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One Not-So-Secret Tip to Make the Changes You Want in Life after Divorce

Are there areas of life you’d like to change or improve now that the dust has settled from your divorce? If you’re like most divorced moms, there are at least a couple. These include the common culprits like finances, weight, and time management as well as more individualized areas for improvement like sticking to a meditation practice or tackling home repairs.

We’ve all heard that New Year’s resolutions don’t normally work, and most of us have firsthand experience with failing to stick to a diet or a budget. But here’s one not-so-secret way to increase your chances of making the changes you want.

Make yourself accountable to someone besides yourself.

An accountability partner can be anyone from a friend to a coach to a family member to a coworker or an acquaintance who shares a common goal or desire. And the best part is that unless you’re working with a professional, it’s free and easy.

I’ve been using this approach in a couple of areas for the past four months, and I’ve been really pleased with my progress in areas where I’ve felt stuck. Here are 3 examples to give you some ideas of how you might use accountability to make changes in your own life after divorce.

  1. Losing Weight:  I began using an app on my phone over 2 years ago to track my food and exercise patterns. By being accountable to an objective tool, I made gradual changes that enabled me to lose over 30 pounds and increase my fitness level. I’ve maintained my weight and gained strength and stamina by continuing to track my food and exercise daily.
    Accountability to a tool is appropriate for areas where objective observation and measurement are sufficient, such as diet, exercise, and budget and other financial areas.
  2. Achieving a Business Goal. I’ve been working on a book—Create a Life You Love after Divorce—for several years. Finding time to write and edit while running my consulting business and raising my children has been challenging, and I’ve been frustrated with my lack of progress. Last fall I began a weekly accountability check-in with my business coach. I didn’t meet my target completion date, but I’ve made more progress in the past few months than at any time since I first began writing. The act of being accountable gave me an incentive to write so I’d have something new to report each week. My coach didn’t have to do anything except receive my email update.
    One-way accountability is appropriate for working on areas where you don’t have someone else interested in the same thing. All you need is someone who is willing to receive and read your updates or take your weekly phone calls.
  3. Parenting Challenges: Because of my successes in other areas, a friend and I decided to try being accountability partners to deal with parenting issues we each faced. I’ve been tolerating some behaviors in one of my teenagers that have made me uncomfortable, but I’ve lacked the ability or courage to take action up until recently. She had a different parenting issue she needed to address. We each identified what we wanted to accomplish and our first step(s) toward that change. As we take action, we email each other with updates. We can then offer support, suggestions and feedback when it seems appropriate. I’ve already taken my first steps, uncomfortable though they were, because of my commitment to someone else to act. An added benefit is that I don’t feel so alone in parenting after divorce.
    Two-way accountability works well when both partners have something they want to work on (can be the same area but doesn’t have to be). Common areas include diet, fitness/exercise, parenting, finances, job search, or home improvements.

I’ve been pleased with the results in all 3 areas, and I intend to look for more ways to be accountable, one issue or challenge at a time in life after divorce. I’d love to hear your success stories, too.

Reprinted from The Divorced Breadwinner Mom’s News & Notes Subscribe

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Andrea Conway February 25, 2014, 9:43 am

    Joy, I really like how you use accountability not only with professionals, such as coaches, but also with friends and even software programs – a lot of great ideas here – thank you!

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