Courage And Freedom

For me, my life has been one big life lesson in courage and freedom. Thus it comes as no surprise that helping others find the courage to reach financial freedom has been my career path for the past fifteen years.

As a wealth advisor, I help others have the courage to pursue their dreams and create the financial freedom to live joyful and abundant lives. Does that equate to living a life full of roses—the answer can only be yes if one accepts the thorns alongside the beauty.

The key to embracing our life purpose lies in embracing the challenges along the road to freedom, facing the fears that otherwise hold us back and having the awareness that without a roadmap in hand, financial freedom is but a fleeting dream. It takes real courage to invest one’s money into a volatile market gripped with global economic uncertainty. Throwing caution to the wind is not prudent. But with careful consideration of one’s goals and objectives, flavored with a bias towards risk management, and courage to correct course along the way, financial freedom becomes reality.

We all go through transitions in life—affectionately called “stressors”—-marriage, births, job loss, career changes, major illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, moves, retirement, to name but a few. All transitions share a commonality—they take courage—courage to overcome our fears and courage to embrace the change that results from each event. Financial freedom makes the transitions less stressful. And sometimes the financial freedom comes as a result of the transitions. And yet, financial freedom takes focus, effort, work, determination, and courage.

If you are seeking courage and freedom, then “When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. It has nothing new to say.” With an open mind you can explore, create, and grow, remembering all the while that progress would be impossible if we continue to do things the way we always have. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death—and saddling up anyway.”

So “saddle up”—find the courage to create a life full of freedom, joy, happiness, and abundance and you will know you are truly living!

This article was contributed by Janet Woods, Wealth Advisor, UBS Financial Services, Inc., 214-373-5918 www.ubs.com/fa/janetlwoods

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What are your financial goals? Most people dealing with divorce need to visit this question. Divorce usually changes finances dramatically, yet it doesn’t have to ruin your financial future. Allow yourself the freedom to really assess what your financial goals are.

What do you need to do to achieve your financial goals? This is one of those times when it’s important to know what you need before you can ask for help. Everyone has a unique financial situation when they complete their divorce. Some people need to figure out how to invest a lump sum from a retirement account, some people need to find a job, and some people need to figure out how to rebalance their portfolio. Whatever your unique situation is, spending a bit of time figuring out what your most immediate need is will allow you to know exactly whom you need to request assistance from.

Luckily, I know you know how to ask for help (you wouldn’t have found this newsletter if you didn’t) and so you’ll be able to start on your path to reaching your financial goals by working with the correct professional for you. BUT, if you need an assist in knowing which type of professional to work with, I’m only a phone call or email away.

© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

No More Robots!

When you got married, chances are it was a happy occasion and you had dreams of “Happily Ever After.” Leaving the idea of “Happily Ever After” and getting to the point in a marriage when divorce becomes a viable option is usually extremely painful and confusing. Actually making the decision to divorce is rarely easy.

Although the decision to divorce is strictly between you and your spouse, there are 3 different ways you can know when it’s time to make a dramatic change in your marriage.

  1. You’re feeling robotic and just going through the motions. If you find that your marriage is just kinda there – you each do the minimum to maintain the relationship – it’s time for something to change. You deserve to have your marriage be meaningful. Overall, your primary relationship should contribute positively to the quality of your life.
  2. You’re stuck in analysis paralysis. If you can’t make up your mind about whether or not something needs to change in your marriage, then you’re experiencing analysis paralysis. What I’ve discovered when I find myself in situations like this is that I’m lacking courage. If I have an inkling that something needs to change, it does! Debating with myself about whether or not I trust myself is a waste of time and has the potential to further damage the relationship. My time is better spent by figuring out what needs to change and then taking the action to make things better.
  3. You’re hiding yourself. We all wear masks of one form or another to get along. It’s part of our socialization. Think about it, how many times do you automatically respond “Fine.” when someone asks you how you’re doing? We may be having a miserable day, but we still respond “Fine.” The problem with purposely hiding yourself in your marriage is that besides denying who we are we’re also preventing ourselves from having the real benefits of being in an intimate relationship with our spouse. Relationships are meant to support us and prove a safe place for us to be us. If you feel like you can’t be you, it’s definitely time for something to change.

