Divorce does not have to derail your career
Don’t dwell on the past, think about the future
Don’t fall prey to the idea that divorce has to derail your career. Don’t assume the role of the victim. Assert your newfound independence to go forth and take risks, and make changes in your professional life that will allow you to grow and flourish.
Divorce wreaks havoc on all parties involved. But does it have to derail you professionally?
We (one divorced, the other a child of divorce) say, undoubtedly: No. We reached out to divorced clients and colleagues and found that divorce can actually boost your career if you allow yourself to gain three perspectives from the experience:
1. Space and time to yourself.
When you are suddenly a “single” versus a “partner” or part of a family unit, there is at once space where there wasn’t before.
Whether it’s physical space – sleeping alone in your bed, living alone, or having every other Tuesday night to yourself without the kids, you are bound to find yourself with space in a way you hadn’t had previously (or at least, not since marriage).
The space and time to yourself can be used as a force for good. Whether you take an hour to yourself to exercise every other week, or you use that alone time in bed to read or write (or watch bad TV), you can use that space and time to think , not about the past and what went wrong, but about the future, and the opportunities that lie ahead.
2. A different threshold for risk
If you’ve gone through a divorce, it’s hard to imagine being at work and thinking about taking a risk and being terrified of the consequences. How bad could it possibly be? Asking to take on a new project? What’s the worst that could happen? The boss says no. Requesting a transfer to London? If not now, when? The twisted fortune of divorce is knowing that you’ve been to the abyss, have climbed out of it and are on your way back up – to the top.
3. The ability to break old patterns Finally, the inevitable self-examination that comes with divorce gives you an opportunity to see patterns and behaviours that might not have been visible to the naked eye previously.
When you put your relationship under a microscope, certain things become clear: Were you the type to blame colleagues (substitute: your ex) for everything? Did your moodiness affect a peaceful work (substitute: home) life?
Were your emotions easily triggered by otherwise benign comments? Were you a poor listener or perhaps passive-aggressive? More than likely some of those same unhealthy patterns showed up both at home and at work.
The good news is, once you identify those patterns at home, it is monumentally easier to apply learning and growth to similar situations at work. With time to reflect and ambition to progress, you can identify negative patterns at work and shake things up.
Challenge yourself to focus on fixing a problem rather than placing blame. Find a new way of listening to a colleague you never took seriously. Take deep breaths when your emotions are triggered. You’ll find yourself better able to assess situations, make good decisions and handle tough situations more ably.
Don’t fall prey to the idea that divorce has to derail your career. Don’t assume the role of the victim. Assert your newfound independence to go forth and take risks, and make changes in your professional life that will allow you to grow and flourish. Alicia Bassuk is a leadership designer and coach, motivational speaker and founder of leadership development firm Ubica. Jodi Glickman is a keynote speaker and founder of communication training and leadership development firm Great on the Job.
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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