Have you read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits? The most popular self-help book ever written explains how our daily habits’ cumulative effect determines our overall achievement level.
Clear uses the analogy of an airplane’s trajectory to demonstrate the potency of habits, arguing that even a slight adjustment to the controls can dramatically affect the vehicle’s final destination. Similar to how a car’s navigation system works, our habits can either keep us on track or lead us astray.
What little things can you do regularly to move closer to your goals? Which undesirable practices must you abandon? If you want to get divorced and get where you want to go, here are some atomic habits that can help you get there.
Reduce Stress by Making it a Habit to Talk Things Out
High conflict communication is a bad habit that can derail your divorce, and it’s easy to fall into (especially if you have children from a previous relationship). Instead, make it a habit to be brief and to the point in your written communication; refrain from sharing your thoughts and feelings, offering parenting advice, being critical, or being snarky.
Wait until you’ve calmed down before responding to an inflammatory email from your ex, or have an attorney respond on your behalf. By consistently demonstrating non-confrontational dialogue, you can cut off conflict’s oxygen supply and reduce its likelihood of success.
Always follow the terms of your divorce settlement, including any interim agreements and court orders. For the sake of everyone involved, please make your temporary child support and alimony payments on time and in total, and don’t play games by withholding payments out of spite or anger.
For as long as you receive temporary child support, it is crucial to track how much of it is used for your kids’ needs. Temporary alimony should be used for necessary household expenses, not as a means of taking revenge. Be prompt for all drop-offs and pick-ups associated with your temporary custody arrangement. You shouldn’t constantly bother your ex’s new partner with phone calls and texts.
Maintaining a pattern of honoring short-term agreements will help you and your spouse feel more secure and consistent as you work through the divorce.
Encourage Positive Interactions Between Your Child & Ex
To have a successful co-parenting relationship, you and your ex-spouse must put aside any differences you may have. When you’re a co-parent, it’s your responsibility to make it easier for your kids to spend time with the other parent. Adopt the following practices:
If your children’s safety is in jeopardy, you have every right to intervene in your spouse’s relationship with them.
Maintain Orderliness in All Aspects of the Divorce
Filing papers, property valuations, bank statements, tax returns, other financial statements, custody expert reports, and more will come your way during a divorce. Furthermore, there are time limits for obtaining documents, providing responses, and submitting required paperwork. Turn over a new leaf if your usual method of organization is to “dump it in a shoe box and hope for the best.”
Find a system that works for you and stick to it. This could be anything from downloading a digital app to help you organize documents and using Google calendar to set reminders for deadlines to going the old school route of filing papers in an accordion folder and noting on a paper calendar who needs what and when.
If you’re going through a divorce, a few things are more frustrating than having a decision go against you because you forgot to sign or submit a specific piece of paper. Is assistance required here? Learn more about how to organize yourself during a divorce here.
Create a Practical Schedule
Constantly dwelling on the breakup will wear you down emotionally. Although scheduling appointments with family law attorneys and preparing paperwork can be time-consuming, it is essential to establish reasonable time constraints. Establish a “divorce curfew” for yourself to help you deal with the stress. Do your best to avoid thinking about or engaging in any discussion of divorce after 8 p.m.
Use the time before bed for something constructive, like reading a good book, talking to your partner, or meditating. You may also find that you sleep better when you stick to your bedtime.
Avoid Using Social Media
While venting about your ex and the divorce on Facebook may feel good at the moment, it can be harmful in the long run. Many people will see your post and feel compelled to interact with it by clicking the “like” button or leaving a comment. However, the situation will likely escalate if your ex finds out you’ve been airing their dirty laundry on social media and retaliates.
Instead of using Facebook as a substitute for therapy, it’s better to see a professional, preferably one who has experience helping people through divorce. A counselor is someone who listens, enables you to work through your feelings, and teaches you practical techniques for dealing with difficult situations.
Design Mutually Beneficial Situations
Even the process of settling your divorce and coming to an agreement with your ex can benefit from good habits. Make an effort to frame settlement options as a solution to a problem for both parties rather than make demands or issue ultimatums. Therefore, make it a habit to prepare your requests in terms that benefit both of you.
Instead of saying, “I want the house,” you could frame the situation in terms of mutual benefit. The upkeep of our old home is costly and time-consuming. While living there, I repaired most things myself, saving us a lot of money over the cost of hiring a professional.
If you want the house, you’ll have to put a lot of money into renovations, including the new roof we both know is necessary. That’s why I think it’d be best if I took up residence in the house, and you got your equity stake toward purchasing a newer, less expensive home.
Last advice: whenever you find yourself in a tense situation during your divorce, consider what incremental steps you can regularly take to begin shifting the dynamics of your divorce in the direction of your goals.