As I was driving home from a networking event a couple of weeks ago, the low-gas light came on in my car. I was so tired from all the activities of the day that I decided to wait until the next morning to fill my car up.
The next morning, I headed over to the gas station at Walmart. As I got closer to the store, I debated with myself about whether I wanted to cut through the parking lot or wait through an extra light to get to the pumps. If I went through the parking lot, I ran the risk of needing to wait for people crossing the road and other cars jockeying for the best parking spot. If I waited for the light, I was stuck making 2 left-hand turns at lights. I really don’t like having to wait for the lights to make the turns, so I chose to cut through the parking lot.
As I neared the entrance to Walmart, there was this older guy pushing his cart down the middle of the road. My first thought was, “Figures! I knew something like this would happen.” Then I changed my mind and realized that in a few more years, that might be me struggling to maintain my dignity and do my own shopping even though it was hard for me to walk and wanting to minimize the walking I had to do even if it meant walking in the middle of the street to get to my car. That thought immediately changed how I was feeling. Instead of being frustrated and impatient, I relaxed and patiently waited for the man to get across the street.
After he moved out of the middle of the road, I continued on my way and filled my car up with gas. I had a few things I wanted to pick up at Walmart, so I drove back through the parking lot in search for my own spot.
As I was slowly making my way up and down the aisles, I thought I spotted the same older guy walking back up to the store. No, it couldn’t be, I reasoned. It must just be another old man that reminded me of the first. I found a great parking spot and walked into the store to buy a couple of things.
As I was walking out of the store I noticed an old guy sitting on one of those motorized carts with his head in his hands. I almost got all the way out the doors before I realized that it was the same guy I kept seeing! I walked up to him and asked, “Didn’t I see you walk out of the store earlier?” He told me yes and that he was having a hard time finding his car. I asked him what kind of car he was driving and he told me a dark blue Kia. So I started out of the store on a mission to find his car for him.
I got just outside and I realized that I would never spot his car and that I should ask him if he was comfortable with me driving him around the parking lot looking for his car. He about jumped out of the motorized cart he was so happy to have me help him like that. We gathered up his bags and started out to my car.
I could tell he was really pushing himself to walk quickly, but I kept a slow pace and just chatted with him about where I had parked and hoping to give him the idea that I had plenty of time and I was parked close enough that he wouldn’t have to walk too far.
And then, just as we reached the parking aisle, he looked over to the right and said, “Is that my car?” Sure enough, he found his car right away – before we had even reached mine.
As I was helping him get his bags into his car, he admitted that he wasn’t supposed to be out walking without his walker and that he was so thankful to be back to his car.
Now it was a little thing for me to notice that an old man was walking down the middle of the street in a parking lot. It was another little thing for me to notice an old man walking back into Walmart. And it was yet another little thing for me to notice a tired old man sitting in a motorized shopping cart. But it was a big thing to that man.
Little things are like that. Individually, they’re itty-bitty things, but added together, they can make a world of difference. I’m not just talking about how little things can add up for helping someone else, but even for us. In fact, this idea of itty-bitty things added together is a major philosophy behind the work I do. For anyone going through divorce, making little changes in perception and then taking action can create a world of difference.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What little things have you chosen not to notice that might make a big difference in your life? Just like my noticing the old man walking back and forth through the Walmart parking lot, what might you need to notice about you or your kids as you’re transitioning from married to single?
Now that you’ve noticed something you might have overlooked before what do you need to do to make a difference? The thing you choose to do might be something small, but sometimes something small is all it takes to make a world of difference.
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.
© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
On Wednesday last week, I had a busy day planned. I had a breakfast meeting in one part of town immediately followed by a one-on-one meeting and a luncheon in a completely different part of town. Then I needed to head back to my office for a call with my coach and to get some other tasks done before heading out for my dinner plans.
My day got even busier than expected because I didn’t do the simple things I know I need to do to be at my best.
I’ve learned that I need to eat a substantial breakfast in the morning. If I don’t, I have a hard time thinking and moving. My body just doesn’t have the energy it needs to keep all systems working – at least that’s how I think of it – unless I feed myself well in the morning.
