The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists a Massachusetts divorce as the number two stress in life, right below the death of a spouse, but above jail and serious personal illness or injury. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise for those of us who’ve had to go through it. 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 divorce can actually boost your career if you allow yourself to gain three perspectives from the experience: space and time to yourself, a different threshold for risk, and the ability to break old patterns.
Space and time to yourself.
“When I got divorced, I looked at my whole life and asked myself: what kind of legacy did I want to leave? At that time, I called my friends together as my kitchen cabinet and planned a new career route for myself.”
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.
Do you want to change careers? Are you ready to step up and ask for a promotion? Or, do your kids need you now more than ever and should you scale back? The clarity that space provides you will allow you to think strategically about career options in a way you may not have been able to do before.
A different threshold for risk.
“When my ex moved out I took over the home office and turned it into a wood shop. I started a side business selling furniture. I hope to open my own furniture shop in the near future.”
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 happens? The boss says no. Requesting a transfer to London — if not now, when? Looking for a role within a different part of the organization? 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.
As many great minds agree — disruption is a proven path to success in the business world. It can be a greater instigator to finding career success by emboldening you to challenge authority, take risks, and be open to improvising.
The ability to break old patterns.
“Developing the parenting agreement for my divorce forced me to find middle ground on some topics that I didn’t think I had middle ground on. I realized that I had some similar black-and-white issues at work that I soon discovered new middle ground on.”
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, make changes in your professional life that will allow you to grow and flourish. Look at your professional life in context and recognize that when life throws you lemons, you can still make lemonade.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.