Setting Goals: The Road to Success After Divorce

By Tara Eisenhard

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”- Yogi Berra

Divorce can bring a period of darkness and confusion. It’s not uncommon for people to feel lost in the process of decisions, division and disconnection. And while there are countless professionals available to assist you with everything from alimony to visitation, one of the most helpful things is something you can do yourself.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about setting goals.

It might sound goofy or nerdy. You might think another task is too much to take on. Or perhaps you’re operating under one overarching goal to simply get through each day. But goals can prove to be well worth the effort, with long-term payouts.

Benefits of Setting Goals:

  1. Goals keep you grounded. The process of setting goals takes you out of your emotions and gives the logical side of your brain something to do. And once your goals are set, they provide a continuous reason to be rational. From that point forward, you can consider your actions with respect to your goals. For instance, would a spontaneous shopping spree help you meet your monthly savings goal?  Probably not. Having goals helps you make more productive decisions.
  1. Goals set a foundation with your ex. For those who share children, their relationship doesn’t magically end with the delivery of a divorce decree. That’s why it’s important to cultivate a working relationship with your child’s other parent. And what better way to do that than to set a common goal? Co-parents are more cooperative when they know they’re not competing against each other, but rather working toward an intended outcome.
  1. Goals provide stability for children. Kids in transition crave security. They want to know what to expect, and they need to feel as if they have some control over their lives. Setting goals within your family can help. Your goal could be as simple as working to complete a puzzle. Or you might have more advanced aspirations such as planning to decorate a bedroom or hunting for a house that has two bathrooms and a pool. Regardless of the size, goals help children envision a specific future, and they know how they can play a part in making their vision a reality. As an added bonus, you’ll likely find the process inspires deeper communication and strengthens your bond.
  1. Goals brighten the view of the future (and therefore, the present). In the darkness of divorce, the future might be unfathomable. I understand. It’s easy to get bogged down in the drama and focus solely on the multitude of tasks that need attention in the moment. But what if you had a beautiful vision of what you’d like your life to look like at this time next year? What if you saw past the momentary madness, realizing that today gets you one step closer to your beach vacation or your dream job? Perhaps you’d wake up in the morning feeling hopeful and inspired to take action. Perhaps the momentary madness would be just a little less maddening.

Are you feeling motivated? Ready to get started? Here’s a short overview of some of the types of goals to consider.

  • Relationship Goals/Intentions. Divorce means you’ll be creating a new type of relationship with your ex and the members of his/her family. You have a similar opportunity to refresh or recreate relationships with your children. What do you want these new and improved relationships to look like? How do you want to feel in them? And don’t forget to evaluate your friendships too. It might be time to reconnect with some old friends or search for new ones who will encourage and support you in this new chapter of your journey.
  • Financial Goals. Money touches all aspects of life. Perhaps you and your ex would like to set a spending limit on your divorce, ensuring you retain enough assets to divide. When considering your monthly budget, you might decide to begin saving additional money for kids’ activities, a vacation or a home improvement fund. Looking ahead, you’ll likely want to make some adjustments in your retirement plan.
  • Home Goals. If you’re still living in your marital home, you probably want to make it yours. And if you’ve relocated, you’ll want the new space to feel like home. Make a plan and set goals focused on painting, planting, cleaning or whatever unique improvements you desire. You can involve your children in this aspect so they too can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in their home.
  • Fun/Future Goals. Don’t forget to plan and prioritize the enjoyment of your new life! This is where you can focus on self care and get extra creative. What would you love to do? Where would you love to go? You might decide to grow and donate your hair, or take your children to the zoo. Or you might plan for a future trip of a lifetime to see Paris and Rome.

You can envision your new life any way you want. But what you want won’t happen unless you commit to making it a reality. What goal will you set first?

In two weeks part 2 will address how to overcome obstacles in setting goals and break goals into manageable tasks.

Tara Eisenhard is an author, mediator and coach with a positive and holistic outlook on divorce. She is the author of the novel “The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes,” and the blog, Relative Evolutions. For more information, visit