It’s natural for every relationship to grow and change over time. Each of the situations described above is just an indicator that a change is needed – not that you need to divorce. By recognizing that your marriage is in one of these situations, you might even be able to make the necessary changes to save your marriage and avoid divorce altogether. However, to accomplish this takes courage, the willingness to be vulnerable and a determination to eliminate robotic responses.

Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:

Which of these situations remind you most of your marriage? Every relationship needs to change at various times. Sometimes the change that needs to happen is one that you need to make, sometimes it’s something you need to discuss with the other person and ask them to make, and most of the time you both need to make adjustments.

What adjustments would make your marriage or your next relationship better? Getting clarity about what would improve the relationship in your opinion is vital. You might be able to do this on your own or you might need to discuss it with the other person. Once you have the needed clarity it will be much easier to improve your marriage and/or avoid the same situations in your next relationship.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

(c) 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

A Designer’s Perspective

This week Hugh Scarbrough, ASID, RID, owner and founder of Hugh Scarbrough Interior Design, LLC, is our guest blogger. Hugh realizes design dreams for his clients that reflect their lifestyles, building client relationships for a lifetime. Touting more than ten years in the industry, he seamlessly blends his exprertise, education as a registered interior designer, and retail/worldwide travel experiences that serve his clients well.

To learn more about Hugh and his work, visit www.hughinteriors.com.

Summertime. June has arrived and so have the “lazy, sunny, and hot days” of summer! It is time for picnics, water sports and relaxing vacations. It is also a perfect time to create a new look in your home or summer retreat.

This year colors abound in design for summer. As I walked through the new fabric showrooms recently, I noticed the bright and colorful prints and paint colors: Chartreuse green; magenta pink; sunny yellow; striking blue; powerful red. Truly colors of the season! Seeing these beautiful colors sparked my excitement about the fun it is to incorporate summer colors into a home.

With the beginning of summer and a transition in your life, perhaps this is an excellent time to create a new look for your home, make a fresh start, and build lasting memories. Whether your style is contemporary or traditional, the bright summer colors may be integrated into the design you choose.

You may have a reluctance to create a new look in your home due to painful memories, including items of certain colors. If one or more of the bright summer colors ignite uncomfortable and/or angry feelings, for example, you may want to look at the colors from a different perspective. As it is important to have the “right” balance of color in a room, using those colors differently may create a fun and uplifting environment.

If you seek guidance from a professional interior designer, express the style you would like to create and the challenges you may be having with certain feelings, such as anger or anxiety. Colors have enormous impact on our moods. Red, for example, increases physical energy and vitality; at the same, it may provoke anger. If red is negative for you, focusing on greens, blues, and even yellows may be the wise direction for re-doing the design in your home. The color green supports balance and harmony. Blue denotes calmness and peace. And yellow increases lightness and personal power. A true balance for our homes and our lives.

As you are making plans for the summer, it is the perfect time to take a look at your home or “escape” retreat. Perhaps a new and nurturing design look may just be the answer!

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

How can you add a bit of summer to your home? I love glass sculpture and I’ve recently added some beautiful aqua vases to my office to make it more summery. You might want to add a throw pillow or a throw to your home to bring the sunshine inside.

© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

Divorce and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

As I’ve mentioned before, I do a lot of reading and I’ll often be reading several books at the same time. I’ll pick up whichever one fits my mood when I have a few moments to read.

One of the books I’ve got open these days is The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life by Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow, M.D. I found one particular passage interesting because it reminded me about perspective and how my life has changed since I got divorced. The passage is actually a quote from Robert Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which I read about a year after my divorce was final. Here’s the passage:

The trap consists of a hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed through a small hole. The hole is big enough so that the monkey’s hand can go in, but too small for his fist with rice in it to come out. The monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped – by nothing more than his own value rigidity. He can’t revalue the rice. He cannot see that freedom without rice is more valuable than capture with it. The villagers are coming to get him and take him away. They’re coming closer…closer!…now!…

There is a fact this monkey should know: if he opens his hand he’s free. But how is he going to discover this fact? Be removing the value rigidity that rates rice above freedom. How is he going to do that? Well, he should somehow try to slow down deliberately and go over ground that he has been over before and see if things he thought were important really were important and, well, stop yanking and just stare at the coconut for a while. Before long he should get a nibble from a little fact wondering if he is interested in it. He should try to understand this fact not so much in terms of his big problem as for its own sake. That problem may not be as big as he thinks it is. That fact may not be as small as he thinks it is either.

