I recently had the opportunity to speak with a small group of people going through a divorce who have joined the fantastic Divorce Club, founded by the forward-thinking Isabelle Hung. She believes that rather than dwelling on the past, divorce can be an excellent chance to reconnect and rethink. Taking this concept into careers post-divorce, here are some of the ideas I suggested.
“Life is in the transitions.”
– William James
In his book of the same name, best-selling author Bruce Feiler estimates that each adult faces 3-5 massive re-orientations in their lives, each one lasting up to 5 years. He is adamant that, “The linear life is dead.” Whilst you might feel alone with the change you are facing you can be sure others are facing their own transitions too.
So, with this in mind divorce can be a great opportunity to re-align your life and work, using a life design model. To do this you need to reconnect with who you are now – books, journaling, trips and retreats are all good ways to start this process.
Perhaps easier said than done but adopting a curious mindset might help with some of the challenges ahead; what I mean by this is to allow yourself to define this phase as one of research or exploration, where you talk to people, try out new things and test out your new life story but crucially where you put no pressure on yourself to make any decisions just yet.
Clearly, there are constraints that are a direct result of separating as a couple, even more so with dependants involved, but make sure you can tell the difference between real constraints, like staying in the same city for the sake of the children and perhaps ideas that you are wedded to which are holding you back, like not making a change which would make you personally happier due to assumptions that you hold about yourself or others.
Any life design process needs a community of supporters which is why the Divorce Club is such a great idea. You might include in your support team a coach or mentor or even a good recruiter. More widely, this is a great time to re-engage with LinkedIn and former friends or colleagues. Look out too for support for the self-employed or returner programmes in your local area and the plethora of sites that now offer flexible work, like Timewise.
There will be days and maybe even longer spells where you feel despondent, where it feels like too much change all at once. Try to zoom out to the big picture and imagine where you might be 5 years hence. Choose experiences or experiments to help you move forward and, crucially, also to gather data on your feelings before you commit to more learning or a big move, that is perhaps more about moving out of discomfort than an intentional choice.
Finally, think about work themes that matter to you and don’t be overly focused on roles and titles. Maybe you like “supporting other to access their potential” or “creating beautiful events” or “leading community projects.” Broad themes like these present many more opportunities, and at a variety of entry points, than falling down the rabbit hole of job sites like Indeed where it may seem like nothing fits your new lifestyle.
I really admire everyone from the group that I met and their openness to reconnecting with themselves to create brighter futures and satisfying work lives ahead!