Whether it is your first New Year’s Eve divorced or your 50th, it is never too late to make New Year’s resolutions. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “been there, done that.” I get it. I have been there and done that myself, meaning I had made resolutions that I broke, sometimes even before I tried to keep them. And the reason is that my resolutions were either so unrealistic that keeping them would be a hardship in an immediate sense or they were so lacking in meaning that I didn’t even care to try.
What I realized after my first marriage ended was that I needed to work on my happiness, starting first with setting short-term goals I could reasonably hope to achieve. Regardless if I was trying to meditate for longer periods, exercise more often, sleep longer each night (which is still a work in progress), or whatever else I was striving to attain, I recognized certain general principles that when set in motion could make my individual goals become a reality.
My divorce resolutions, as I now call them, are not resolutions in the strictest sense of the word but, instead, driving principles that all of us can apply to our lives, particularly if we are currently divorcing or are already divorced. The best part is, it is never too late to implement them, even if New Year’s Eve has come and gone before you even realized or is only a few weeks away. Here they are.
1. Forgive yourself. Except in cases of abuse, both people in a relationship contribute to its success as well as its failure, even though the contribution may not be equal if quantifiable at all. Taking responsibility for our part in the breakdown of our marriage is not easy and will only happen after a lot of contemplation and introspection. Upon reaching that point, we may next go through a period where we blame ourselves and feel badly. That is okay as long as we don’t persist in doing so for too long. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. Then we must forgive ourselves and move on. The past is the past, but the future is ours for the taking.
2. Forgive others. A corollary to number one is to forgive others, whether it is your spouse or someone else. True, forgiving can give another person the closure they either want or need. Even if that person does not want or believe they need your forgiveness, consider forgiving them regardless – for yourself. It is not necessary to tell the person you are forgiving either if you do not want to. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves that others can benefit from only if they so choose.
3. Allow leeway. “You want me to do what?” you may be thinking. Just hear me out. Allowing yourself to cheat does not mean deliberately setting out to break your resolutions. However, it does not mean not deliberately breaking them either. If you inadvertently break your resolutions, cut yourself some slack. Each one of us is capable of a slip up once in a while. But you need not continue suffering for it. Likewise, if you only feel as though you are ready for a reprieve from your resolution, as long as you are not hurting yourself or others, allow yourself a cheat day. Go for the cookie if it will help you maintain your healthy style of living in the long term. However, do not use this resolution as an excuse to do wrong by someone else. Always use your judgment.
4. Try again. If you do break your resolution deliberately or otherwise, do not give up. We all screw up sometimes, even me. The point is not to wallow in self-pity, regret, or doubt. The moment we do is when we stop moving forward. And the best way to move forward is to…
5. Take it day by day. Hour by hour. Even minute by minute if necessary. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. Your post-divorce life will not be either. Victories are victories regardless of how big or small. So enjoy those wins, even if they do not seem significant at the time. At some point, you will reap the rewards by way of a new, better life, which is clearly the best resolution of all.