When I realized my marriage was over, one of the first things I started thinking about was how my life was going to change and not only change, but change for the worse. Everything was going to be harder. I was becoming a single parent for half my waking hours and I was starting that journey with drastically reduced financial circumstances. These thoughts were part of the reason why I had tried to make my marriage work for so long – it just seemed easier to try to hold things together than to start again with an entirely different set of harder circumstances.
I was heading into my divorce when a huge amount of fear and uncertainty. I also felt like everyone else: my ex, my lawyer and the overarching rules of society that define how a divorce must happen, were now controlling my life. I had no say in how my life would be from here on in.
I began to operate on automatic pilot and tried to do everything as quickly as I could to get through the entire divorce process.
I drove myself through our divorce process without every taking a time out to figure out what I wanted. We used the Collaborative Approach to divorce and after five meetings we had a draft separation agreement and were essentially done. The reason it took five months was because we could only have one four way legal meeting per month. We could not go any faster because it is challenging to book three to four hour sessions with four people (me, my ex and our respective lawyers) and their busy schedules. Our lawyers tried to get us to talk about what was important to us but I mostly thought to myself: “let’s get on with it!, can we stop talking about needs and values now?”
Then I entered a six week back to work program designed to help women find work. Again, I thought to myself as we worked through the first part of the program where we had to do endless self-analysis: “Can we get on with it? I need to write my resume.”
And then I was done. My divorce was finalized and I had my resume in hand.
But I was no closer to knowing what I wanted. I was still operating on fear and I still thought the best part of my life was behind me.
And nothing in my life appeared to be working. I was not getting a job. I was sending resumes off into what appeared to be the void as I heard absolutely nothing back from anyone. I was stuck, I was scared and I was unhappy.
Things did not begin working in my life until I took time to figure out what was important to me. Yes, I went on that mid-life crisis soul searching bender because I got to a point where fear would not drive me forward anymore. I had gotten to the point where fear immobilized me.
Figuring out what drives you is a journey and it never stops but about six months into my quest to discover what would get me happy again, I had a list of my seven core values (I’m a type A accountant – I like my lists) that I posted up on my wall.
What I have discovered is that list is very handy in making decisions in my life. It is especially handy for making money decisions. My list of values helped me determine how I am going to earn my money and how I am going to spend it.
If you are finding it challenging to make decisions around money, the way out is to do some good old navel gazing. Because if you know yourself, it’s not hard to know when making a spending choice does not work for you and it becomes a no-brainer when it does.