Well, my breakfast meeting was VERY light on the breakfast part. You might expect that I would take something with me just in case I needed something more for breakfast. And you’d be right! I did take something with me – a Clif bar.
Unfortunately, that Clif bar was the small, simple thing that wound up making a BIG difference in my day.
When my breakfast meeting ended I hopped in my car and gobbled up my Clif bar and headed to my next meeting. I wasn’t feeling my best because I didn’t have anywhere near as heavy a breakfast as I usually do, but I knew I could make it through until lunch without too much stomach rumbling.
The location of my one-on-one meeting and luncheon was in downtown Fort Worth and so I drove to a parking garage and starting making the slow left-hand turns to work my way up the levels of the garage until I could find a parking spot. I passed a few up because they were next to HUGE pick-up trucks and I just didn’t think I’d be able to fit my car into them.
Then, I found a GREAT spot! It was on an end with one of those yellow cement posts on one side and a small car on the other.
So I turned on my signal and started to pull in. CRUNCH! My stomach sank. I had hit the yellow cement post.
OK, I thought, if I pull out the same way I pulled in then it wouldn’t be too bad. I put my car in reverse and slowly pressed on the gas pedal. SCREECH!
Well, that didn’t work too well, so I thought maybe if I turn my wheels slightly and pull forward again, I’ll get off of the post. GRRRRRRRRRRRR THUMP! Yeah, that didn’t work too well either.
Luckily, with that GRRRRRRRRRRRR THUMP! I was FINALLY able to reposition my car so I could pull out of the space without any more damage.
I then started making my slow left turns again until I found a GREAT BIG spot to park in.
After getting safely situated in this new spot I turned off the ignition and sat for a moment trying to understand exactly what had happened. It took a moment and then it hit me. I hadn’t taken care of myself by doing the simple things I needed to do. I skipped my regular breakfast and wasn’t at my best. Because I wasn’t at my best, I was having difficulty thinking and moving (driving in this case) and I smashed up my car. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t one of my proudest moments, but it was another reminder that sometimes small, simple things can make a BIG difference.
One of the things I hear about regularly from my clients is that it can be hard to do the things they know they need to do to take care of themselves when they’re going through divorce. The divorce is just such a monumental change in their lives that it can seemingly be easier to skimp on or simply skip the things they need to do to be at their best. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I challenge them to rethink that just a bit and make the time they need to take care of themselves.
However, they don’t tell me all the subtle and simple ways they stop taking care of themselves because sometimes they’re not aware of it themselves. So, I often probe a bit deeper to help them figure out other ways they might make small, simple changes to take better care of themselves. In this week’s Your Functional Divorce Assignment I’m going to help you do the same.
Your Little Things Make A Big Difference Assignment:
Take a moment and think about which of the following you need to be at your best: adequate sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, fun, meaningful work, relaxation, great relationships with your kids, friends and family. For most people they need all of them. We all need to take care of our bodies by getting enough sleep, enough exercise and good food to eat. We all need to let our hair down to have some fun and relax. We all need to know that what we do matters. We all need to have meaningful relationships with others. This stuff is just part of being human.
Ideally, if I were to ask you to rate each of these on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being perfect and 1 being needs a bunch of work) you’d rate each of these as a 10. But, life isn’t like that – especially when you’re working through divorce. Go ahead and rate your sleep, your exercise, your nutrition, your fun, your work, your ability to relax and your relationships on a scale of 1-10.
For the one you rated the highest, celebrate it! It can be especially difficult to take care of yourself when you’re dealing with divorce and the fact that you’re doing great in at least one of these categories is wonderful!
For the one that rated the lowest, what one small, simple thing might you do to make a BIG difference? I know it can be difficult to come up with something sometimes, but it might be something as simple as it was for me – eat a big enough breakfast to be at my best. If after a few minutes you’re still having a difficult time and you really are committed to making the small, simple changes you know you need to make to more easily navigate through your divorce, reach out to me. Schedule a Complimentary Consultation. Together I’m confident we can identify what small, simple things you might do differently to make a BIG difference in your transition from married to single.
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 or schedule a private consultation with me.