When I got divorced, I felt like that trapped monkey – terrified and held captive by my fears about what I thought was important at the time. What I thought was important back then was that my life after divorce needed to work pretty much exactly the same as it had before my divorce – except that I now had an ex-husband. This was the fact whose nibbling I ignored. I ignored the reality that one person cannot be as productive as two people working together. I ignored that it would take me longer to do all of the household chores on my own instead of sharing them with someone else. I ignored the fact that caring for 3 attention-loving pets on my own would be more of a challenge than it was when I was married. I ignored these realities and expected that I could do it all with at least as high a quality as had been done pre-separation and divorce.

I kept ignoring all of these facts about my home life and kept expecting that I could and should do it all as had been done before. I also kept expecting the same high-level of performance from myself at work, at the gym and at play. I expected so much of myself that I virtually eliminated any time for myself – any down time to just relax. I had built a very elaborate trap for myself – one that kept me frazzled and eventually led to burnout.

Today, more than 10 years later, I’m amazed by what an elaborate trap I had created for myself.

The thing is, I’m not the only person who got divorced and created a trap. I regularly meet and work with divorced people who create their own elaborate captivities.

Back then, just like the people I meet and work with today, I simply wasn’t capable of identifying my captivity when I got divorced. I thought it was just how my life was and that somehow I was defective because I couldn’t keep up with everything I thought I had to keep up with. Today I know that wasn’t the case. Today, I know that back then I wanted my rice (all my expectations of myself) and didn’t realize I was selling my freedom to have it.

Like most people dealing with divorce, I’ll bet that you are holding yourself captive unnecessarily too. Check out Your Functional Divorce Assignment to help you identify and loosen the bonds of your trap.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What trap are you in? There are all kinds of traps people create for themselves when they get divorced. Maybe your trap is similar to mine in that you expect your life to be pretty much the same. Maybe your trap is a belief that you’re too old to ever find another significant other. Maybe your trap is a belief that you have no employable skills and no way of getting any. Or maybe your trap is something else all together. It could be big or small, the size doesn’t matter. What does matter is identifying how you are feeling captive.

What are the reasons you believe your trap exists? Come up with every single reason your trap is real no matter how small or how big. You might want to write them down so you can get them out of your head and make sure you’ve got them all covered. Besides, having them all listed in one place will help you with the next step.

For each of the reasons, ask yourself “Is this reason 100% true?” and “What makes this reason true?” I wish I had known how to ask myself these questions when I was recovering from my divorce. What often happens when I compassionately ask my clients both questions is that they’ll start to get a nibble of a fact they had been ignoring. That nibble will often lead to a new idea or a new perspective that allows their trap to be loosened – at least a little bit – which will often entirely change their trap if not eliminate it completely.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.

If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.

21 Tips For Surviving The Holidays

The holiday season is typically a time for celebration with friends and family. Yet, when you’re divorcing, the holiday season can feel anything but merry. To help you enjoy this holiday season instead of dreading it, here are 21 tips you can use today.

1. Be patient

Even in the best of times, the holidays are usually a bit hectic. However, when you’re celebrating the holidays for the first time on your own, they can feel more than hectic. They can feel overwhelming! You’ve got so much going on emotionally with the divorce that the added tasks, events and scheduling of the holidays can all be just a bit too much. Be patient with yourself and your kids as you navigate the holidays. This is new and different for everyone and a little patience will go a long way toward making your first holidays post-separation/divorce enjoyable.

2. Be flexible

The holidays are about celebrating with family and friends and don’t HAVE to occur on only one specific day. I find that people with children who are celebrating the holidays for the first time as a single parent often get tied up in the idea that holidays can only happen on the official day marked on the calendar. For example, it’s not unusual for them to think that Thanksgiving Day can ONLY happen on the fourth Thursday of November. However, with a bit of advanced planning (See hint 16.), you may decide that Thanksgiving will actually happen the Saturday before the fourth Thursday of November so you can celebrate it with your kids. Having Thanksgiving early even has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid the crowd buying their last-minute turkey and fixings on the Saturday before the fourth Thursday of November.

3. Focus on others

Another way to enjoy the holiday season is to focus on those less fortunate than you. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a center that provides holiday “shopping” for needy families. I can guarantee that when you focus on providing joy for those less fortunate than you, an amazing thing happens; you forget about your troubles and appreciate what you do have even more.

