions into your day to day, you will learn how to recover from divorce and lead a more happy and fulfilled life.
3. Put yourself first.
When I first had my son, I thought the idea of me leaving him other than for work was selfish. What I have learned since those early days is it is actually selfish to make yourself a martyr and be irritated that you “can’t” do anything for yourself.
As I started going to the gym, I was feeling better about me. Then, I began to date and started to see that making time for my life and me was a huge step to being a happier, better mother, employee, and person. Make time to do the things that are important to you and your life will be better for it.
4. Work on building up your confidence a little bit every day.
Confidence is like a muscle and it can be developed once you make the decision to do it. When I found myself down, the last thing I wanted to do was put on a beautiful dress and do my hair. Eventually, I realized that when I did dress up and put the effort in I began to feel better about myself.
I decided to fire friends that would bring me down and instead surround myself with my supporters that lift me up. I knew that I needed to speak kindly to myself so I made the choice to use words I would use when I spoke to my baby. I chose loving and supportive words when I would have my internal conversations. I began to keep a gratitude journal where I would record what I was grateful for and what I had accomplished.
Tracking my small accomplishments brought me such strength, which allowed me to grow. Reminding myself that Fear is a Liar and that I can choose to see things as opportunities rather than obstacles shifted my perception. Taking small steps each day allowed me to build my confidence and that was key in improving my life.
5. Learn from your failures.
Everyone is going to fail from time to time. Accepting that everyone fails and instead of dwelling on failures or beating myself up, I decided to celebrate them. I realized that each failure was me taking another step towards achieving my goals.
There are countless success stories where someone is so close to quitting but they give it one more chance. I decided that each failure was getting me closer to my ultimate success and the only real failure out there was doing nothing at all. Celebrate your wins and celebrate your failures even more.
And remember, you are one step closer today than you were yesterday.
Heather Monahan, aka #BossinHeels, runs Heather Monahan, LLC, a mentoring group that advises women on various workplace issues. Transparency around her struggles as a single mom and her own life challenges and successes allows her to connect with others, celebrate their attributes and teach them to leverage these traits in their favor. A native of Worcester, MA, and graduate of Clark University with a liberal arts degree in Psychology, Heather has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience.