By Deirdre Hally Shaffer, MSW, LCSW
Traveling. Trips. Journeys. Vacations. Adventures. These are words that conjure images of excitement, relaxation, and respite. We may think about our dream vacation, detailing in our minds where we want to go, what we want to do when we arrive, and which people we want to bring along as traveling companions. At some point we consider our means of transportation, ensuring that it is safe, affordable, and straightforward so as to avoid delays, complications, and being stranded without a place to lay our heads.
We ponder our itinerary, checking resources to see when certain venues are open and where we will be eating….I like to call that “investigative research.” We pack appropriate attire as well as items that we’ll need for personal care. We make sure our passports are updated and that we have sufficient funds to pay for the trip. In short, we envision the kind of vacation that appeals to us and then we set a plan in motion to embark on our adventure.
How about using the same formula to create the kind of single life that will be most authentic to who we are and where we want to go? We can start by closing our eyes, taking time to be still and picturing where we’d like to be in six months, in a year, in two years.
We each know, deep down, what is best for us and what we can and can’t live with. Take some time to meditate on your new life journey and to visualize how the scenery will look. As your vision begins to form, keep a list of goals along the way that will help you to plan your trip. Keep this goal list handy so you can add to it and check off the ones you’ve achieved.
Envision what you want your environment to look like. Perhaps you see yourself in a smaller, more manageable living situation. Or maybe you feel that making some small changes (painting, moving furniture around, etc.) to your current home would be better suited to your situation. There may be goals on your list for upkeep and/or repairs in order to get your house ready to be sold. Your list may include researching real estate, packing unused items, or having a garage sale to clear out clutter.
Maybe you can see yourself in a certain work environment. What are the hours? The pay? The nature of the work? If you are the primary caretaker of your children, what will your days look like in terms of schedule and respite?
What do you want to be doing during non-working hours? Make a bucket list of interests. Are you interested in physical health and exercise? Museums? Sports events? Dancing? Music? Socializing? Perhaps a goal can be to befriend a fellow divorced friend within the next few months. Joining a Divorce Support Group can be a wonderful way to meet people who have true empathy for your journey.
Do you have clear financial expectations of this trip? You can begin by gathering information about expenses and assets. Consider meeting with a personal financial planner and/or accountant to create a plan and put it into effect. If finances are unclear, you can take a step forward by beginning to budget and save for your new lifestyle. This is so important.
Do you need to update or restructure cell phone plans, insurances, driver’s license address changes, or emergency contact numbers? Add these items to your list.
While you are adding and accomplishing goals, remember to look at the landscape around you. Enjoy the sites, sounds, and people that you encounter on your trip. Note what you are learning on your trip and remember that, one day, you may actually look back on this time of your life with gratitude for the opportunities it created and growth that occurred.
Happy travels. Stay in your lane, wear your seatbelt, and don’t forget the value of the miles traveled and how far you’ve come.