4. It’s not about the stuff!

Gift giving is often a big part of the holiday season and with separation and divorce, the funds available for gift giving are usually less. However, gifts don’t need to be purchased to be appreciated. Sometimes the gift of time and attention means more than any store-bought gift ever could.

5. Let happiness happen

For a lot of people going through divorce, it can seem strange to experience any emotion other than some form of upset. Divorce is an upsetting event that can be almost all consuming. However, if you start to feel happy as a result of the holiday events, ENJOY the feeling! You deserve to be happy.

6. Reach out to family and friends

Almost everyone I know wishes someone could read their mind and offer help when it’s needed. On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who can read minds with any real reliability. The message here is if you need a little extra help to get your holidays merrier, be sure and ask for it. Don’t wait for someone to guess what you need.

7. Make new family traditions

With divorce so many things change. Some of these changes are not so comfortable, but some of these changes are good and might even be fun. What new family tradition can you introduce this holiday season to keep things fun?

8. Nix the guilt

So many divorced parents feel guilty about how the kids’ holidays will be different. The thing is different doesn’t mean bad or wrong. Different is just different. If you nix the guilt and embrace the new way your holidays will be, then your kids will enjoy the holidays too.

9. Work with your ex in a cooperative manner for kids sake

One of the things I always tell my clients is that their divorce is between them and their former spouse. The holidays can be a wonderful experience for the kids provided that’s the shared goal you and your former spouse have for them.

10. Continue your traditions, but simplify them

You may have holiday traditions that are important to you, but they just are not possible now that you’re divorced. What can you do to tweak these traditions so that you can still have them?

For example, maybe you had a holiday tradition of going skiing. If that kind of a trip isn’t possible this year, you may choose to do something else that captures the essence of the traditional ski trip. You may decide to play ski jumping on the Wii, have a marshmallow fight instead of a snowball fight and drink hot chocolate afterwards. Let your creativity flow and I know you’ll be able to create a modified tradition this year that you’ll still enjoy.

11. Don’t spend the holidays alone

It can be tempting to crawl into a cave and hibernate during our first holidays alone – especially if your ex has the kids. However, I urge you to resist the temptation. There’s no reason to punish yourself, for that’s what hiding in a cave during the holidays is. I’m not saying that you don’t need time alone. You absolutely do. I’m just suggesting that instead of spending all of the holiday season alone, make an effort to go out and spend some time with others. I promise that you’ll get a different perspective of your first holidays alone if you open yourself up to even a little fun celebrating the holidays with others.

12. Take care of your health

The funny thing about the holiday season is that it coincides with the cold and flu season. This, along with the stress that usually accompanies divorce, makes you a bit more susceptible to catching a bug. So, take good care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, exercise and good nutrition.

13. Give yourself a gift

This being the first holiday season post separation/divorce, you probably won’t be receiving a gift from your ex. The thing is, you probably won’t be buying them a gift either. Since your gift giving list has decreased by at least one, why not add yourself to your list? Go ahead and buy yourself something that you’ll truly enjoy this holiday season. (You may also want to make sure it’s not something that you’ll regret purchasing in the New Year when the payments for it start.)

14. Count your blessings

It’s easy to get caught up in what’s different this holiday season – in the negative sense. Flip that upside down and count what’s different AND positive this holiday season.

15. Lean on your faith

Whatever your beliefs are, you just might be able to find solace in your faith when you’re not feeling the “Ho Ho Ho!” in the holidays.

16. Plan ahead

The most important thing to have when you want something to happen at a certain time is a plan. Wanting to have happy holidays requires a plan too. Plan ahead to make it more likely you’ll have a happy holiday season.

17. Cultivate gratitude

Developing an attitude of gratitude does wonders for the way you view the world. This was one of the most important skills I developed when I got divorced. It helped me to be more positive and proactive about changing the things that needed to be changed not just at the holidays, but year-round.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

18. What do you love most about holiday season?

People like the cooler weather, giving and receiving gifts, decorations. Whatever it is that you love most about the holiday season, figure out a way to get more of it. Once you do that, you’ll definitely have happier holidays.

19. What activities put you in a holiday mood?

When I ask clients this question I hear answers like shopping, parties, decorating, watching football, Christmas lights, and caroling. The next question I ask them is “How can you do more of these and get even more enjoyment out of the holiday season?” What are you answers to these two questions?

20. Be realistic

Your life is in the midst of a major change. For most people, separation and divorce brings increased responsibilities along with decreased financial means and free-time. Be sure and factor these facts in this holiday season. If you do, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier to be realistic with the expectations you have of yourself, your family and the holidays this year.

21. One holiday at a time

The holiday season can easily be a blur of activities that pretty much start as soon as the jack-o-lantern is off the front porch on the morning of November 1st. Prevent the blur by focusing on just one holiday at a time. Avoid multi-tasking and the potential for overwhelm by taking the holidays just as they come, one… at… a… time.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Choose one of the tips to implement immediately. Sometimes seeing a long list of tips can cause us to start to gloss over them. I know these tips work, so take a moment now and choose one of them that you can implement right now and then do it!

Choose a tip that addresses your biggest concern about the holidays and put it to use. It’s pretty normal for the tip that can be most helpful to not necessarily be the easiest to implement. If that’s the case for you, take a moment now and select the tip that would address your biggest concern. And, when you’re ready, take a deep breath and figure out how you can implement that tip to help you enjoy your holidays just a bit more.

Come back to the tips frequently throughout the holiday season. Just because you’ve tried a tip out once doesn’t mean that you’re done with it. Keep these tips handy and visit them throughout the holidays anytime you could use a little bit of help. And, of course, if you’d like to schedule a Complimentary Consultation with me to discuss your particular situation, just send me an email or give me a call.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

© 2012 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

Stop Scaring Yourself!

books about dealing with divorce

Here’s how to stop letting your imagination make things seem so much worse than they really are.

Since it’s the season for scary stuff, I thought I’d tell you a couple of horror stories I told myself when I was getting divorced. The first story is the everyday story. The second is the special event story.

I’ll start with the everyday story. I started telling myself various versions of this story shortly after my ex-husband and I separated in March of 2002.

My fears were LARGE. They invaded almost every facet of my life. I was afraid of living alone. I was afraid of not being able to support myself. I was afraid that I’d get sick from eating food that had gone bad. I was afraid of getting fat. I was afraid of getting old. I was afraid of losing my job.

I’m guessing you get the picture. It’s what I used to do with each of these fears that made up the everyday story.

Here’s one version of the story. I’m afraid of losing my job. Then I’d tell myself that if I lost my job, then I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay my bills. If I wasn’t able to pay my bills, then I’d lose my house and have to live on the street. If I had to live on the street then I wouldn’t’ survive long and I’d die a horrible death.

Here’s another version of the story. I’m afraid of getting fat. If I get fat, then no one will ever want to date me. If no one ever wants to date me, then I’ll never get remarried. If I never get remarried, then I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. If I’m alone for the rest of my life, I’ll be living alone forever (which amped up the scary factor). If I’m living alone forever, then what would happen if I lost my job? If I lost my job then I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. If I can’t pay my bills, then I’ll lose my house and have to live on the street. If I had to live on the street then I wouldn’t survive long and I’d die a horrible death.

Are you getting the idea of my everyday story? I was convinced that if any one of my fears came true then I wouldn’t survive long and I was going to die a horrible death.

OK, now for the special event story.

Shortly before my divorce was finalized, some friends from graduate school invited me to join them in Spain. Although I was in desperate need of a vacation, it took some convincing before I finally agreed to join them in Spain for a week. Initially, I needed convincing because I was afraid of spending the money just in case I lost my job. (Yes, that does mean that I started telling myself the everyday story.)

As the day for departure approached, I was happily anticipating and dreading it at the same time. I started telling myself that I was a horrible person because I was getting divorced and that I deserved to die. The closer the day for departure loomed, the more convinced I was that I was probably going to die in a plane crash because I didn’t deserve to have fun. I made myself miserable and a nervous wreck. All of the fun I could have had anticipating the vacation I turned into torment and torture.

As you already know, my horror story didn’t come true. I didn’t die in a horrible plane crash. I even managed to have some fun in Spain and on the way home I was too tired to worry about whether or not the plane crashed.

So what’s the point of me telling you my stories? Well, what I’ve found over the years is that many people dealing with divorce torture themselves with their own horror stories. I’ve heard horror stories about never being happy again. I’ve heard horror stories about never being financially well off again. I’ve heard horror stories about children never loving their parents again. I’ve even heard horror stories similar to my own.

In case you’re telling yourself horror stories, I want you to know two things. First, you’re not alone; many people tell themselves horror stories when they’re dealing with divorce. Second, it’s OK to tell someone who won’t judge you, about your stories and have them help you create a better story – a story that inspires you and makes you happy to be you.

Your Healing After Divorce Assignment:

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Identify the horror stories you’re telling yourself. What are the stories you’re telling yourself about your future? Anything that doesn’t inspire happiness and positive anticipation of the future just might be a horror story.

Stop torturing yourself and reach out for help in rewriting your horror story. If you’re ready to change the story you’re telling yourself into one with a happy ending, schedule a Complimentary Consultation with me. We’ll discuss how coaching can help you more quickly and completely work through your divorce and rewrite your story. Simply contact me now either by email karen@drkarenfinn.com or by phone 817-993-0561 and I’ll be happy to schedule some time with you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.

If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.

Life Is What’s Happening Now

Time is one of those concepts that we all get, but is difficult to define. It’s a marker that allows us to separate past, present, and future.

Why bother discussing time? Because, I agree with Alan Lakein who is credited with saying, “Time = Life, therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.”

When we go through divorce, it’s so very, very, very easy to get caught up in either the past or the future instead of being here, now.

We can get caught up in the past by thinking things like, “If only s/he would have told me they weren’t happy, I know we wouldn’t be getting divorced now.” We might even think things like, “I knew before I got married that I shouldn’t marry him/her.” This was one of the thoughts that I had when I was going through my divorce. It was the truth, but it didn’t do any good. The fact was that I had gone ahead and gotten married despite what my gut was telling me. Spending time thinking about a decision I had made YEARS ago wasn’t making the situation any better. It wasn’t helping me to deal with what was going on right then. It was just a way for me to come to terms with the end of my marriage – for a while. What it did in the longer term was it kept me from REALLY understanding what was going on in the present – what was going on with me. A large part of my struggle with divorce came down to the question, “What is it that I need to change or do to reclaim my happiness?” Focusing on the past never helped me completely answer this question. It gave me hints and clues, but never the answer.

On the other hand, we can get caught up in the future by thinking things like, “I don’t know how I’ll be able to make a living”, “I don’t know how I’ll be able to pay child support”, “I’ll never find someone to love me again”, and “I am so afraid of the future”. Focusing on the future with thoughts of fear, lack and struggle makes the process of divorce that much more difficult. Who on earth would want to move forward to a life of fear, lack and struggle?!

I know I sure wouldn’t, and yet, when I was going through my divorce, I had many of these types of thoughts. My thoughts and fears of the future played havoc with me. I would make a decision about how many to move ahead in a positive direction and I would break out in hives. I’d make another decision about how to move forward and I’d have a panic attack. Living in fear of the future was miserable!

Luckily for me, over time, I learned how to live in the present. I learned how to take the past and extract the hints and clues it provided about how I might be happy again. With the hints and clues, I started experimenting with my thoughts and actions to discover what made me happy in the present. I learned how to look with the anticipation toward the future and use the happiness of the present to project what would bring me even more happiness and fulfillment in the future.

I’ll be honest with you, this wasn’t an easy transformation for me, but I did it. Because I did it, I’ve been able to teach my clients how to do it. Because I’ve been able to do it and teach others how to do it, I know YOU can learn to live in the present too. YOU can appreciate and learn from your past. YOU can anticipate your future with happiness all while you are enjoying the present.

The most important thing to remember is that life is what’s happening NOW. Appreciate now. Enjoy now. Live now.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What are you holding on to from your past that is keeping you from completely experiencing the present? You might find this question tricky to answer. It takes a willingness to get really honest with yourself and it might even require you letting go of some blame (either of yourself or someone else). On the other hand, you might be very well aware of what you’re holding on to.

What hints and clues does your past give you about how to experience more happiness now? When were you happy in the past? What were you thinking? What were you doing? How does what you were holding on to point you in the direction of what you might need in the future to be happy?

How are you using fear to keep you from anticipating the future with pleasure? What is it that is keeping you from moving forward with pursuing your future?

What does your ideal future look like? You don’t have to have every detail here or even know exactly how you’ll achieve it. The important thing is to know that your future can be ideal.

How might you use the hints and clues from your past along with an anticipation of the future to make your ‘now’ more enjoyable and fulfilling? If you’ve spent the time to answer the questions above, you’ve got the beginnings of how to make your ‘now’ happier. Remember, there’s no time like the present to start making things even better for yourself!

Appreciate now. Enjoy now. Live now.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.